PRESS RELEASE 02/06/16
Artistic Director Elizabeth Freestone announced today that she is to step down from her role at Pentabus Theatre Company at the end of the year.
Elizabeth joined Pentabus in 2011. Under her artistic leadership the last five years has seen the company produce 26 new plays, work with hundreds of artists, and tour to audiences of over 40,000 people across the UK. Elizabeth leaves to pursue a freelance directing career.
Elizabeth brought to the company a bold new vision for Pentabus to become the nation’s rural theatre company, creating new plays about the modern rural world for audiences nationwide. This increase in the company’s activity, profile and reach has led to a programme of powerful new work presented in theatres, village halls, fields and festivals. Under her direction the company has proved that the best new theatre is made in the countryside, with a canon of new plays informed by and made for rural audiences.
Elizabeth said: ‘It was always going to be difficult to leave Pentabus, with its incredible staff team, brilliant writers and amazing audiences. If ever there was a good time, now seems like the best possible moment – our production for farmers has just begun it’s tour of agricultural shows, our third generation of Young Writers are just about to open their new plays and we’ve got a brilliant few months ahead with work at the Ludlow Fringe, Hotbed, Latitude, High Tide and touring village halls across the country. I’m so proud of everything we’ve achieved here over the last five years. The company has great playwrights coming through, big plans for the future, a truly excellent team, robust financial support and dedicated, passionate audiences. It’s time for me to go off and explore freelance opportunities, and time for someone else to be lucky enough to come and run one of the best theatre companies in the country.’
Chair of the Board Ros Robins said: ‘Over the last five years Elizabeth has led Pentabus through an unprecedented period of growth in the company’s 40 year history. The amount of work we produce has tripled, our turnover doubled and our audience reach quadrupled. In 2012 Elizabeth established the Pentabus Studio at our farm base in Shropshire, a research and development programme for playwrights including three Channel 4 Bursary winning writers in residence. She’s set up a pioneering programme for Young Writers which continues to find and support a new generation of rural writers. And she’s inspired established playwrights, including Hattie Naylor, Matt Hartley, Sharmila Chauhan and Rory Mullarkey, to tell the real stories of the countryside. Elizabeth has pioneered digital work including podcasts and the live-streaming of village hall productions beamed into cities and across the world. She has become a national spokesperson for rural theatre and champion of gender equality across the arts. Her impact on the company has been considerable and her passion and ambition for rural theatre inspiring. We will be very sad to see Elizabeth leave. The post of Artistic Director at Pentabus represents an exciting opportunity for an ambitious theatre director with a keen interest in rural affairs and an enthusiasm to further develop the company. We hope the post will attract interest from across the artistic community and look forward to appointing an Artistic Director who can lead the company through the next phase of its development.'
The formal process to appoint a new Artistic Director is now underway. The Board are currently advertising for a successor with a deadline for applications of Friday 8th July 2016. Full details can be found on the Pentabus website.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Pentabus is the nation’s rural theatre company. We set out to prove that great new theatre is made in the countryside. We commission and produce work with local relevance and national impact. The company’s work tours to village halls and studio theatres as well as non-conventional arts spaces including fields and festivals, bringing new writing that explores rural issues to audiences across the country. The company was founded in 1974 and over 40+ years has produced hundreds of new plays and reached thousands of audience members nationwide.
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