Hull Truck Theatre has appointed Mark Babych as its new artistic director.
The appointment marks the first artistic director Hull Truck has had in two years, after Gareth Tudor Price was made redundant in 2011 and not replaced by then chief executive Andrew Smaje.
Babych, a former artistic director at Bolton’s Octagon Theatre, has been working as a freelance director for the last four years. He is currently directing Cooking with Elvis at Derby Theatre and will take up his position with Hull Truck in May.
He said: “I am thrilled to be joining Hull Truck – this is a fantastic opportunity to build on the illustrious history and traditions of this wonderful company and make work that forges deep connections with audiences in Hull, welcomes creativity and collaboration and nurtures the development of talent and the new generation of writers and artists who will shape the future of our work.”
When Price was made redundant in April 2011, Equity criticised the move, claiming it risked turning the venue into a “receiving house” only. John Godber, a former artistic director at the theatre, also ended his 25-year association with the organisation as a result of Price’s departure, calling the move “ludicrous”.
Speaking to The Stage this week and prior to Babych’s appointment, Mike Bradwell, who founded the theatre in 1972, said the venue had “lost its way” and needed to appoint an artistic director.
He added that he had formed the company to make “dangerous and dirty work” and claimed Hull Truck was in danger of becoming “clean and safe”.
“What it has got to do is forget its past. Forget about me and John Godber and look at what it’s got, what it wants and go for it. Hull has been bypassed for a while and it has to become, absolutely, a theatre that serves that population in a very important way, without worrying about me or John Godber. Someone has to come with passion and identity and make it their own. We all know that when regional theatre works best it’s because there is somebody at the centre of it who cares passionately about it,” he said.
Last November, Smaje, who was chief executive at the time, left the theatre. Following this, Pat Weller, dubbed a “troubleshooter” by people working within the industry, was appointed interim executive director.
This week, Hull Truck advertised for a new executive director, who will be responsible for “working alongside the artistic director to deliver a vibrant identity” for the theatre.