Vicky Featherstone steps down as Artistic Director of Royal Court

The artistic director of the Royal Court, one of London’s most prestigious theatres, steps down after 10 years in charge.

Vicky Featherstone, who has nurtured hundreds of emerging and established writers in her time at Royal Court, will be leaving at the end of this year. Having set herself a 10-year time limit when she took office, she said it was time to “hand over stewardship of this extraordinary and enduring mission to someone else.”

Featherstone is the latest high-profile figure to leave a major theater in recent months. Last week, Michael Longhurst announced that he would step down as Art Director of Donmar Warehouse in 2024 after five years in the role.

In December, Roxana Silbert stepped down as artistic director of the Hampstead theater due to the financial constraints she faces following the Arts Council England’s decision not to renew her £766,455 annual grant.

In September, Daniel Evans said he would step down as artistic director of the Chichester Festival theater to join the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Featherstone said: “Being Artistic Director of Royal Court is one of the best jobs in the world – creating something over 10 years with the most dedicated, passionate and thoughtful people in every area of ​​the organisation, from stage gate to board and the givers: with the actors, other artists, and freelancers who give all of themselves to make incredible works happen, and of course, having the ultimate privilege of being in daily conversations with visionary and life-changing writers.

“I would do it forever if I could. And while I’m usually the last to leave the group, it’s time I hand over stewardship of this extraordinary and enduring mission to someone else.

“When I started this job in 2013, I set myself a 10-year time limit, and I’m sticking to it. There are no words to describe how challenging, invigorating and complex this job is, and like everyone who has played this role here, it will always be a part of my DNA.”

She said that she “didn’t have any concrete plans for what I’m going to do next. At the top of the list is making an appointment with the dentist. I’m basically releasing myself back into the wild.”

Featherstone will remain in his position until a new artistic director is named. He said he hoped the vacancy created by his departure would ignite “fires in the belly of those who can create the future of the theatre.”

When she was appointed artistic director in 2013, Featherstone launched Open Court, a six-week festival that included 133 performances and more than 40 new works.

Since then, the theater has supported more than 600 writers through its writer development programs and groups. Among those who have written plays during Featherstone’s tenure are Abi Morgan, Caryl Churchill, Gary Owen and Zinnie Harris.

Anthony Burton, Chairman of the Royal Court Theatre, said Featherstone was a “tireless leader of the Royal Court for 10 years, brilliantly navigating turbulent times and keeping the Court afloat for two years during Covid.

“She has been an innovator and advocate for many initiatives such as the ‘Me Too’ movement in theater. We are enormously grateful to Vicky for her invaluable and profound contribution to the Court’s work, well-being and financial stability.”

In 2018, he topped the Stage 100 list of the most influential people in the world of theater for his “courageous” and “enlightened” leadership in the face of allegations of harassment and abuse of power in the theater industry.

In 2021, the theater was embroiled in an anti-Semitism row after the main character in a play, a predatory billionaire, was given the name Hershel Fink, despite the fact that he was not Jewish. Accused of an anti-Semitic trope, the Royal Court admitted unconscious bias and apologized.

According to its website, the Royal Court receives less than half of its annual income from Arts Council England. The rest comes from ticket sales, business activities and fundraising.

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