Future Directors of the Abbey Theatre Appointed
 

Future Directors of the Abbey Theatre Appointed

NEIL MURRAY AND GRAHAM MCLAREN OF THE NATIONAL THEATRE OF SCOTLAND APPOINTED AS THE FUTURE DIRECTORS OF THE ABBEY THEATRE

~ ‘We believe in the concept of a national theatre that reaches all of the country’ says new leadership team who will take over in 2017~

Tuesday 21 July 2015 ~ The Board of Directors of the Abbey Theatre is delighted to announce the appointment of Neil Murray and Graham McLaren as the new Directors of the Abbey Theatre.

Both theatre-makers come to the Abbey Theatre from the National Theatre of Scotland. Neil Murray currently Executive Producer at the National Theatre of Scotland and Graham McLaren currently Associate Director of the National Theatre of Scotland will work together as a joint leadership team. Both will take the title of Director.

The Board of the Abbey Theatre launched a search for a new Director in April 2015 stating they were open to receiving joint applications from more than one candidate.

Fiach Mac Conghail’s successful tenure as Director of the Abbey Theatre will end in December 2016 after 12 years in the role. Neil Murray and Graham McLaren will be responsible for programming from January 2017 on. They will commence as Directors Designate on 1 July 2016 working alongside Fiach Mac Conghail to ensure a smooth transition.

Speaking today at the Abbey Theatre, Dr. Bryan McMahon, Chairman of the Abbey Theatre said: “I am delighted to welcome Neil Murray and Graham McLaren, as the new Directors of the Abbey Theatre. They will share the leadership together as a team. The Board’s appointment of two people with diverse yet complementary skill-sets to lead the Abbey Theatre is indicative of the Board’s ambition for the Abbey Theatre’s future evolution and growth. The combined strengths of this dynamic and visionary duo will see the Abbey Theatre embark on exciting new journeys with artists and audiences in the years to come.

Neil Murray possesses international experience as a creative and commercial Executive Producer while Graham McLaren holds a distinguished reputation as a theatre Director and Designer. They have both been instrumental in the development of the National Theatre of Scotland in recent years. Their Scottish experience will bring a fresh, international perspective to the the Abbey Theatre. They advocate a great vision for the future of the Abbey Theatre, particularly with regard to growing our presence and reach across Ireland and the world.

On 1 January 2017 Fiach Mac Conghail will be handing over a thriving national theatre poised for the next stage of its development. In July 2016, Neil Murray and Graham McLaren will commence work as Director Designates working alongside Fiach Mac Conghail to ensure a smooth transition for artists, staff and audiences.”

Speaking at the Abbey Theatre today where they met with members of Abbey Theatre staff for the first time, Neil Murray and Graham McLaren said: “We are thrilled and honoured to be offered the opportunity to run the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national theatre and one of the world’s great companies. We will join the Abbey Theatre from The National Theatre of Scotland, which has proved to be a successful, revolutionary venture, and, of course, the Abbey Theatre has its own unique history and place in world theatre.

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.

Ireland has an enviable pool of talent across all spheres of theatre making and the wider arts, who deserve a place on the Abbey Theatre’s stages. We both look forward to living and working in Ireland and building on the great work that Fiach Mac Conghail and the Abbey Theatre team has been doing. We believe that we can tap into the amazing talent and resource that exists in Ireland, to build an organisation that challenges assumptions around the words “national”, “theatre” and “Ireland” and deliver a truly exciting, successful and sustainable Abbey Theatre.”

Fiach Mac Conghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre said: “Congratulations to Neil Murray and Graham McLaren on their appointment to the most rewarding and exciting role in Irish theatre. I look forward to working alongside them from July 2016 on to ensure a smooth transition. I will be very proud to hand over a vibrant, creative and successful Abbey Theatre in 2017.”

Thomas Kilroy, renowned playwright and Abbey Theatre Board member said: “We had two things in mind in making these appointments. One was the preservation of the Abbey Theatre heritage and its canon of dramatic writing. The other was leadership, bringing the theatre forward into a challenging and exciting future. I believe that Neil Murray and Graham McLaren can meet these goals. We were greatly taken by the invigorating, theatrical imagination of their joint presentations. We were also impressed by their ambition to make the Abbey Theatre a theatre for all the people on the island of Ireland.”

Deirdre Kinahan, playwright and Abbey Theatre Board member said: “This appointment reflects our ambition for the Abbey Theatre as Ireland’s national theatre and as a leading force in Ireland’s creative life. We believe that Neil Murray and Graham McLaren offer a thrilling and dynamic vision for Irish theatre. Their international experience, particularly at the National Theatre of Scotland coupled with an extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for Ireland’s artistic life provides for a fresh perspective as to the future of the Abbey Theatre.”

Neil Murray is currently Executive Producer of the National Theatre of Scotland where he has worked since its inception, in 2005. Previously, for six years he was the Director of the Tron Theatre, Glasgow where he was responsible for producing Tron Theatre Company productions and programming all visiting work. Murray has overseen the creation and expansion of the National Theatre of Scotland from a standing start in 2005 into a major international touring Company. He has been particularly involved in the international work of the Company which has seen them tour, extensively, to China, the USA, Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Poland and Ireland.

He has also been instrumental in their work transferring, commercially, to the West End of London (Let The Right One In) and Broadway, New York (The ‘Alan Cumming’ Macbeth). In addition, he has developed and managed co-productions with companies as diverse as The National Theatre of Great Britain, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Barbican and Royal Court Theatres, London, Campo (Ghent, Belgium), Parco (Tokyo, Japan) and TEAM (New York). Neil has also worked for 7:84 Theatre Company Scotland, the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow and Granada Television, Manchester.

Graham McLaren is currently Associate Director of the National Theatre of Scotland. A Director and Designer, he has been working in theatre for over twenty years. His productions of European classics have been seen in London’s West End, ancient Greek amphitheatres, black box studios and on the main stages National Theatres and major festivals across the world. At the age of 25 he established the internationally acclaimed Theatre Babel, and during that period also served as Artistic Director for Perth Rep Theatre Scotland. He then left Scotland for a brief time to work as Associate Artist for Necessary Angel Theatre Co. in Canada before being invited to join National Theatre of Scotland in 2010 as Associate Director.

The Abbey Theatre acknowledges the support of The Arts Council/An Comhairle Ealaíon.

For press queries please contact: Myra Mc Auliffe, Head of Communications, Abbey Theatre, Mobile: 087 – 372 4111, Email: myra.mcauliffe@abbeytheatre.ie

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