The Donmar Warehouse today announce that Tim Sheader is appointed as the new Artistic Director and joint Chief Executive alongside Executive Director Henny Finch. Sheader takes up the role in March 2024 taking over from Michael Longhurst. He joins the company from Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, where he has been Artistic Director since 2007. Under his tenure, the company has won seven Olivier Awards and four Evening Standard Awards, with productions transferring to the West End and North America.
Tim Sheader said today, “What an absolute honour to follow in the footsteps of theatre giants and be asked to lead this remarkable theatre. The invitation live performance offers to share a moment in time together has never been more important, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to invite as many different audiences as possible to experience the life enhancing feeling of being in that unparalleled space, where our imaginations can soar and magic happen.
“As the Donmar continues on its path as a financially independent theatre I am very much looking forward to meeting and working with its many loyal members and supporters to create inclusive, accessible and must-see work on and beyond the stage.
“I would like to thank all my colleagues, past and present, permanent and freelance, at the mighty Open Air Theatre for travelling with me on the most incredible journey. I am delighted to join Henny Finch, the Board and all of the Donmar team, in serving audiences, old and new alike, in this unique and world class theatre.”
Adam Kenwright, Chair of the Board, added “Tim joins the company at an extraordinary time of opportunity for the Donmar, and we couldn’t be more delighted to welcome him. A popular and dynamic theatre maker and collaborator, he brings with him a wealth of experience of leading a company – one that sits outside the National Portfolio, yet one with proven artistic excellence and commercial savvy, that remains entirely committed to audience growth and diversity. It’s these very qualities, alongside those of our incredible Executive Director and joint CEO Henny Finch, that will forge an ideal partnership, attracting world class talent to our Covent Garden home and beyond, as he leads the artistic vision with the team over the coming years.
“I also want to say a huge thank you to the panel, Board and recruitment specialists for their dedication and support throughout this process – we had a wealth of talented candidates, and through a thorough process have found in Tim, the perfect alchemy to lead our organisation.”
Donmar Warehouse’s Executive Director and joint CEO Henny Finch commented, “During his time as Artistic Director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre Tim has led with great creative talent, genuine care for artists, and vitally a commitment to making excellent work that appeals to a wide range of audiences. This energy, commitment and experience make him the ideal candidate to succeed Michael, and, jointly with me, lead the Donmar’s talented team. I am very much looking forward to working with him as we navigate the next period of our history.”
Exiting Artistic Director and joint CEO Michael Longhurst said, “I wish Tim every success in the role, I know he’s joining an incredible team, and I’ll be cheering from the stalls when his programme begins.”
Tim Sheader is Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. He took up his role there in 2007, where in the past 10 years alone, the company has won multiple awards, including seven Olivier Awards and The Stage’s London Theatre of the Year.
He has directed over 20 productions for the company, including the Olivier and Evening Standard Award-winning musicals Into the Woods(also Central Park’s Delacorte Theater), Hello Dolly, Crazy For You (also West End), and Jesus Christ Superstar which, following two sold out seasons at Regent’s Park and a transfer to the Barbican, has been touring the US for three years and embarks on a UK tour this September. His critically acclaimed production of To Kill a Mockingbird also toured the UK ending with a sell-out run at the Barbican. Committed to taking the company’s work to as wide an audience as possible, he has overseen further UK tours of productions including Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Flies and Running Wild. Partnerships and co-productions have included work with the Barbican Centre, Chichester Festival Theatre, English National Opera, Leeds Playhouse, Roald Dahl Story Company and the Unicorn Theatre.
The theatre has become a hotbed of directing talent, producing work made by Maria Aberg, Natalie Abrahami, Matthew Dunster, Nadia Fall, Rob Hastie, Ola Ince, Rachel Kavanagh, Jamie Lloyd, Lucy Moss and Max Webster amongst others. After expanding the repertoire beyond the historical presentation of Shakespeare, in recent years new writing has become central to the theatre’s mission, with commissioned writers including Samuel Adamson, Torben Betts, Inua Ellams, Carl Grose, Zinnie Harris, Chinonyerem Odimba and Holly Robinson.
Despite receiving no public subsidy, Sheader has ensured work at Regent’s Park has been accessible to all audiences, maintaining the theatre’s lowest ticket price of £25 for almost a decade, whilst significantly expanding the membership of the BREEZE scheme, which offers tickets to those aged 18-25 for £10. In addition to a comprehensive programme of access performances, the theatre has partnered with local charities, notably Camden Disability Action, Age UK Camden and Pimlico Musical Foundation, which gave children from one of London’s most complex communities the opportunity of appearing alongside professional singers in 2019’s co-production with English National Opera of Hansel and Gretel.
In August 2020, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre led the industry back to live performance with the first full-scale production to be produced in the UK after the re-opening of our theatres.
Working alongside two consecutive Executive Directors, William Village and James Pidgeon, under his tenure the theatre has undergone major capital refurbishment. The production and administration teams moved from offsite into new purpose build offices, backstage facilities were made fit for purpose for modern working, a suite of onsite rehearsal studios were built, and this season 48 seats have been added to the auditorium.
His other stage work includes The Monstrous Child(Royal Opera House), My Fair Lady (Aarhus Theatre), Barnum (Chichester Festival Theatre),The Magistrate (National Theatre), The Three Musketeers (Bristol Old Vic), Hobson’s Choice, Love in a Maze, The Clandestine Marriage (The Watermill Theatre), Piaf, Sweet Charity (Sheffield Theatres), Unless, The Star Throwers (Stephen Joseph Theatre), Achilles (Edinburgh Festival Fringe – Fringe First Award), La Maison Suspendue (RSC), and Streetcar to Tennessee(Young Vic).
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