Story by Jack Foley
NEIL Bartlett has resigned as artistic director of the Lyric
Hammersmith, following ten successful years in the position.
Bartlett will stand down at the end of November, following the
run of his new adaptation of Molieres Don Juan, which opens
at the beginning of October.
However, his decision has not been taken on health grounds (he
was forced to withdraw from his role as artistic director, in
1999, to undergo a liver transplant), but rather to pursue more
of his own work, as both writer and director.
In a statement issued to coincide with the announcement, Bartlett
said: "Given my illness in 1999, people may understandably
assume that my decision to leave the Lyric is again connected
with my health.
"But this is absolutely not the case. After ten years running
a building, the fact is that I now wish to concentrate on my own
work as a director and writer.
"My immediate plans include a new translation of Genets
The Maids for BBC Radio Three, a staging of Marlowes Dido,
Queen of Carthage for the American Repertory Theatre, in Boston,
and the completion of my new novel.
"This has been an immensely difficult decision to make and
I am enormously proud of what Simon Mellor and I have created
at the Lyric.
"When I took this job, the Lyric was weeks away from closing
its doors. Now it is thriving, This, then, seems as good a time
as any to hand over the reins of this extraordinary theatre to
During his decade as artistic director, Bartlett has directed
21 shows, many of which he also adapted and/or designed.
Since his return from ill health in 2001, successful productions
have include the Olivier-nominated Pericles, as well as Camille
and The Servant. He was even made an OBE in 2000, for services
And his successes were not restricted to productions, as he also
helped to enhance the theatres reputation as an important
London receiving house for visiting companies and artists, such
as Tamasha Theatre, Kneehigh Theatre, Frantic Assembly, and Shared
News of Bartletts resignation will come as a blow to the
Lyric hierarchy, who will now begin the difficult task of replacing
A measure of the high-esteem with which he is held is evident
in the tribute paid to him by Sandy Orr, chairman of the theatre,
who said: "Anyone who has seen productions like Pericles
and Oliver Twist will recognise that Neil Bartlett is in the very
top flight of theatre directors currently working in this country.
"As a writer, director and designer, Neil is a genuinely
original voice in British theatre. The Lyric has been immensely
fortunate in having someone of his talents creating shows here
and his ten years at the helm have been an enormously rich time
artistically for the Lyric.
"We are very sad to see him leave and wish him all good
fortune for the future."
The recruitment process for Bartletts successor has already
begun in earnest.