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‘He will shake up British theatre’ – Industry reacts to Kwei-Armah Young Vic appointment

Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo: Richard Anderson
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Leading theatremakers have said they are “thrilled” about what Kwame Kwei-Armah’s appointment as artistic director of London’s Young Vic “means for theatre”.

The Stage broke the news this morning after multiple sources confirmed that Kwei-Armah would succeed David Lan, who announced his departure from the Young Vic in June.

Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, who founded the organisation Artistic Directors of the Future, which works to empower artistic directors from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, believes the appointment plays a “significant role” in redressing the imbalance in theatre leadership.

She said: “This new and exciting appointment will have a lasting impression on the many aspiring culturally diverse UK leaders who will witness, for the first time, a celebrated and much-loved black playwright-director step into the executive position at one the UK’s leading establishments located in the heart of London.

“The move from Baltimore, USA, back to London reaffirms the progress that is starting to happen in the UK to acknowledge culturally diverse UK-grown talent and leaders and thus, this appointment plays a significant role to redress the balance of diverse representation in theatre leadership and beyond.”

She added: “No longer will culturally diverse leaders struggle to name a black British artistic leader who runs a major theatre in London’s theatre district.”

Others to applaud the appointment included actor Danny Lee Wynter and Tamasha Theatre company, which presents work by diverse artists.

The Donmar Warehouse’s artistic director Josie Rourke tweeted that it was “one of the happiest announcements ever”, while set designer Tom Scutt shared an image of staff at the London venue clapping Kwei-Armah, as he arrived for rehearsals for a production of Henrik Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea.

Producer Tobi Kyeremateng said the appointment would “shake up British theatre”, while actor and director Samuel West added that it was “wonderful news”.

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