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In London’s (Off) West End 2019: Deborah Bestwick to step down as director of Ovalhouse

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Photo Credit: Jon Spaull

LONDON – As construction work forges ahead for the new theatre in Brixton, Deborah Bestwick, Director of Ovalhouse for over 20 years, announces the next building block in the transition for the organisation. 

Says Bestwick: “We are building a fantastic new theatre, designed to support Ovalhouse to do what it has always done best: welcome the widest range of audiences to see the best of new theatre, created by artists who are telling the stories that need to be told. Ovalhouse has supported divergent voices over decades, picking at the fault lines of our society, creating new ways to surprise, provoke and enthral us. Just as we constantly re-invent theatre, I always intended to make space for a new Director to develop new visions for the theatre in Brixton – it is part of the DNA of Ovalhouse.”

It is no accident that this announcement comes during the organisation’s (literally) ground-breaking season, The Demolition Party. Artists were commissioned to make shows that boldly left their mark and were encouraged to make permanent changes to the building, taking apart the much-loved old theatre. 

Adds Bestwick: “Just as The Demolition Party is an intentional process to deconstruct our old building as our new home arises in Brixton, so is the succession policy of the leadership of Ovalhouse a move towards a new generation. We want a new Artistic Director to have a long lead in, get to know the building and its community and potential before we open the doors.  My time at Ovalhouse has been a privilege and a pleasure. So many new artists have brought their work here and are now lighting up the theatre world with their talent and skill. However, building a new theatre is also a hard slog of a job. Whilst a new Artistic Director looks to the future, I will continue to support the company in a different capacity, looking after the practicalities of getting that job finished.

On Tuesday 22nd October 2019, the recruitment search for a new Artistic Director has been launched. With the organisation planned to relocate to their new home in December 2020 and their opening season following in early Spring 2021 this is an exciting time for change. Ovalhouse is looking for an Artistic Director who has leadership experience within the arts, has the tenacity to curate projects that give voice and support new artists – young, community, and professional alike. 

As Ovalhouse celebrates its final season in its building in Oval Kennington, Bestwick urges audiences and artists who have been a part of Ovalhouse’s journey to come and witness the changes to the building this season. Join the mailing list and stay connected for the innovative work coming up in 2020 and be first on the list for opening events in 2021.

Ovalhouse’s Demolition Party Season runs from 26th September to 14th December 2019 at 52-54 Kennington Oval, London SE11 5SW. Tickets and full programme lineup available here

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