Lyric Hammersmith reveals new artistic director

The Lyric Hammersmith has announced that award-winning director Rachel O’Riordan will take over as its new artistic director and joint chief executive.

Lyric Hammersmith new artistic director

Rachel O’Riordan and Sian Alexander. Photo: David Tett

She will join Sian Alexander, who has been the Lyric’s executive director and joint chief executive since October 2015, to lead the west London theatre together.

She is replacing Sean Holmes who announced in May that he would be leaving in October 2018. O’Riordan will join in early February 2019 with her first full season as artistic director opening in autumn 2019.
She has been the artistic director and CEO of Sherman Theatre in Cardiff since February 2014. During her time the theatre has been transformed into a vibrant, exciting and influential producing theatre, winning The Stage Awards’ Regional Theatre of the Year category in 2018.
She was previously artistic director of Perth Theatre Scotland and Ransom Theatre Company in Northern Ireland. Her recent credits as director include The Cherry Orchard for Sherman Theatre and Come on Home at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.
She said: “The Lyric Hammersmith is one of the most exciting theatres in London. It occupies a special place in the theatre ecology: egalitarian, open and bold.
“I am looking forward to continuing the theatre’s journey and leading a new phase of artistic evolution, working alongside Sian Alexander and the Lyric team.
“I am honoured to have been chosen to succeed Sean Holmes, and look forward to getting to know new audiences in west London and beyond.”
Alexander added: “I am very much looking forward to working with Rachel. She brings with her a wealth of brilliant experience as a leader and a director.
“She is an inspiring creative producer. She shares our values and passion for developing talent, creating opportunities for young people and working to ensure the theatre is at the heart of its local community. I’m hugely excited for the future of the Lyric under our joint leadership.”
Holmes revealed his final season of programmed shows, beginning in January 2019, on Tuesday.
He said: “I’m delighted that a director as inventive and passionate as Rachel is taking the helm at the Lyric. I look forward with excitement to seeing how she shapes the artistic identity of the Lyric over the coming years.’
O’Riordan will direct her final production for Sherman Theatre, Alice in Wonderland, this Christmas.

David Stacey, chair of the board of trustees at the Cardiff-based theatre, said: “It has been a pleasure to work closely with Rachel and the executive team in developing the Sherman Theatre into a producing house with a UK-wide reputation for award winning work.

“The awards speak for themselves but are a small reward for her drive, personality and commitment to the cause of our company.

“She will be greatly missed but the foundations she has helped to establish are now well embedded in our company and we will strive to improve the legacy she has left us. The board wish her every success in her new challenge at the Lyric Hammersmith.”

O’Riordan added: “My time as artistic director of Sherman Theatre has been defined by extraordinary relationships. With artists, with audiences and with the city of Cardiff.

“It has been my honour to serve this community, to be at the heart of the arts in this great country. I have made some of my best work on the Sherman’s two brilliant stages, and worked with exceptional people.

“I have seen audiences grow, new artists emerge, and established artists refine and evolve their work. I will miss everyone terribly, but I am so proud of the theatre I now leave.

“Thank you, to those I have worked with, for being brave and brilliant partners on my journey here. The artists and the Arts Council, funders and friends. And the Sherman team, who are warriors. It has been wonderful. Welsh talent’s future is only beginning.”


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