Brown has already run a theatre — he was Artistic Director of Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre from 1988-1996. During his time there, he was responsible for building two new performance areas and attracting a larger and more diverse audience into the theatre. In recognition of his artistic as well as administrative success, he was given an International Theatre Institute Award for Excellence and also received a Peter Brook Award.
He joined the West Yorkshire Playhouse as Associate Director in 2001 and has directed six productions there, including a sell-out tour of Alan Bennett's The Lady In The Van. His interest in promoting new writers — which is shared, after all, by the great majority of artistic directors around the country — has resulted in his appointing a Literary Manager.
Ian Brown's plans for the future of the Playhouse include directing a new production of Hamlet, starring Christopher Eccleston. One of Britain's most interesting television actors as well as an accomplished stage performer, Eccleston is noted for a brooding quality that will be ideally suited to the gloomy Prince of Denmark.
Brown's appointment is the latest in a string of major theatrical directorships — the National, the Almeida, the Hampstead, the Old Vic and the Donmar have also changed or are to change their artistic directors — and under his leadership, the West Yorkshire Playhouse is likely to continue to be one of the most important and exciting theatres outside the West End.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow