Mark Shenton: 6 potential successors to David Lan at the Young Vic

Emma Rice at Shakespeare's Globe, London Emma Rice at Shakespeare's Globe, London. Photo: Sarah Lee
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At the start of the week, David Lan announced his intention to step down from the helm of the Young Vic that he has run since the beginning of this century: a 17-year tenure that, as I wrote here, saw him running the theatre “like a laboratory for experiment and change” and in which he “has been an inspiring and inspirational artistic director, turning the Young Vic into one of the UK’s most consistently interesting theatres and cementing its position within world theatre”.

He will be a tough act to follow, but speculation is already rife as to who is likely to be in the running. Here are half a dozen names of those I think will be likely contenders.

1. Joe Hill-Gibbins

The ‘inside’ candidate, much as Rufus Norris was at the National Theatre to succeed Nick Hytner, is surely Hill-Gibbins. Currently an artistic associate at the theatre, he was Genesis Fellow there between 2010 and 2012. His Young Vic directorial credits include The Changeling (first seen in the Maria studio, it subsequently transferred to the main house), The Glass Menagerie, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Measure for Measure and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

2. Carrie Cracknell

Another homegrown talent, Cracknell was co-artistic director of the Gate Theatre and has previously been an associate director at the Young Vic, where she was also a Genesis Fellow. Her directorial credits at the theatre include Electra (2010), A Doll’s House (in 2012, with Hattie Morahan, which transferred to the West End), and Macbeth (in 2015, co-directed with Lucy Guerin and co-produced with Birmingham Rep and Manchester’s Home). She has also directed at the Almeida (Oil) and National (The Deep Blue Sea); an appointment to run a major theatre is not far off.

3. Tom Morris

The former artistic director of Battersea Arts Centre and currently Bristol Old Vic, Morris is already something of a fixture at the Young Vic: when he’s in London, he can be found most days in the restaurant bar, where he even has a plaque with his name above a window table. Should he be planning a full-time return to London theatre, the Young Vic would seem a natural home.

4. Simon Stone

There’s a chance the board might look internationally. The Swiss-born, Australian-raised director Simon Stone has been a resident director at Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre, from where his 2011 production of The Wild Duck transferred to London’s Barbican in 2014. Last year, he made his debut originating a production in the UK with his searing, modern version of Yerma, which won Billie Piper this year’s Olivier and Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards for best actress. It will be reprised at the Young Vic this year from July 26 to August 30; if anything is a calling card for him to relocate to Britain full-time, it is this. Perhaps he will be in the running to take over here.

5. Emma Rice

After the debacle of her all-too-brief tenure at Shakespeare’s Globe just down the river from the Young Vic, Rice could be looking for a new artistic home; with the massive amounts of goodwill behind her, perhaps the Young Vic could provide it.

6. Richard Jones

This may be a bit of a wild card, since the eclectic and inspirational theatre and opera director Richard Jones has hitherto shown no signs of wanting to settle down at one venue. But the Young Vic has very much become his theatrical home during Lan’s tenure, where his shows have included Six Characters Looking for an Author, Hobson’s Choice, The Good Person of Szechuan, The Government Inspector, Annie Get Your Gun, Public Enemy (a re-titled version of Ibsen’s Enemy of the People) and The Trial.