After almost a decade as artistic director and joint chief executive of the Lyric Hammersmith, Sean Holmes will step down in October 2018.
During Holmes’ tenure at the Lyric (he joined in January 2009), he has directed 22 shows including the Olivier Award Winning Blasted, which received the 2011 Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre award. His ground-breaking Secret Theatre project reinvented the traditional approaches to making theatre as well as the theatre-going experience.
One of the most prominent achievements during his joint tenure with the then executive director Jessica Hepburn, was the planning, fundraising, and completion of a major capital development project, completed in 2015. Holmes’ production of Bugsy Malone – the first stage version in over a decade – reopened theatre.
Diversity and access for young people have remained a priority – both the audience demographic and through the Lyric’s outreach work – which has increased dramatically under his and current executive director, Sian Alexander’s joint leadership.
Holmes’ final directing projects at the Lyric were The Plough and The Stars – a revival of his 2016 production to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising – and a remount of A Midsummer Night’s Dream currently on a major national tour.
Holmes’ distinctive programming choices have presented an extraordinary scope of work – both experimental and accessible. In addition to introducing pantomime to the Lyric, alongside Bugsy Malone, The Seagull and Saved, Holmes has placed such shows as Philip Venables’ operatic setting of Sarah Kane’s final play 4.48 Psychosis, Things I Know to be True from Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company Australia, and the influential international co-production Three Kingdoms.
During his time at the Lyric, Holmes has also invested considerably in the careers of young directors, writers and actors from a wide range of backgrounds, through mentoring and proactive support.
The end of Holmes’ tenure at the Lyric will see a three-month refurbishment of the theatre’s 550-seat Victorian Matcham auditorium and the modernisation of the Studio theatre, beginning in June 2018.
Sean Holmes says:
“I’ve been incredibly lucky over the last nine years to have been the artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith. During that time, it has been a home to the weird, the wonderful and the unexpected. There have been successes and failures – some glorious – but the Lyric has always remained defiantly itself. A local, London, national, international theatre, proud of its Hammersmith roots and open to all.
“I’m going to miss it very much, but I feel it’s time for a new generation to take over the helm and look forward with great anticipation and excitement to seeing a new artistic vision illuminating the theatre I love.”
Executive director Sian Alexander adds: “It’s been a joy and a privilege to co-lead the Lyric with Sean in the final three years of his tenure. We will truly miss him and his unique spirit and energy. He leaves the Lyric in rude health and I look forward to continuing to build on all we have achieved.”
Sean Holmes’ productions for the Lyric include: The Plough and The Stars (also at Abbey Theatre Dublin and a Irish/US Tour), The Seagull, Terror, Shopping and F**king, Bugsy Malone, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (UK Tour/Manchester Royal Exchange/Brisbane Festival/Dublin International Festival), Herons, Secret Theatre Shows 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7, Cinderella, Desire Under the Elms, Morning, Have I None, Saved, Blasted (winner Olivier Award 2011, Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre), A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky, Ghost Stories (also Duke of York’s/Liverpool Playhouse/Panasonic Theatre, Toronto/Arts Theatre), Three Sisters and Comedians.