With his critically acclaimed production of King Lear soon to embark on a national tour, Michael Grandage today announces his farewell season as Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, stepping down from the role in December 2011.
Following the run of the musical comedy The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee; David Bradley, Deborah Findlay and Daniel Mays lead the company of Pinter's Moonlight before Michael Grandage directs FeliciTy Jones in Schiller's Luise Miller in a new version by Mike Poulton. His final season, announced today, sees the return of many Donmar alumni in new productions of Anna Christie by Eugene O'Neill, Inadmissible Evidence by John Osborne and Richard II by William Shakespeare. He is joined in his final season by his two outgoing Associate Directors Jamie Lloyd and Rob Ashford.
On becoming Artistic Director in 2002, Grandage took over a company that owned neither theatre nor rehearsal space. Under his tenure the company have purchased the lease of the theatre (taking ownership in 2016), and today he also announces their intention to purchase an office, education and rehearsal space for the company before he departs. This legacy will help secure the long term future of the Donmar in uncertain financial times.
Michael Grandage said today "After nearly ten years running the Donmar, it is a very exciting and emotional moment to announce my farewell season. From next month to February 2012 we will be presenting six new productions and I am delighted this final year celebrates so much of the repertoire we have presented over the last decade. It is particularly wonderful to be joined by so many friends and colleagues in this last season of work - it is these collaborations and creative partnerships both on stage and with the staff at the Donmar, that have made the achievements of the past ten years possible, and I hope the range and diversity of our programme continues to reach out to many more people in the year ahead".
Grandage took over as Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse in November 2002 and his final production of Richard II will close in February 2012. During a decade of leading the organisation he has created an interNational Theatre with a commitment to connecting with as many people as possible through touring, education and affordable ticket prices, as well as continuing to produce work of the highest quality at the company's home base in Covent Garden.
Between 2002 and 2012 Grandage will have presented seventy productions. Under his leadership, the company have garnered over eighty major awards including Oliviers, Tonys, Critics' Circle and Evening Standard Awards. For Grandage personally this includes, Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Director of a Play for Red, Evening Standard and Critics' Circle Awards for Best Director for Ivanov, Evening Standard and Critics' Circle Awards for Best Director for The Chalk Garden, Evening Standard Award for Best Director for Othello, Critics' Circle Award for Best Director for The Wild Duck, Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production for Guys and Dolls, Evening Standard Award for Best Director and Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production for Grand Hotel, and Olivier Award for Best Director for Caligula.
Grandage's inaugural production in 2002 was The Vortex with Chiwetel Ejiofor, a relationship he was to renew five years later with his multi-award-winning production of Othello. He has put the European repertoire at the heart of his programming, engaging with leading writers to offer new adaptations of foreign classics including David Greig (Caligula and Creditors), Tom Stoppard (Pirandello's Henry IV and Ivanov) and David Eldridge (The Wild Duck and John Gabriel Borkman). The Donmar's award-winning production of Schiller's Mary Stuart, in a new version by Peter Oswald, transferred to the West End and Broadway.
He has also continued to present musicals re-imagined in the intimate Donmar surroundings, including Grand Hotel, Parade, and most recently Passion; as well as work from the contemporary American repertoire such as A Streetcar Named Desire, and twentieth century British plays including The Chalk Garden, Old Times, Betrayal and a festival of work devoted to T.S. Eliot, with a revival of The Family Reunion as its centrepiece. New writing has provided the company with two of its biggest successes in recent years - Peter Morgan's Frost/Nixon which enjoyed a West End transfer and a run on Broadway, and John Logan's Red which saw the company return to Broadway and win six Tonys at the 2010 awards.
During his tenure, Grandage put accessibility at the forefront of the company's ethos - he introduced a national touring programme and an extensive education programme which has grown annually over the last nine years. In 2009 he led the company into the West End for a year long season of work at the Wyndham's Theatre - Donmar West End - at Donmar prices, a top price of £32.50 and with over 130 tickets for each performance at just £10. The season - Ivanov with Kenneth Branagh, Twelfth Night with Derek Jacobi, Madame de Sade with Judi Dench and Hamlet with Jude Law - played to 98% capacity.
In addition to a national touring programme, Grandage has also overseen the expansion of the company internationally - in 2009 the Donmar's work played across 4 continents. Recent US work includes Red, Creditors, Hamlet, Frost/Nixon and Mary Stuart; in Australia, the Donmar's award-winning Guys and Dolls; in Argentina, Piaf and in Europe, Piaf (Spain) and Hamlet (Denmark).
Grandage is a keen supporter of new talent, both on stage and behind the scenes. The company's most recent venture, Donmar Trafalgar, is a three year initiative to promote the work of recent graduates of the Donmar's Resident Assistant Director scheme. The second season of work will begin at the end of this year with work directed by Hamish Pirie, Abbey Wright and Paul Hart.
From 2000 to 2005 he served as Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres where he produced over 40 plays with predominantly young directors and designers. His own work there included Richard III with Kenneth Branagh, Edward II with Joseph Fiennes, The Tempest with Derek Jacobi and an award- winning production of Don Carlos which transferred to the West End.