THE National Theatre of Scotland has looked south for the second time to find a new artistic director, after a worldwide hunt.
Laurie Sansom, at present artistic director of the Royal & Derngate Theatre, in Northampton, will take over from Vicky Featherstone after her hugely successful six-year reign comes to an end at the end of this year.
Mr Sansom is another surprise choice for NTS, after Ms Featherstone was plucked from the Plaines Plough theatre company in 2004, confounding the critics with a string of hit shows.
However, Mr Sansom, a Cambridge University graduate, already has regular experience of working in Scotland, mainly at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Most recently he won plaudits with a revival of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which was staged at the Assembly Hall on the Mound.
He also worked with acapella group the Magnets on one of their hit Fringe shows, as well as the National Theatre on its show 218: Underground.
The 40-year-old, who scooped two major regional theatre awards during his six-year spell in Northampton, had not been among the names thrown up in speculation about who would replace Ms Featherstone.
It emerged in May that she was quitting NTS – just over six years after its first shows – to become the first female artistic director at the Royal Court Theatre in London.
Before arriving at the Northampton theatre in 2006, Mr Sansom worked alongside award-winning actor Alan Ayckbourn at his own Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.
He said: “It is a thrilling challenge to lead the National Theatre of Scotland through the next stage of its development as it continues to champion new and innovative work in Scotland and beyond.
“I’m looking forward to working with the many artists, companies and venues producing ground-breaking work throughout the country, and confirming Scotland as the most exciting place to make and experience theatre in the UK.”
Mr Sansom told The Scotsman he saw NTS as “the most exciting arts organisation in the UK”.
“That’s why I applied for the post,” he added. “The theatre- without-walls policy, which I know was quite controversial when it was first announced, is hugely exciting and I certainly intend to continue the tradition of taking theatre to every part of the country, and some very unusual places.
“I know many of the theatre directors in Scotland already, I have seen several National Theatre of Scotland productions, such as Black Watch and Beautiful Burnout, and I’ve been coming to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe almost every year since I was 11.”
Mr Sansom said he was “well aware” of the current dispute between artists, artistic organisations and the quango Creative Scotland. He added: “I will certainly be looking to see if there is anything NTS can do to help with the situation, as it is obviously important there is a healthy relationship.”
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