The first female partnership to run a London theatre have announced their departure from the Donmar Warehouse, one of the UK’s most important theatres.

Josie Rourke is to step down as artistic director after eight years in 2019, while Kate Pakenham, the theatre’s executive producer, will leave in the summer.

Rourke, previously artistic director of the Bush theatre in London before succeeding Michael Grandage at the Donmar, said her job had been one of the “great privileges of London theatre”.

She said: “After 12 years as an artistic director … I’ve been lucky to open two new theatre buildings and work with some of the most significant voices of my generation. I was proud to be the first woman director to run a major London theatre, but I’m even prouder that the landscape has now changed beyond recognition, and for ever.”

The Donmar, whose first artistic director was Sam Mendes, has always punched above its small size.

Under Rourke’s leadership, the Donmar staged notable productions including Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston in 2013, the Olivier-winning musical City of Angels in 2014, and The Weir and My Night with Reg, which transferred to the West End.

One of its most important projects was Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Shakespeare Trilogy (2012-16), which starred Harriet Walter and was staged in New York and at a temporary theatre next to King’s Cross station as well as the Donmar.

Rourke is working on the post-production of her first feature film, Mary Queen of Scots, which stars Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie and is due for release in November. Her final show for the Donmar will be in the first half of 2019.

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Pakenham said her six years at the Donmar had been “hugely inspiring and a great honour”. “The impact of Phyllida’s all-female Shakespeare Trilogy in promoting the value of women’s and diverse voices on our stages has been particularly energising,” she said.

The chairman of the Donmar Warehouse Projects, John Browne, said: “On behalf of the board, I thank Josie and Kate for their hugely successful period of leadership.

“They have continued to evolve the variety, vibrancy and quality of our creative programme. They have strengthened our organisation and inspired the loyalty of our great supporters. They leave the Donmar in a strong position for the future. Recruitment of a new artistic director is under way.”


Credit: The Guardian

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