Lyric Hammersmith welcomes new director as Bush Theatre says goodbye

The Lyric Hammersmith has announced that Rachel O’Riordan will be the theatre’s new artistic director and joint chief executive. She will join the theatre in Lyric Square from February next year.

She takes over from Sean Holmes, who is stepping down in October after almost a decade leading the vibrant theatre’s programming.

Image caption: Outgoing Lyric Hammersmith artistic director Sean Holmes

The upcoming season has already been planned by Sean and the team and will begin on 5 October, following a three-month makeover this summer that has seen the Lyric’s 550-seat Victorian auditorium refurbished, and its smaller studio theatre modernised.

Joining the Lyric from her role as artistic director and chief executive of Sherman Theatre, in Cardiff, Rachel said she was thrilled to join ‘one of the most exciting theatres in London’.

“The Lyric Hammersmith occupies a special place in the theatre ecology; egalitarian, open and bold,” she explained. “I am looking forward to continuing the theatre's journey and leading a new phase.”

Lyric Hammersmith receives financial support from Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

Values and passion

Rachel will join Sian Alexander, the Lyric’s executive director and joint chief executive since October 2015, to co-lead the theatre.

After she begins at the Lyric, Rachel’s first full season as artistic director will launch on autumn 2019.

Sian said: “Rachel brings with her a wealth of brilliant experience as a leader and a director. She is an inspiring creative producer.

“She shares our values and passion for developing talent, creating opportunities for young people and working to ensure the theatre is at the heart of its local community. I’m hugely excited for the future of the Lyric under our joint leadership.”

The Lyric recently appointed four new trustees to its board, who will work with the theatre on its strategy and planning over the next three years.

All change

Image caption: Lauren Clancy (left) and Madani Younis outside the Bush Theatre in Shepherds Bush

Meanwhile, there are other changes in H&F’s theatreland as the Bush Theatre’s artistic director and chief executive Madani Younis will leave to become creative director of the Southbank Centre in January 2019.

Madani led phase two of the company’s £4.3m capital redevelopment project in 2016 – giving it an overhaul including a flexible 190-seat theatre, a second performance space, a rehearsal studio, a café bar, and a newly developed terrace garden.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council also financially supports Bush Theatre.

“My time at the Bush Theatre is undoubtedly one of my proudest achievements to date,” he said. “The Bush invested in a vision that celebrated not just the best of theatre but the best of our country’s inherent culture.

“The result was a more reflective community of artists and a breadth of new audiences that represent the diversity of the city around us. None of what we’ve achieved would have happened without the deep, thoughtful commitment of so many.”

Associate director Omar Elerian will also depart the Bush Theatre following his production of Going Through in spring 2019, and a successor is set to be recruited in the new year.

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