Joe Douglas to leave Live

Published: 26 August 2020
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Joe Douglas

Artistic Director Joe Douglas is to leave Newcastle’s Live Theatre in mid-November for “personal and family reasons.”

He had been aiming to work on two new productions, Children of the Night and A Very British Coup, over the summer but these projects have been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic for at least a year and this, combined with the fact that he has a young family and his close family ties are all in Scotland, has made him decide that it is time for him to move back.

“It has been a massive privilege to be Artistic Director of Live Theatre over the past two and a half years,” he said. “Newcastle is an incredible city—there is a community of artists and audiences in the North East that have blown me away at times. Live Theatre will continue championing and supporting new artists for many years to come and I am proud to have played a part in that story. I have come to this decision entirely for personal and family reasons that have come into focus over the past few months. I wish my friends and colleagues at Live Theatre and across the region the very best for the future.”

“I am saddened by this news as Joe has been a great asset to the Live Theatre family, bringing enthusiasm, creativity and a wealth of directorial experience to the role,” said Jim Beirne, Chief Executive of Live Theatre. “I think this decision is the right one for him and his family. Myself and the team at Live Theatre send him all of our good wishes.”

He joined Live in May 2018. His first production for Live, Clear White Light in November 2018, was voted one of the Guardian readers’ top theatre shows of 2018. In June 2019, his hit revival of the iconic Scottish play, The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil was critically acclaimed, with Live hosting the only English performances of the tour.

Live Theatre announced in February that it was seeking to recruit a new Chief Executive in 2020 with the news that Jim Beirne would be standing down. However, COVID-19 brought the recruitment process to a halt and Beirne agreed to stay on. Now, with lockdown easing, the recruitment is to restart with a view to a new Chief Executive being in place from spring 2021. It seems prudent to involve the incoming Chief Executive in the recruitment of a new Artistic Director, so this will get underway in late spring 2021.