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Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham to leave the Donmar Warehouse

Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
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Donmar Warehouse artistic director Josie Rourke is to step down from the role in 2019 after eight years, with executive producer Kate Pakenham leaving in June this year.

The team were the first female partnership to run a London theatre.

Rourke’s final production at the Donmar will be in the first half of 2019. She was appointed in 2011 and joined the theatre early in 2012.

She said: “Leading the Donmar is one of the great privileges of London theatre, and doing so in partnership with Kate Pakenham has been one of the great joys. I am so grateful for the chance to have brought new plays, new audiences and new talent to its stage. After 12 years as an artistic director, here and at the Bush Theatre, I’ve been lucky to open two new theatre buildings, and work with some of the most significant voices of my generation.”

She added that she was “proud to be the first woman director to run a major London theatre” and added: “But I’m even prouder that the landscape has now changed beyond recognition, and forever.”

Rourke said she would be “celebrating all that is great about the Donmar and its artists over the next 12 months” before pursuing her “next creative challenges”.

Pakenham, who took up the post of executive producer in 2012, said she was “confident” the venue was being left in a “strong position to support its next period of growth”.

Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham: The new recruits

During their tenure at the theatre, Rourke and Pakenham have worked on productions including Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston and the all-female Shakespeare trilogy starring Harriet Walter, directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

The pair also received an Olivier award for City of Angels.

Other productions include The Weir and My Night with Reg, both of which transferred to the West End.

In addition, Rourke and Pakenham have introduced access schemes such as the Barclays Front Row initiative, offerings seats for £10, and Young and Free, offering people under 25 the chance to see Donmar shows for free.

The Donmar said the search for the next artistic director would begin later this year.

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