Neil Murray and Graham McLaren are to leave their key roles at the National Theatre of Scotland next year, to take over as joint directors of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre.
Murray has been the NTS’ Executive Producer, a combined managerial and production role with overall responsibility for the company’s operations, since it was formed in 2005. Theatre Babel founder McLaren has been an associate director at the company since 2010.
The Abbey is Ireland’s national theatre, and the pair will take on the roles as its director designates in July 2016, working in tandem with current director Kiach Mac Conghail until he hands over the reigns on 1 January 2017.
Murray and McLaren were in Dublin today to meet staff and the press. Echoing the without-walls philosophy that has been the trademark of the NTS since its inception, they said: “We believe in the concept of a national theatre that reaches all of the country.
“This applies to touring work, but also addresses the issue of where shows and projects are rooted and made, regardless of geographical remoteness or perceived social barriers.
“We also believe in an international perspective that will take the Abbey Theatre’s best work out of the country on a regular basis and bring exciting international artists to Ireland.”
Laurie Sansom, NTS artistic director, described Murray as “instrumental in steering us towards the national and international renown we’ve achieved,” and McLaren as “integral to the shaping of our creative programme.”
energy, passion and irreverence
He added that McLaren has directed some of the NTS’s biggest recent successes, including Yer Granny and In Time O’ Strife.
Sansom added: “That Graham and Neil have been snapped up by one of the world’s leading theatres is testament to their zeal and expertise in nurturing theatre-makers and serving audiences.
“It is an enormous feather in the cap of Scottish theatre and a testament to the founding principles and successes of the National Theatre of Scotland that they will now run The Abbey, the national theatre of one of our nearest neighbours.”
Thanking them for their support since taking over as NTS artistic director, Sansom added: “The National Theatre of Scotland has thrived on their energy, passion and irreverence and their ability to take the seed of an idea and turn it into an extraordinary theatrical experience.
“We will all miss them hugely and we wish them every possible success.”