Thursday 12 December 2019

First female duo to run London theatre announce departure

Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham have been responsible for a number of high-profile productions during their tenure.

First all-female London theatre team announces exit from Donmar Warehouse (Donmar Warehouse/PA)
First all-female London theatre team announces exit from Donmar Warehouse (Donmar Warehouse/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

The first female partnership team to run a London theatre have announced their departure from the Donmar Warehouse.

Josie Rourke became the venue’s artistic director in 2012, along with Kate Pakenham as executive producer.

Rourke will end her tenure in 2019 ahead of Pakenham, who will depart in June this year.

During the pair’s time at the helm of the not-for-profit theatre, they have overseen productions including The Vote, which starred Dame Judi Dench, Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston and an all-female Shakespeare Trilogy directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

Rourke and Pakenham won an Olivier Award for Rourke’s revival of musical City of Angels in 2014, and in 2016 they doubled the Donmar Warehouse’s roster by introducing plays in its Covent Garden venue as well as in King’s Cross and New York.

The Donmar Warehouse said that, during their leadership, half of the directors and actors involved in its productions have been women.

Rourke said: “Leading the Donmar is one of the great privileges of London theatre, and doing so in partnership with Kate Pakenham has been one of the great joys.

“I am so grateful for the chance to have brought new plays, new audiences and new talent to its stage.

“After 12 years as an artistic director, here and at the Bush Theatre, I’ve been lucky to open two new theatre buildings, and work with some of the most significant voices of my generation.

“I was proud to be the first woman director to run a major London theatre, but I’m even prouder that the landscape has now changed beyond recognition, and forever.”


Rourke, who is currently working on her first film Mary Queen of Scots starring Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan, added: “It will be a year before I say my final goodbye and I look forward to celebrating all that is great about the Donmar and its artists over the next 12 months before pursuing my next creative challenges.”

Pakenham added: “The last six years working with Josie and the Donmar’s brilliant team have been hugely inspiring, and a great honour.

“I have immense gratitude and respect for the many incredible artists I’ve had the opportunity to work with to realise such a range of productions.”

She said she is “so grateful” to those who have supported the theatre, and the “generosity” of partners who “made all of the work possible”.


Pakenham added: “I’m confident that I’m leaving the Donmar in a strong position to support its next exciting period of growth, and will always be an avid supporter of this very special London theatre.”

John Browne, chairman of Donmar Warehouse projects, said the duo “leave the Donmar in a strong position for the future”.

He added that recruitment of a new artistic director is under way.

PA Media

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top