St James Theatre artistic and executive directors to quit London venue

The St James Theatre in London. Photo: Tom Cronin
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The St James Theatre’s artistic director David Gilmore and executive theatre director Guy Kitchenn are to step down from their roles at the end of this month.

The London venue’s two senior members of staff have been in their posts for two and a half years, prior to the venue opening last September.

In a joint statement they said they were leaving to create a new production company to bring works to a “wider audience”.

They said: “It has been exhilarating to be part of the creation of a new theatre for London; from building site to a fully developed and flourishing part of the West End theatrical scene.

“Our inaugural year of productions culminating in the critically acclaimed Scenes From A Marriage directed by Trevor Nunn is now complete and we are already programmed through much of 2014. We are happy to be leaving the St James Theatre safe in the knowledge that it has a very exciting season ahead.”

They added: "We are both very excited about the future and have some wonderful projects we hope to bring to a wider audience, and of course hope that some of these will be seen at the St James in the future."

The pair will leave their posts on November 23 when their contracts expire.

Robert Mackintosh, creative director at the St James Theatre, said: "David and Guy have fulfilled the huge task of getting the St James Theatre up and running and we couldn’t have asked for two better people to do the job.

"I will remain as executive producer and will continue to work with our team to provide London theatre goers with evermore exciting productions at the St James Theatre. I look forward to working both David and Guy again in the near future on some of their own projects."

The St James Theatre, which includes a 312-seat main auditorium and a second 100-seat space, was built as the long-awaited replacement for the Westminster Theatre.

The Westminster Theatre was closed in 2002 and was later demolished after a fire. Plans to create the UK’s first black-led theatre on the site collapsed in 2005 when Arts Council England removed £4 million of capital funding because of internal problems at theatre company Talawa, which was to run the site.

Reopening plans then remained in limbo, with the site at one point mooted as a potential new home for the Bush Theatre, until theatre company London Aloft came on board in 2008 with plans to run the venue as a commercial operation. An opening in 2010 was announced, but building work then stalled, difficulties emerging around stipulations in the original planning permission.

Late in 2010, the building’s developer Yolanda Limited controversially removed London Aloft from the project and replaced the company with the current team behind the St James Theatre, led by joint chief executives Mackintosh and Alan Judd. They hold a 75-year lease on the theatre site.