Theater|Royal Shakespeare Company Names Two Directors for Top Job
LONDON — Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey were named early Wednesday morning here as joint artistic directors of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the major theater ensemble based in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.
The pair is replacing Gregory Doran, who stepped down from the company in April after leading it for almost a decade. He will remain with the company as artistic director emeritus until the end of 2023.
Shriti Vadera, the chairwoman of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s board, said in a news release that a selection panel — including the theater director Nicholas Hytner and Mark Thompson, deputy chairman of the company’s board and a former chief executive of The New York Times — chose Evans and Harvey from “an exceptionally strong field of candidates.” Vadera added that Evans and Harvey “bring a brilliant track record of artistic achievement with a strong commitment to education, communities and championing diverse talent and voices.”
The decision to split the top job between two individuals is unusual for a British theater so steeped in tradition. It has happened only once before at the company, when Trevor Nunn and Terry Hands shared the role from 1978 to 1986. It is a more common practice in Germany where it is seen as allowing each office holder to focus on contrasting areas of expertise.
Evans, 49, the artistic director of the Chichester Festival Theater in southern England, is the better known of the two, having had a high-profile career here as both an actor and director.
In a 2011 interview with The Guardian, Evans said visits to the Royal Shakespeare Company as a teenager had sparked his interest in theater. He began his acting career there, too, and later went on to appear in numerous classical and experimental plays in London, including the debut of Sarah Kane’s “4:48 Psychosis” at the Royal Court. He also became known as a star of Stephen Sondheim musicals. In 2008, he was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in the lead role of Sam Buntrock’s Broadway revival of Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Sunday in the Park With George.”
At Chichester, he has been praised for directing new plays, including “Quiz” by the playwright James Graham as well as hit musicals such as a revamped “South Pacific.”
Harvey, 44, is the artistic director of Theatr Clwyd, in Mold, a town in Wales. She also has a long history with Shakespeare — in 2004, she directed an all-female “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Globe in London — but her recent work has been varied, including last year’s online production of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” updated for the Instagram generation.
On Friday, Harvey is premiering “The Famous Five” at Theater Clwyd, a new musical based on a series of children’s books by the English author Enid Blyton that features a puppet dog. It is scheduled to transfer to Evans’s Chichester Festival Theater, in October. The pair have worked together before, on a 2015 production of “Pride and Prejudice” and a 2017 production of “Uncle Vanya.”
A spokeswoman for the Royal Shakespeare Company said no one was available for an interview about how the pairing will work. In a news release, Harvey said that she and Evans both believed the company could be “a home for radical, relevant theater made by artists from across the U.K. and the wider world.”
Evans and Harvey will take up the post in June 2023. Erica Whyman will continue as the company’s acting artistic director until then, and is scheduled to announce details of the company’s 2023 season next week.