Guys, continued apologies for anyone waiting for the Brighton Fringe roundup. Next post, I promise. But before I can do that, a bit a surprise news I didn’t see coming at all: Chris Monks, Alan Ayckbourn’s successor as Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, is stepping down on the 11th December, falling just short of a seven year tenure. It’s a surprise because it’s a sharp contrast to his famous predecessor Alan Ayckbourn who was around for donkey’s years. Likewise for Max Roberts at Live Theatre.
The last time I heard an announcement of this nature was Simon Stallworthy’s sudden departure from the Gala Theatre in 2010 after five years. But that was pretty acrimonious affair after his cherished new writing programme got cut back very quickly. (For the record, I don’t miss the Gala’s new writing at all, but I still felt it was a bit off to cancel plays already programmed.) Chris Monks’s departure, however, is somewhat more mysterious. The main reason given is that the arrival of a new chief executive made it “the right time to step aside”. But with outgoing chief executive Stephen Wood also having been round for donkey’s years, that to me felt like another stage of moving on from the Ayckbourn era. Unless there’s a massive long-standing feud between Chris Monks and incoming chief executive Matthew Russell that none of us know about, it does seem a very unusual reason to choose to step down. Continue reading