"Jenny Topper to stand down as Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre

"Jenny Topper to stand down as Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre

Jenny Topper has announced that she will stand down as Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre six months after the new building opens in late 2002.

She agreed with the Hampstead Theatre Board that she would see the development of the new theatre through to its completion, before handing over to a new Artistic Director.

Rumours of possible replacements are Dominic Dromgoole, Max Stafford-Clark and James MacDonald

Jenny Topper says:" It has been my great privilege to guide Hampstead Theatre into its new home, but it is my belief that new buildings need to be fuelled by new energy. The process of change has been carefully managed and so I am able to look forward with relish to our final nine months in our current building and with keen anticipation to opening the new theatre. Ever since the Council condemned our portacabin I have committed myself to seeing a new Hampstead Theatre built for new generations of theatre goers."

Vincent Wang, Chairman of the Board says: "Jenny has had an outstanding career since she joined Hampstead Theatre as Artistic Director in 1988. She has built on the theatre's worldwide reputation for first class new writing. Under her directorship, Hampstead has had success in the West End, the regions and on Broadway. Over the past five years she has not only run the existing theatre but worked to ensure that our new theatre becomes a reality. We are indebted to her for her commitment and her vision. Jenny will be handing over one of the most exciting jobs in British Theatre - the chance to run a vibrant new writing theatre with a stunning new home backed up by an experienced management team."

Under Jenny Topper's directorship, the theatre has produced 126 plays of which 90 were premieres. In the last 13 years alone 21 productions have transferred to the West End, 18 have toured the country and two have transferred to Broadway. 34 productions have had further lives in television, film, in the regions and across the world.

The Hampstead theatre in Swiss Cottage was founded in 1959 by James Roose-Evans. Artistic Directors have been Vivian Matalon (1971-73), Michael Rudman (1973-78), David Aukin (1978-84) and Michael Attenborough (1984-88).

Designed by architects, Bennetts Associates,the new Hampstead Theatre will be the first new stand-alone producing theatre to be built in London since the National opened in 1976. The landmark building will be a striking translucent structure housing an elliptical auditorium that can be adapted to the needs of individual productions. The flexible auditorium space will seat a small audience of 140 or 200 and can be extended up to 325. It will also house a space dedicated exclusively to the theatre's thriving education and community work and a stylish bar and café open throughout the day and evening. Both public and backstage areas will offer greatly improved facilities and full access for people with disabilities.


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