After 20 years as Artistic Director of the Theatre Royal Plymouth, Simon Stokes is leaving Plymouth to explore new strands of artistic challenge and opportunity.
During his time here Simon has contributed to an immense period of change – at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, in the City of Plymouth itself and in the wider national theatre ecology.
From the start Simon brought to Plymouth a special expertise beginning to mark the Theatre Royal Plymouth out as a major national and international producer of contemporary plays, both written and devised, in a programme which has now developed for Plymouth an international reputation and won more than 20 major national theatre awards.
As a longstanding Director of the Dance Consortium he has been influential in selecting and inviting to the south west new and very exciting large-scale international dance companies to wide and enthusiastic audiences, giving a further dimension to the programme of the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
He has also been a champion of the Theatre Royal’s Education, Creative Learning and Engagement ambitions, taking early responsibility for what is now a star department. He provided senior management representation for this work, placing community relationships at the very centre of the Theatre’s focus. The Theatre Royal Plymouth’s work in this area has become indispensable locally and a pioneer nationally.
Throughout this time Simon has been a strong ambassador for the City of Plymouth, the work of its Theatre and its engagement with schools and its many other communities. In 2014 Simon was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree by the University of Plymouth for his ‘contribution to the artistic and cultural well-being of the city and the wider region.’
Simon Stokes, Artistic Director, said: “It is with great sadness that I leave colleagues in Plymouth, where we have created together something very unusual – introducing generations of very talented writers, directors, actors, producers and other collaborators to our audiences, collectively reflecting the UK’s changing world and demographic and proving that the ‘remote’ and slightly forgotten far south west can also be a huge engine for national creativity. Having used, in my time, the same methodologies in London at the Bush Theatre and in the West End, there is a great satisfaction in having been able to put them to service in a region, with much fewer resources and opportunities, over a sustained period of time.
It has been a privilege, throughout these years as a creative leader in Plymouth, to work alongside Adrian Vinken, TRP’s exceptional and totemic Chief Executive. The Theatre Royal’s widely varied programme, constructed with deliberation to serve all constituencies, is an inspiration and a delight for all the region. When casting, I am often told by young actors that their enthusiasm for theatre was kindled by this play in Plymouth’s Drum or that show in the Lyric or, sometimes, their early membership of our thriving Young Company.
I will always be a huge and heartfelt advocate for the Theatre Royal Plymouth and its vital work. And I wish my tireless and talented colleagues at the Theatre and my inspirational and convivial theatrical collaborators everywhere every continued success in the future.”
Nick Buckland OBE Chairman said: “During his long service with TRP Simon has helped the theatre build an enviable national reputation for the remarkable breadth and quality of its overall programme and, in particular, for its distinctive contribution to new writing in theatre in the UK. It is a proud legacy which the theatre is determined to sustain and build on in the future.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees I thank Simon for all he has done for us and wish Simon every success in this next phase of his professional career.”