According to an article in the London Times, Stephen Daldry will step down as artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre at the end of his contractual term there, in October 1998.
The 37-year-old director, dubbed a wunderkind after his expressionistic An Inspector Calls came to Broadway, began at the Royal Court in 1991 and fully took the reins in 1993. There he nurtured such young writers as Jez Butterworth, Joe Penhall and Martin McDonagh. (The London Times called the style developed there "Theatre of Urban Ennui").
In a press statement, Daldry wrote, "By the time I leave, I will have been at the Royal Court for six and a half years, and it is time to make way for a new Director. The Court is in good financial shape with one of the best production, artistic and managerial teams around."
Daldry brought a higher profile to the Royal Court -- and with it, financing. The theatre received 16 million pounds from the national lottery in 1995 and used it to completely rebuild the Royal Court building while the theatre moved to temporary houses on the West End -- The Duke Of York and the Ambassadors. "It's been a stressful and testing time for everyone here," said press manager Anne Mayer. "At the moment we have three theatre spaces to fill instead of two, and while other theatres that won the lottery ended up firing staff, Stephen nearly doubled his staff. But he's been so taken up with the architecture of the Royal Court, which is very time-consuming, he hasn't had as much time as he'd like to program the plays."
The interim plan has been to mount classics at the Duke Of York and smaller plays in two playhouses in the Ambassador Theatre, including the world premiere of Harold Pinter's Ashes To Ashes. The new Royal Court should be ready by Sept./Oct. 1998 -- just when Daldry finishes his term. Daldry announced his intentions to leave a year-and-a-half in advance so there'd be time to find a replacement -- and give that person a year to co-run the organization with Daldry. "Stephen has pledged to stay through the end of his term and see us back into our building on Sloane Square," Mayer told Playbill On-Line. As for finding a replacement, "We'll be advertising in the Guardian next week."
Plays staged by Daldry at the Royal Court include Arnold Wesker's The Kitchen, Howard Korder's The Certain Story, Meredith Oakes' The Editing Process, and Ron Hutchinson's Rat In The Skull. Currently running is Ayub Khan-Bin's East Is East, and the summer will see a trilogy of works by the aforementioned McDonagh.
--By David Lefkowitz