Photo by Ellie Kurttz (c) RSC

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) announced that Gregory Doran will step down as Artistic Director from today, after 35 years with the Company including the last ten years as Artistic Director. Gregory will begin rehearsals next week for Richard III with Arthur Hughes in the title role and will remain with the Company as Artistic Director Emeritus until the end of 2023. 

As Artistic Director Emeritus, Gregory will lead specific projects and direct a production in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre as part of the Shakespeare’s First Folio celebrations in 2023, this will be his 50th production for the RSC.  Gregory will also deliver ongoing training for artists on Shakespeare’s verse throughout the year.

The search for the new Artistic Director will be conducted by the Non-Executive Board, supported by Donna Munday and executive search consultants Green Park. Details for applicants and the process will be available via the RSC website from Friday 29 April. Erica Whyman, who has been Acting Artistic Director since September 2021, will continue in this role during the search.

Gregory was announced as Artistic Director in 2012 and his first production as Artistic Director opened in September 2013 when he reunited with David Tennant, directing him in the title role of Richard II. The acclaimed production transferred to the Barbican Theatre, London and was the first RSC production to be seen live in cinemas around the world.

Speaking about his decision Gregory said:

‘It has been a real privilege to be a part of the amazing team leading this great Company for this last decade of challenge and achievement. And to work through the entire canon of plays in Shakespeares First Folio in time for its 400th anniversary next year. We have made many strides in making our theatre more inclusive, accessible, diverse and accountable, but there is always more to do, and I wish whoever succeeds me joy in continuing that work. I am honoured to have been granted the title of Artistic Director Emeritus until the end of 2023’.

Gregory has led the Company through the journey of Shakespeare’s canon during his decade as Artistic Director with a programme that celebrates the diversity of talent in the UK.  As well as being performed live on stage, the productions have been screened in cinemas worldwide and shared free with schools across the UK with extensive accompanying educational resources. He championed the Company’s nationwide activity working in collaboration 12 Partner Theatres and their communities including a strong network of Associate Schools.

In his 2018 production of Troilus and Cressida he collaborated with virtuoso percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. The production boasted the RSC’s first equally gender-balanced cast in a Shakespeare play on the main stage, and the first disabled actor to play a leading Shakespeare role for the Company with deaf actor Charlotte Arrowsmith as Cassandra. 

Gregory has directed Measure For Measure (2019), the revival of his celebrated puppet Masque Venus and Adonis (2017) and King Lear with Antony Sher in the title role (2016). He led the Company’s digital innovation with a ground-breaking production of The Tempest (2016/7) with Simon Russell Beale as Prospero, created with Intel and in association with Imaginarium Studios.  In 2015, his productions of Henry V (2015), Henry IV Parts I & II embarked on an international tour to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong prior to a month-long residency at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music, joined by Richard II.

In 2016 Gregory directed Shakespeare Live! broadcast on the BBC and which marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  Many RSC alumni joined the line-up including Judi Dench, Paapa Essiedu, Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren and David Tennant, alongside the Company’s President HRH The Prince of Wales. The performance was nominated for a 2017 BAFTA for Best Live Event.

Other productions include the world stage premiere of David Walliams’ The Boy in the Dress in 2019, Death of A Salesman with Antony Sher and Harriet Walter and The Witch of Edmonton with Eileen Atkins in the title role.

In June 2012 Gregory received the Sam Wanamaker Award from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, an annual award that recognises and celebrates work which has increased the understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare. He delivered the 2016 Richard Dimbleby Lecture, which was broadcast on 16 March 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death

Gregory, alongside Erica Whyman, has nurtured new, diverse voices and talent across all RSC stages and activity, as well as reopening The Other Place as a hub for new writing.  The iconic RSC Costume Workshop was redeveloped and restored re-opening in 2021, an example of the craftmanship that exists and is at the core of the RSC.

Gregory led the Company through the Covid-19 pandemic alongside Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon.  Work during the time the theatres were closed included co-directing the streamed open rehearsal project of Henry VI Part One alongside Owen Horsley, plus in-conversation streamed events for Talking Shakespeare with RSC alumni including Adjoa Andoh, Paterson Joseph, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walter.  The Winter’s Tale was reimagined for the screen, filmed in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and broadcast on BBC Four, then on iPlayer, and The Comedy of Errors performed outdoors in the specially created Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre.

Shriti Vadera, RSC Chair added:

‘Greg’s unparalleled knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays has created many memorable productions on our stages over a 35-year span that marks an extraordinary contribution to the RSC, not least as Artistic Director in the last 10 years. He has generously supported many artists at all stages of their careers and has championed young people’s learning and literacy through our unique school and Learning programmes. 

‘Along with Catherine Mallyon and Erica Whyman, he recently steered the Company through the most difficult of times ensuring that we continued to support our audiences and the communities we work with. We are now emerging from the pandemic with resilience. I am delighted that Greg will continue to work with the RSC as Artistic Director Emeritus throughout 2023, the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio.  On behalf of the Board and the many supporters and stakeholders of the RSC, I would like to express our deep gratitude to Greg’.

Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director further added:
‘Much will be said about Greg’s extraordinary artistic contribution to the RSC, so I want to focus on the personal.  Greg is the most wonderful colleague.  The humanity we see shining through Greg’s work on stage is also what we experience every day.  From a kind word to an incisive intervention, Greg always takes the time to understand us all as individuals.  It has been a joy and an inspiration to work alongside Greg and I thank him with all my heart for being such a generous and supportive professional partner’.