Rebecca Atkinson-Lord and Rachel Briscoe have today, Monday 16th November 2015, announced that they are to leave their roles as Co-Directors of Theatre at Ovalhouse, with the Autumn 2015 season being their last at the South London venue. The news signifies the departure of the last remaining women of their generation working at Artistic Director level within the subsidised fringe theatre scene in London.
The joint Artistic Directors now plan to focus their energies on their respective theatre companies: Rebecca Atkinson-Lord as founding director of Arch 468 and Rachel Briscoe as co-director of fanSHEN. During their tenure at Ovalhouse, Rachel and Rebecca drove the overhaul of the venue’s brand, managing the rise of its profile and rejuvenating the artistic programme with a new Artistic Policy. They doubled audience numbers and worked with emergent companies to fundraise more than £1.3 million as well as co-producing 80 new pieces of theatre and directly commissioning 40 new pieces of theatre from artists such as Chris Goode, Grey Wohead, Christopher Brett Bailey, Mars.tarrab, Ira Brand and Selina Thompson amongst their achievements in post. Earlier this year, the co-directors also hosted a national sector-leading symposium on Artist Development.
Rebecca Atkinson-Lord said: “Leading the theatre programme at Ovalhouse over the last five years has been an incredibly rewarding experience for us both. We’ve been privileged to work with some of the most innovative and exciting artists of our generation and it has been a joy to create a place where we can re-imagine the possibilities of what theatre and performance can be.”
Rachel Briscoe said: “Job-sharing at Ovalhouse meant that we continued to work as independent artists throughout our tenure; being able to see the venue-artist relationship from both sides was useful and important. Now it’s time for both of us to spend a little more time being artists and a little less time being a venue.”
Rebecca Atkinson-Lord and Rachel Briscoe will be involved in a number of projects following their departure from Ovalhouse. Following the success of Cuddles in New York, Rebecca will work on a series of transatlantic projects in 2016/2017. Rebecca Atkinson-Lord will work on a new commission from her long-term collaborator playwright Joshua Conkel and plans to focus her UK based work in regional and touring theatre. She will work with Birmingham REP to co-produce Amahra Spence’s Abuelo, before directing the national tour of Zoe Cooper’s Learning How to Swim for Arch 468.
Rachel will continue her work with fanSHEN including Lists for the End of the World, a co-commission from Live Theatre and ARC Stockton; iteration 2 of Invisible Treasure, using the space and tools her company has to create experiences for young people with ASC (Autism Spectrum Condition) and PMLD (Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities). She also plans to create an app from fanSHEN’s 2015 publication an apple a day – acts of noticing, and spend more time working as a Feldenkrais practitioner.