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STC welcomes Jonathan Church as new Artistic Director

STC welcomes Jonathan Church as new Artistic Director
August 25, 2015

The Sydney Theatre Company (STC) has announced that British artist Jonathan Church will succeed Andrew Upton as Artistic Director.

Church will succeed outgoing STC Artistic Directors Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett in the role immediately, commencing work on programming STC's 2017 season.

Since 2006, Church has held the position as Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre and is credited with transforming the much-loved UK institution.

Once described as "one of the nicest people in the business", during his time at Chichester Church doubled the venue’s audience base, produced a diverse program of over 100 shows, and also played a critical role in raising the funds for a $46 million redevelopment of Chichester Festival Theatre in time for the venue’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2014.

Church's tenure in Chichester has also seen almost 50 shows developed at the Theatre transfer to both the West End and Broadway. Highlights have included Enron directed by Rupert Goold (West End and Broadway), The Judas Kiss with Rupert Everett directed by Neil Armfield (West End), Macbeth with Patrick Stewart (West End, BAM, Broadway, BBC Film), Sweeney Todd with Michael Ball (West End), King Lear with Frank Langella (BAM), Top Girls by Caryl Churchill (West End) and the current hit Gypsy with Imelda Staunton (West End).

His own productions which have toured internationally include the soon to be seen in Australiam Singin’ in the Rain, and The Last Confession with David Suchet, which recently toured throughout the country.

Prior to taking on his role at Chichester, Church was Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 2001 to 2005 and Salisbury Playhouse from 1995 to 1999.

He was also Associate Director of Hampstead Theatre from 1999 to2001 and Associate Director of Derby Playhouse from 1994 to 1995. He trained as Assistant Director at Nottingham Playhouse, following work backstage as an Assistant Electrician and Stage Manager.

Church has his own production company in the UK, Jonathan Church Productions Ltd, which has a development agreement with Delfont Mackintosh Theatres.

Church said he is looking forward to leading the company through its next phase of development, stating "I have watched from afar STC's growth over the past 30 years and the company has become a beacon of artistic adventure and international excellence.

"Recently I have also been fortunate enough to begin to work first hand with some of Australia's best theatre practitioners and I have a strong sense of the extraordinary talent that exists and the deep sense of commitment to the theatre and the arts in general that a wide range of companies have fostered in Australia."

After a comprehensive international search and a very accomplished shortlist, David Gonski, Chairman of Sydney Theatre Company said the board are confident that Church's breadth of experience across the course of his career is a "brilliant fit for STC".

Gonski stated "Jonathan is both an acclaimed theatre director in his own right, and also an artistic director with an extremely impressive track record in establishing positive relationships with a broad range of top theatre artists.

"I know that he will build on the excellent work of Andrew Upton who has been Artistic Director for the last eight years, the first five alongside Cate Blanchett."

Upton, who is relocating to New York with Blanchett, welcomed the appointment, stating "it is important to have a theatre director once more at the helm" and describing Church as a "terrific choice."

Upton added "I look forward to fresh perspectives on the international theatre canon and a continuation of STC's championing of local theatre makers and stories, including on the international stage."

STC founding Artistic Director Richard Wherrett stated that the "Sydney Theatre Company exists to provide first class theatrical entertainment for the people of Sydney … theatre that is grand, vulgar, intelligent, challenging and fun."

Subsequent artistic directors Wayne Harrison, Robyn Nevin, Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton have remained true to this idiosyncratic vision, in the process helping to define main stream theatre culture in Australia through broad programming of new and existing works, and the promotion of varied theatrical voices.

Commencing work on programming STC's 2017 season immediately, Church will work in both Sydney and the UK until September 2016 as he delivers his final festival season in Chichester.

Images: Jonathan Church (top) and the The Wharf Theatre (below).





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