New Top Team at Trav

Nov 13 2019 | By More

Director appointments and new structure announced

Gareth Nicholls and Debbie Hannan have been appointed as co-artistic directors of the Traverse Theatre Company as the theatre announces a new structure and new faces in its artistic leadership team.

They will be joined by Lesley Anne Rose as director of creative development and Sunniva Ramsay as senior producer, creative development. Elsewhere, three new members of the Traverse board have been announced in independent film producer Rebecca O’Brien, writer Kieran Hurley and stage director Bryony Shanahan.

Gareth Nicholls, Debbie Hannan and Lesley Anne Rose. Pics: The Traverse

The Traverse says that the appointments form part of a new leadership structure to: “evolve the organisation’s position as a leading voice for the arts in Scotland and beyond”.

The theatre has gone with familiar faces for its artistic director duo. Nicholls, a previous associate director, has been interim artistic director since the departure of Orla O’Loughlin. Hannan is fresh from her recent success directing the National Theatre of Scotland’s stage adaptation of Jenni Fagan’s The Panopticon at the theatre.

Speaking of her appointment, Edinburgh-born Hannan, who is currently an associate director at The Bunker in London, said: “I am thrilled to be returning to my home-town to join such a brilliant and ambitious team who are transforming theatre from the inside out.

“The Traverse’s adventurous and inherently democratic mission to deliver new stories and expand their audiences encourages a widening where the world is currently narrowing: it is rooted in the kind of radicalism that Scotland does best – bold, brilliant, inclusive, in a voice of our own.”

beyond the building

The news comes after a year long consultation into how the theatre can increase the amount of work on its stages. This includes in-house productions, working with the community of Edinburgh theatre makers and companies, as well as bringing in more touring companies.

Hannan continued: “I first came to the Traverse as a local kid on a school trip, and heard working class characters speaking in my accent on stage for the first time. I knew then that my voice was valid, that the stage wasn’t an exclusive space.

“We will bring this experience to a whole new range of people, as we go beyond the building to expand who tells and experiences our stories.”

New board members: Rebecca O’Brien, Kieran Hurley and Bryony Shanahan. Pic The Traverse

Nicholls also expressed his “thrill” at continuing in the role of AD and working with team Traverse.

He said: “Scotland is blessed with an abundance of passionate writers telling vital stories and I’m looking forward to working with them to create entertaining, dynamic and ambitious new work that places audiences at their heart. I can’t wait to get started.”

Lesley Anne Rose was head of artistic development at Aberdeen Performing Arts and was recently appointed embedded artist working with Creative Carbon Scotland and Climate Ready Clyde – a position she will continue whilst working with the Traverse Theatre.

She said: “It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be joining the Traverse at such a pivotal and exciting time for the organisation. The Traverse offered me my first job in Scottish theatre when I moved here ten years ago and forms an important and formative part of my past.

“I look forward to being part of its future and discovering the as yet unknown voices and untold stories which will be brought to vibrant life on its Edinburgh stages and far beyond.”

additional board positions

The new team members will be active in their positions from early 2020.

The new board members are Rebecca O’Brien, a successful independent film producer who has worked on many of Ken Loach’s films; award-winning writer and theatre maker Kieran Hurley, who wrote both Mouthpiece and BEATS; and Bryony Shanahan, joint artistic director of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.

The Traverse will also open applications early in 2020 for additional board positions to provide additional support and consultation in evolving the organisation’s work in the areas of digital, artistic and audience diversity.


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