Dominic Cooke to Step Down from London's Royal Court; Executive Director Kate Horton Also Departing

By Mark Shenton
19 Dec 2011

Dominic Cooke
Dominic Cooke

Dominic Cooke has announced his intention to step down as artistic director of the Royal Court, which he has run for the last seven years, in April 2013. His executive director, Kate Horton, is also to depart in spring 2012, to join the National Theatre as deputy executive director, alongside executive director Nick Starr.

Cooke, who still has two further seasons to announce, will next direct David Eldridge's In Basildon at the theatre in February. Since joining the Royal Court, the theatre has received over 189 award nominations and 56 wins including the 2010 Stage Award for Theatre of the Year plus three Olivier Awards in 2011.

In a press statement he said, "In January 2013 it will be seven years since I was appointed Artistic Director of the  Royal Court. This follows eight years as full time Associate Director at the Court and the RSC. After nearly 15 years on the management of two extraordinary companies, and with my trusted colleague Kate Horton moving on to an exciting new role at the National, it feels like the right point to begin the process of handing over to a new Artistic Director. In the spring of 2013, I will move on from the Court to focus on freelance work."

He continued, "My time with Kate at the Court has been a thrilling adventure. Through the theatre's burgeoning writers' groups, we’ve brought a new generation of playwrights to the stage, including many young women. We've given main stage debuts to writers who had exclusively been produced in smaller spaces. We’ve produced many more experienced writers, allowing them to develop and flourish. Box office receipts and fundraising are at an all time high. We've launched Theatre Local, enabling many people to see a play for the first time. We've transferred and produced our own work in the West End and on Broadway, which has ensured the company's financial security in troubling economic times. We have a committed and talented staff team who are at the top of their game. Much of this is due to Kate Horton, whose tenacity, managerial skill and wisdom have been an inspiration. On behalf of all the Royal Court staff I wish her all the best in her new role, in which I am sure she will excel."



He also  said, "My focus now will be on the next 15 months of programming for the Court. Having just announced nine new plays for the first six months of 2012 I'll be planning the next two seasons, which we will announce in due course, and will include some exciting surprises.  By the time I leave Sloane Square, I will have produced around 100 new plays. There are many people who have given their talent, passion and hard work to make that work happen and I am hugely grateful to all of them."

Horton added, "I am thrilled to be joining Nick Hytner, Nick Starr and Lisa Burger at the National Theatre. This is an irresistible chance for me to work with the brilliant team leading one of our most vital cultural organisations. To work alongside Dominic Cooke at the Royal Court has been a privilege and a true joy. I couldn't admire or value him more highly as a Director, Chief Executive or friend. It has been an honour to work with him in leading an extraordinary Royal Court team in delivering Dominic’s programme, in Sloane Square, Elephant and Castle, the West End and Broadway and I have also relished working with some of our most exciting writers, actors and artists. I am grateful for the continual support I have had from the Board and in particular Anthony Burton. I know that I leave a thriving organisation in very capable hands and will always cherish my time at the greatest new writing house in the world."

Burton, chairman of the board, commented, "Under Dominic and Kate's leadership the Royal Court 's reputation has been consolidated and enhanced, they have ensured that the Court keeps true to the vision of enabling writers to develop and produce new work of artistic excellence.  The body of work produced in Sloane Square, out of London , in particular the great success of Theatre Local, and abroad has been astonishing and we are immensely proud of their dazzling achievements.  The Court is now an international powerhouse which provides a fantastic platform for the next Artistic Director and Executive Director."

The board will commence the search for the next artistic director in early 2012.