ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY ANNOUNCES NEW APPOINTMENTS
- Tomas Wright appointed new Technical Director.
- Justine Themen and Sandeep Mahal announced as RSC’s first Leadership Associates.
- RSC Rothschild Foundation Digital Fellows Kirsty Housley, Adam Clarke and Ben Glover to explore how new and emerging technologies could shape live performance in the future.
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The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has today announced the appointment of Tomas Wright as its new Technical Director. Tomas joins the Company from his current post as Technical Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, having joined the organisation as Head of Production in 2002.
As Technical Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Tomas leads the production and technical departments to deliver a multi-faceted programme of main-stage solo and co-productions, national and international touring, small-scale work, large scale community productions and learning and participation activity.
When Tomas joined The REP, under the leadership of Jonathan Church and Stuart Rogers, he was part of the team which turned around the company’s large financial deficit. After Jonathan joined Chichester Festival Theatre, Tomas enjoyed close working relationships with subsequent Artistic Directors including Rachel Kavanaugh, Roxana Silbert, and Sean Foley.
During this appointment, Tomas oversaw an extensive programme of off-site work during a capital development between 2011 – 2013, linking The REP to the new Library of Birmingham, home to one of Shakespeare’s First Folios. He is particularly proud of the apprenticeship scheme he was instrumental in developing, which has seen numerous young people from Birmingham secure meaningful employment in technical roles within the theatre industry.
Speaking of the appointment, Erica Whyman, Acting Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company said: ‘Tomas has tremendous experience of producing theatre at every scale and has demonstrable commitment to innovation and to inclusion. This is a challenging time in the performing arts as we emerge from a bruising pandemic, so we need leaders who can motivate teams to embrace change and find new ways of working. We are very much looking forward to working alongside Tomas’.
RSC Leadership Associates
Also newly appointed to the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2022 are Justine Themen and Sandeep Mahal, who join the Senior Leadership Team as the company’s first Leadership Associates.
The new posts form part of the RSC’s commitment to diversifying the voices leading and governing the organisation. Sandeep and Justine will join the Company part-time to help guide the RSC’s strategic review until September 2022.
Sandeep Mahal is a highly experienced, collaborative and inclusive leader with over ten years’ experience of working at senior levels in the arts, libraries and cultural sector. She is combining her role as Leadership Associate with her role as Director of Sector Change at People Make it Work, where she is leading the development of the Office for Leadership Transition. She is the Founding Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature where she oversaw the development and growth of Nottingham as a vital place for creative exchange and celebration for literature, provided creative and strategic leadership of a new organisation and chaired the international UNESCO Cities of Literature Network. She was previously seconded to The Space and spent ten years in public libraries in Sandwell. In addition to libraries, she has many years of experience in the UK publishing environment, transforming the way UK publishers collaborated with the UK public library network. Sandeep is a Clore Leadership Fellow and has collaborated with people and organisations to create positive change through her work as a coach, facilitator, mentor and consultant.
Justine Themen is a Theatre Director and Change Maker, committed to placing an integrated approach to artistic excellence and creative engagement at the beating heart of contemporary theatre. She is outgoing Deputy Artistic Director of the Belgrade Theatre and Co-Artistic Director for its City of Culture 2021 programme.
Justine played a key role in the winning of the City of Culture title for Coventry, and directed Coventry Moves, its opening event, the first large-scale outdoor event in the UK as the country emerged from the second wave of the global pandemic.
Her work around diversity, community engagement and new work, has driven the agenda for the Belgrade Theatre’s organisational change programme, ‘Keys’, and its new vision for a regional theatre for all; as well as influencing Coventry City of Culture’s co-created approach to programming.
Her directing work spans a broad range of forms/contexts - from large-scale outdoor performance (Coventry Moves, Coventry City of Culture, 2021) to radio drama (This Little Relic, BBC Radio 4, 2021); from new writing from the UK’s diverse communities (Under the Umbrella by Amy Ng, Belgrade Theatre 2019), to innovative work with young people (Like There’s No Tomorrow, Belgrade Young Company/ NT Connections commission, 2019).
Prior to working at the Belgrade, she worked for six years in Suriname (the country her grandfather left for England in the late 1920s), co-creating theatre and using the Arts as a tool in Development and Cultural Diplomacy. She delivered projects for the Ministry of Education (Directorate of Culture), the Dutch Embassy and Arts Council and various UN organisations, as well as working closely with grass roots NGOs, particularly in the rain-forested interior of the country.
She is also a Fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme and sits on the Board of the Birmingham Opera Company.
RSC Rothschild Digital Fellowships
Three new Digital Fellows have also been announced, in partnership with the Rothschild Foundation Digital Fellowships programme which supports the digital leaders of the future.
The Fellows include Director, Writer and Dramaturg Kirsty Housley, who will explore the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and the gender biases that have evolved around this, digital artist Adam Clarke, who will focus on the intersection between live performance and video games, and multi-platform artist Ben Glover who will combine his experience as a deaf audience member and a background in creative computing to develop captioning technology in live performance.
Building on the RSC’s pioneering Dream collaboration in partnership with Manchester International Festival (MIF), Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) and Philharmonia Orchestra in March 2021, the Fellows will explore how new technologies could shape theatre in the future and what this could mean for audiences.
The Fellowships will be delivered in collaboration between the RSC and leading pioneers and specialists in three priority areas: Epic Games, i2 media research and the University of Portsmouth.
Each Fellowship will involve testing and prototyping a technology pipeline, design or concept in one of three key areas:
- Audiences: Working with the RSC and i2 media research (an expert consumer insight and user experience research and strategy consultancy based at Goldsmiths, University of London)
- Production: Working with the RSC and University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Creative and Immersive XR (CCIXR) – the UK’s first integrated facility to support innovation in the creative and digital technologies of virtual, augmented, and extended realities.
- Creative: Working with the RSC and Epic Games, creators of Unreal Engine, the world’s most open and advanced real-time 3D creation tool.
For further information and biogs, see the Notes to Editors section below.
For further information contact Kate Evans (Media and Communications Manager) at firstname.lastname@example.org 07920 244 434
Notes to editors:
The RSC is supported using public funding by Arts Council England
The RSC is generously supported by RSC America
The work of the RSC is supported by the Culture Recovery Fund
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) creates world class theatre, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world, performing plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, as well as commissioning an exceptionally wide range of original work from contemporary writers. Our purpose is to ensure that Shakespeare is for everyone, and we do that by unlocking the power of his plays and of live performance, throughout the UK and across the world.
We believe everybody’s life is enriched by culture and creativity. We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. Our transformative Learning Programmes reach over half a million young people and adults each year, and through our Placemaking and Public Programme we create projects with and for communities who have not historically engaged with our work. We are a leader in creative immersive technologies and digital development.
We have a proud record of innovation, diversity and excellence on stage and are determined to grasp the opportunity to become an even more inclusive, progressive, relevant and ambitious organisation.
We are committed to being a teaching and learning theatre – in which we create world class theatre for, with and by audiences and theatre makers of all ages. We provide training for emerging and established theatre makers and arts professionals, for teachers and for young people. We share learning formally and informally. We embed training and research across our company, work and processes.
We recognise the climate emergency and work hard to embed environmental sustainability into our operations, creative work and business practice, making a commitment to continually reduce our carbon footprint.
Keep Your RSC supports our mission to create theatre at its best, unlocking Shakespeare and transforming lives. Thousands of generous audience members, trusts and foundations and partners supported Keep Your RSC in 2020 and, alongside a £19.4 million loan from the Culture Recovery Fund, we are thrilled to be welcoming audiences back. It will take time to recover, to reopen all our theatres, and many years to repay the loan and the support and generosity of our audiences is more important than ever. Please donate at rsc.org.uk/donate
Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk
The Rothschild Foundation is a charity that supports arts and heritage, the environment and social welfare by awarding grants, fostering dialogue and debate, and through support of Waddesdon Manor. Established in 2010, the Foundation allocates £10 million in grant making annually. This sum is shared between the preservation of Waddesdon Manor, where the Foundation is based, and grants for wider public benefit. https://rothschildfoundation.org.uk/press-and-media/
Kirsty Housley is a director, writer and dramaturg.
Recent work includes Extinct for Theatre Royal Stratford East, The Long Goodbye Livestream for Manchester International Festival and Wetransfer, Tao of Glass at The Royal Exchange for Manchester International Festival (co-director with Phelim McDermott), Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran at Sundance Film Festival, BAC and The Traverse, Edinburgh (co-creator with Javaad Alipoor); Avalanche: A Love Story at Sydney Theatre (Dramaturg), I’m a Phoenix, Bitch (co-director with Bryony Kimmings), and Mephisto (A Rhapsody) at The Gate.
Other theatre includes The Encounter for Complicite for which she won The Stage award for Innovation in 2017. (co-director with Simon McBurney), Misty at The Bush and in the West End (dramaturg), The Believers are but Brothers at the Bush, Ovalhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse Transform17 Season and Northern Stage Edinburgh (as co-director); Myth at the RSC (co-written with Matt Hartley); A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer for Complicite at the National Theatre and Home Manchester (as dramaturg, and director on 2018 international tour).
Kirsty was the recipient of the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award for Cue Deadly, a Live Film Project, and the Title Pending award for innovation at Northern Stage. http://www.kirstyhousley.co.uk/
Adam Clarke is an artist best known for his ground-breaking work in Minecraft and for being one of the first creators to bring digital games into museums in collaboration with Tate Britain in Tate Worlds: Art Reimagined for Minecraft.
He’s also used video games to augment a global audience to explore a local community art project Temple craft with the artichoke trust and directed the Minecraft elements of Play-craft live, that combine live theatre stage show with a video game and a live-streamed audience. https://www.thecommonpeople.tv/portfolio
Ben Glover is an artist, video designer, motion graphics and virtual reality creator. He’s achieved an MA in digital theatre and BSc in Creative Computing. His skills are in Adobe Suite, Notch, Unreal Engine, Cinema 4D, Disguise, HTML, JS, CSS, PHP. His work embraces creative captioning and developing this technology to become more accessible and integrated into theatre making.
Ben’s research will focus on ways of integrating creative captioning and XR technology within the theatre-making process, leading to the development of software or a plugin that responds dynamically, within a live performance environment or production.