New AD at Northern Stage announced

Published: 7 August 2020
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Natalie Ibu Credit: Mathieu Ajan

Northern Stage today announced the appointment of Natalie Ibu as their new Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive. Currently Artistic Director and Chief Executive of tiata fahodzi, she will take up the role in November 2020, succeeding Lorne Campbell, who joined National Theatre of Wales in March.

Natalie Ibu has been Artistic Director and Chief Executive of tiata fahodzi, the only black-led theatre company committed solely to producing new work in the UK, for the past 5 years. At tiata fahodzi, her stand-out piece of work was her direction of good dog by Arinzé Kene, which was produced in association with Watford Palace Theatre and Tara Finney Productions and toured nationally twice before being adapted for screen and shown on BBC iPlayer.

A version of good dog can be seen on YouTube.

Prior to joining tiata fahodzi, her career included time spent as Creative Producer at In Good Company at Derby Theatre, Programme Manager at The Roundhouse, Resident Assistant Director at The Royal Court and Assistant Director at Glasgow Citizens Theatre.

She is devoted to artist development and has a strong record in nurturing new talent, having been consortium lead of the Artistic Director Leadership Programme and a Trustee of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme.

She has a history of working with youth theatre and is passionate about working with local communities to ensure that work can be created in collaboration, to reflect the lived experience, hopes and ideas of the widest society.

She is a Fellow of the International Society of Performing Arts (ISPA).

Simon Elliott, Chair of Northern Stage’s Board, said, “the time the panel spent reviewing nearly 60 applications and meeting many candidates in interview showed us all the high quality of the sector, both nationally and regionally. Natalie emerged as the most compelling candidate from a high calibre field because we saw her as visionary, and we know that she understands and embraces the social responsibilities of theatre and is committed to developing talent. Her track record is excellent and with her creative leadership I am confident she will enable us to ensure Northern Stage can be the theatre the region needs now and in the years to come.

“Appointing an Artistic Director at this time is absolutely necessary. We have an obligation to all the communities of Newcastle and the North East to create, develop and curate the most exciting, engaging and relevant theatre, so that when audiences, staff, theatre makers and participants feel safe, we can be there. Natalie, working alongside Joint Chief Executive Kate Denby and with the entire team, will imagine and realise that future.

“And last but not least, I want to acknowledge the brilliant work by Kate, who has had to be our sole Chief Executive in this most challenging period, and the whole Northern Stage Staff and the freelance community we work with for all they have done in the last 5 months. I know that as Natalie takes up the role of Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive, she will work collaboratively to create the possibilities of a better tomorrow.”

“As a 17-year-old, black, Scottish, working-class girl,” Natalie Ibu said, “I decided I wanted to be an Artistic Director because I longed to work in community—with a team, with artists, with a place and with audiences. Northern Stage is exemplary at this with its commitment to its local and regional community—from Wednesday shared dinners with its neighbours in Byker to the way it shares its building with local artists through the Spare Room programme.

"I am looking forward to working with the people and places across Tyne and Wear and beyond—where grit joins charm, where a spectrum of celebrations meet at the weekend and where the global is becoming our local—to make loudly relevant work that feels essential to helping us understand who we are, who we’ll be and who we want to be. I know first-hand the game-changing impact a venue like Northern Stage can have on individuals—artists and audiences alike—and it’s an absolute privilege to join this organisation as it continues to emerge as a beacon in these complex times.”