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York Theatre Royal’s Damian Cruden steps down after 22 years to run pop-up Shakespeare venue

Damian Cruden
by -

Damian Cruden is to step down as artistic director of York Theatre Royal after 22 years.

He is leaving to take up the role of artistic director of pop-up venue Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, which played a season in York last year and will return to the city this summer. In addition, there are plans for a second pop-up venue at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Cruden’s final production for York Theatre Royal will be co-directing the summer show Swallows and Amazons.

As well as leading the Shakespeare Rose Theatre projects in York and Oxfordshire, Cruden said he was “looking forward to spending more time with his family”.

He added: “I am proud of our achievements over the years. Had we only managed to keep the theatre open that in itself would have been a miracle; however, we have done so much more and we did it as a team.

“I won’t be a stranger and look forward to sharing with the York community many hours of fun in our beautiful auditorium, which I have loved since I set foot in it for the first time all those years ago. The room is special. It always has been and always will. We are a lucky city to have such a fantastic space.”

During his time at the venue, Cruden has established a youth theatre, opened a studio space and developed international partnerships in Germany, Canada and Japan. He also directed The Railway Children, which went on to have a four-year run in London.

The Railway Children

Cruden also oversaw a major refurbishment of the theatre.

York Theatre Royal executive director Tom Bird described his achievements as “staggering and unprecedented”.

“He has created the most wonderful work with the York community for over twenty years, both in the theatre and around the city and the world. We wish him all the best for his future with Shakespeare’s Rose and beyond,” he added.

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