Ovalhouse Theatre will change its name to Brixton House when it moves premises next year, with Gbolahan Obisesan announced as its new artistic director.
Obisesan, a former associate director at the Young Vic, will take over the reins next month ahead of the theatre’s relaunch as Brixton House.
He succeeds Deborah Bestwick, who announced last year she would be stepping down from the organisation after 20 years in order to facilitate a “new generation” of leadership.
The theatre is in the process of moving its home from Kennington in south London to neighbouring Brixton. When it opens in spring 2021, its new building will comprise two theatre spaces, rehearsal facilities, meeting rooms and a café and bar.
Obisesan, whose directing credits include Cuttin’ It, was the Young Vic’s genesis fellow associate director for two years. He said: “Ovalhouse has a long-noted artistic legacy. It has been an unsung hero of supporting exciting theatremakers. It is now relocating to the heart of Brixton to build on its community outlook and artistic inventiveness. The history of Brixton is proudly political, and its rich blend of cultures will inspire the new theatre to be a cradle for startling stories and extraordinary art.”
Obisesan takes over as artistic director in April and will work on an off-site programme of work in the year preceding the new theatre’s opening.
He said his team would aim to be “forward thinking, community focused and rebelliously outspoken”, adding that he was “very excited” by the theatre’s mission.
David Bryan, the theatre’s chair, said: “The appointment of Gbolahan and the creation of Brixton House are life changing events. Brixton House will be a significant vibrant cultural focus with a grounding in relevant theatre.
“Ovalhouse had 55 years of presenting innovative experimental theatre and providing opportunities for young people. Brixton in 2020 will be the start of future decades of creativity, inclusion and a space for diverse talent to be seen as part of the area’s and London’s vitality’.”