Unexpected news: The National Theatre of Scotland has announced that artistic director and chief executive Laurie Sansom will be leaving the organisation at the end of June. Sansom will have come to the end of his initial three year contract.
The NTS has refused to make any further comment as to the reason for his departure beyond the statement in the release which says Sansom: “now plans to explore ambitious directing opportunities in the UK and internationally.”
After Sansom’s departure, the NTS will be led by the Edinburgh-based culture sector professional Lucy Mason who will take up the role of interim chief executive. Mason is a partner in Mason Bone Projects which is currently running EPAD, the Edinburgh Performing Arts Development project. She was chief executive at Dance Base for six year, an advisor to the Scottish Government on the Performing Arts.
According to the NTS announcement of Sansom’s departure, Mason will oversee the NTS’s creation of: “a senior leadership structure to take the company into its second exciting decade.” The NTS’s announcement appears to have come as something of a surprise to commentators and industry insiders alike.
Fergus Linehan, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, tweeted “Ah no!” at the news – adding in reply to a question from Ruth Wishart of whether he knew why: “nope, caught us by surprise“.
The EIF and the NTS are collaborating with the TEAM this August with Anything That Gives Off Light, while the EIF was a major co-producer of the NTS production of The James Plays, the current big internationl hit directed by Sansom.
The full text of the NTS press release announcing Sansom’s departure is as follows:
Press Release for immediate release – April 15, 2016
National Theatre of Scotland announces the departure of Artistic Director and Chief Executive Laurie Sansom
Laurie Sansom, the National Theatre of Scotland’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive is to leave the company at the end of June.
His three years in charge have seen the company produce a diverse range of critically-acclaimed and impactful theatre, the centerpiece of which has been The James Plays, the epic trilogy of history plays charting the fortunes of Scottish Kings James I, II & III which have played to five-star reviews at international festivals in Edinburgh, Adelaide and Auckland and at the National Theatre of Great Britain in London. The award-winning plays, directed by Laurie, are currently on a Scottish and UK tour and have star billing at Toronto’s Luminato Festival.
Following his experience of directing large-scale new work for the National Theatre of Scotland Laurie now plans to explore ambitious directing opportunities in the UK and internationally.
Lucy Mason will take up the role of interim Chief Executive, on his departure, while the National Theatre of Scotland puts in place a senior leadership structure to take the company into its second exciting decade.
Dame Seona Reid, Chair of the National Theatre of Scotland says:
“During the past three years Laurie’s imprint on theatre-making in Scotland has been impactful and far-reaching. Throughout this time, as they have done for a decade, the staff, company and wider community of creative collaborators that form the National Theatre of Scotland have delivered with passion on their mission of creating inspiring theatre experiences for, and of Scotland, for the widest range of audiences.
“Laurie is without question one of the world’s leading theatre directors. It is entirely fitting that his three years at the National Theatre of Scotland come to a close as the epic trilogy of The James Plays which he has nurtured and directed have been playing to Scottish and international audiences and to critical acclaim.’
“We wish Laurie every success for the future. He is a special talent and we thank him warmly for his defining contribution to theatre-making in Scotland.
“The National Theatre of Scotland looks forward to starting its second decade by delivering a wide range of compelling new work and its first permanent home in Glasgow which we are committed to establishing as a creative heart for Scotland’s theatre-makers.”
Laurie Sansom says
“I’m intensely proud to have been part of a National Theatre of Scotland which has produced such a wealth of bold and relevant theatre for audiences across a nation and across the world.
“It has been a privilege to play a part in shaping the story of an amazing first decade in the life of one of the world’s great new national theatre companies but I believe it is time for new leadership to take the Company into its next decade as it moves into its new creation centre. I can’t thank enough the artists and audiences who have made this such a rewarding and inspiring time for me”.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The National Theatre of Scotland is dedicated to playing the great stages, arts centres, village halls, schools and site-specific locations of Scotland, the UK and internationally. As well as creating ground-breaking productions and working with the most talented theatre-makers, the National Theatre of Scotland produces significant community engagement projects, innovates digitally and works constantly to develop new talent. Central to this is finding pioneering ways to reach current and new audiences and to encourage people’s full participation in the Company’s work. With no performance building of its own, the Company works with existing and new venues and companies to create and tour theatre of the highest quality. Founded in 2006, the Company, in its short life, has become a globally significant theatrical player, with an extensive repertoire of award-winning work. The National Theatre of Scotland is supported by the Scottish Government. www.nationaltheatrescotland.com
2. Lucy Mason is a leading figure within the Scottish arts sector, with over 25 years’ of experience at a number of major arts organisations. She served as the Chief Executive at Edinburgh’s Dance Base from 2001-2007, before joining the Scottish Government as a Performing Arts Advisor, responsible for overseeing the funding relationship with the country’s five national performing companies for two years. In 2014 she was appointed as the Joint Chief Executive and Artistic Director at The Arches, before joining Festival and King’s Theatres Edinburgh as a Project Manager in 2015. As a freelancer she has worked with companies including the National theatre of Scotland, Creative Scotland, Imaginate, and the Federation of Scottish Theatre