The Royal Shakespeare Company has appointed two people to be co-artistic directors for the first time in four decades.
Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey – the first woman to be permanently appointed artistic director at the RSC – will take up their post in June next year.
The pair have a history of collaborating in theatrical productions and put in a joint application for the job, which was advertised publicly.
Evans and Harvey would “shake-up” Shakespeare, Sam Mendes, the stage and film director, said.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled at the prospect of two of the best artistic directors in the UK combining to take the RSC into its next exciting chapter. It’s time for Shakespeare to have a bit of a shake-up – and I have no doubt Daniel and Tamara will do just that,” he said.
Evans, an actor as well as director, has been artistic director of the ChichesterFestival theatre since 2016. Harvey has been artistic director of Theatr Clwyd since 2015.
They will succeed Gregory Doran who announced his departure in April after 35 years at the company, including a decade as artistic director. Doran, who led the RSC through the challenges of the Covid pandemic, stepped down after taking leave to care for his husband, Sir Antony Sher, who died of cancer in December 2021, although he remains artistic director emeritus until the end of next year.
Erica Whyman, who has been acting artistic director since Doran’s departure, will leave the company next June to pursue a freelance career.
Shriti Vadera, chair of the RSC board, said Evans and Harvey were appointed from an “exceptionally strong field of candidates. They bring a brilliant track record of artistic achievement with a strong commitment to education, communities and championing diverse talent and voices, alongside a proven strategic ability to lead major companies”.
Evans and Harvey recalled seeing RSC productions at the company’s base in Stratford-upon-Avon as teenagers.
Evans, who grew up in Wales and was educated in Welsh, said: “I was fortunate to see so many inspiring performances at Stratford during my teenage years; and later celebrated my 21st birthday there during my first professional job post-drama school.
“So to be returning to the RSC as its co-artistic director is immensely meaningful to me. To do so alongside Tamara is a joy and a privilege. We share deep-rooted values and an ambitious vision for the company.”
Harvey, who was born in Botswana and grew up in Massachusetts and Brighton, said: “Being taken to Stratford to see Murder in the Cathedral at the Swan when I was 15 was one of the most vivid moments of my childhood: a sense of awe, but even then, a desire to get in there and start making plays – two feelings I continue to hold today.
“Stepping into this job is both the most exciting and the most daunting thing I’ve ever done.”
She and Evans had a “shared belief in all that the RSC can be – a home for radical, relevant theatre made by artists from across the UK and the wider world. A global community inspired by Shakespeare, bringing together myriad voices to tell the stories of our time – and of all time”.
The last co-artistic directors of the company were Terry Hands and Trevor Nunn, who were jointly appointed in 1978, with Hands assuming sole control in 1986.