The Shakespeare Theatre Company has ended its nearly year-long hunt for Artistic Director Michael Kahn’s successor with the appointment of London’s National Theatre Associate Director Simon Godwin, the company announced yesterday.
Godwin’s appointment will be effective in August of 2019, but the company asserts that he will be working on STC’s 2019-2020 season with existing staff prior to his appointment. In the meantime, he will be producing Anthony and Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okenedo for the National later this month and taking on the always-difficult Timon of Athens with a woman, Kathryn Hunter, in the title role for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Next year, he will be directing a Japanese cast in Hamlet for Tokyo’s Theatre Cocoon.
Godwin is familiar to Washington audiences for his direction of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s touring production of Hamlet, which arrived in Washington’s Kennedy Center earlier this year. Of that production, DCTS’ Chris Henley said, “Simon Godwin, the play’s young British director, explores this oft-produced work with care and insight. He employs a mostly black cast and infuses the design with colors and sounds that suggest, at various times, Africa and the Caribbean. (By the time Hamlet and Laertes square off bare-chested in the climactic duel, comparisons to the recent film Black Panther may have come to mind.)”
Prior to his work with the National, Godwin served as Associate Director of the Bristol Old Vic, Associate Director of The Royal Court, and Associate Director of the Royal and Derngate Theatres in Northampton. He founded Stray Dogs Theatre Company, whose production of Eurydice was transferred to Whitehall Theatre in London’s West End, making Stray Dogs one of the youngest companies to stage a West End production. In 2012, Godwin won the Evening Standard/Burberry Award for an Emerging Director.
Godwin succeeds a national legend in Kahn, whose 32-year tenure as Artistic Director will end in slightly less than a year. Under Kahn’s direction, STC moved from its original home in the Folger Theatre into new quarters at the Lansburgh and, eventually, Harman Hall as well. STC won a Tony Award for Regional Theater in 2012 and Kahn himself is in the American Theater Hall of Fame. Of Godwin, Kahn says, “He has some wonderful ideas and I’m looking forward to supporting him in any way I can to help him achieve his vision.”
Godwin proposes to build on Kahn’s success. “Michael Kahn has built a strong legacy by creating one of the leading classical theatres in America and transforming the arts scene in Washington, D.C. I look forward to building on his enormous success by continuing to create high quality, exciting, inclusive and diverse theatre that welcomes all audiences.”
Godwin’s youth appears to be a point in his favor for the search committee. “Simon is widely regarded as a star of the next generation of artistic leadership,” said the company’s Board Chairman Michael Klein. “He was chosen…from a broadly diverse pool of candidates, because of his artistic excellence and proven ability to conceptualize and curate bold, energetic and innovative theatre.”
Godwin has not given any indication that he will change STC’s programming, which in addition to its theater season includes a broad educational program and its annual free production.
You must be logged in to post a comment.