Live Theatre appoints new artistic director

Peter Lathan

Newcastle’s Live Theatre has announced the appointment of a new artistic director.

Joe Douglas will take over from Max Roberts in April 2018. Currently a freelance theatre director, Douglas trained in directing at Rose Bruford College and became a trainee director at the National Theatre of Scotland. He has directed plays for NTS and for Dundee Rep, where he was Associate Artistic Director. He has also directed productions that have toured extensively across Scotland and is Co-Artistic Director of new writing, touring company Utter.

His highly acclaimed new production of John McGrath’s The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil for Dundee Rep also went on a sell-out Scottish tour in 2016. His production of Death of a Salesman won three awards (Best Actor, Best Production and Best Ensemble) at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) 2017. He has also won four Fringe First awards at the Edinburgh Fringe.

At Dundee Rep, he directed George’s Marvellous Medicine, The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, Spoiling and The BFG.

Other work as director or co-director includes The Arabian Nights (Lyceum), The Red Shed (Mark Thomas), Stand By (Utter), Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery (Lung Ha / Grid Iron), My Friend Selma (Terra Incognita), Letters Home—Details (Grid Iron / Edinburgh International Book Festival), Bloody Trams (Traverse / Utter), Dear Scotland, The Last Polar Bears, Our Teacher’s A Troll, Allotment (National Theatre of Scotland), Our House (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and numerous productions for Youth Music Theatre and A Play, A Pie & A Pint. He was Associate Director on three international tours of Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland).

He has won four Fringe First awards for Educating Ronnie (2012), Letters Home (2014), The Red Shed (2016) and Stand By (2017).

"I have long admired Live Theatre—the reputation is mighty,” Joe Douglas said. “Artistically and politically, I think we will fit each other well. New writing is at the heart of my work and I look forward to connecting with audiences and artists in Newcastle and the wider region. I hope to build from the extraordinary legacy of Max Roberts and the exceptional writers that he has championed over so many years.

“I enjoy making work with and for young people, so the opportunity to help craft the Live Tales programmes is inspiring. I just want folk to take their eyes off screens, pull a chair up in our theatre and experience a story that will change them a bit.

“I can't wait to get stuck in at Live Theatre and make the most scintillating new plays we possibly can.”

Jim Beirne, Chief Executive Live Theatre said, “we are absolutely delighted at Joe Douglas’s appointment as Live Theatre’s new Artistic Director. He currently has a five-star reviewed show at the Lyceum in Edinburgh and has been a recipient of multiple awards at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He will lead on Live Theatre’s artistic programme from April 2018, with Emeritus Director and Visiting Professor at Sunderland University Max Roberts.”