Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds has today welcomed Owen Calvert-Lyons as its new CEO/artistic director.
He joins after four years as head of theatre and artist development at London’s Ovalhouse Theatre. Prior to that he was artistic cirector of The Point, in Eastleigh. He has also worked for Arcola Theatre, York Theatre Royal and Theatre Royal Plymouth.
“I am delighted to be leading the Theatre Royal team into a new chapter in this theatre’s extraordinary history. This is a complex time to take over, with the theatre closed for some time to come,” he said.
Owen joins at a time when the theatre is facing a challenging future. With the doors closed since the middle of March and all productions cancelled until the end of October the whole industry is forced to look at new ways of working. Owen plans to hit the ground running with the launch of a new community project which will shine a light on the positive stories to emerge out of this situation.
“I’m excited to announce ‘Walking Stories’, a project which will enable people of Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages to create works of art in the streets where they live with the help of some theatre professionals. These audio-guided walks are created for the times in which we find ourselves. They are designed to be enjoyed individually and outdoors.
“It is important to me that we begin with something optimistic. Our lives have been transformed by the effects of Covid-19, but there have been silver-linings which gives us something positive to focus on. Communities have rallied round to support each other. People have volunteered to help those most in need. I really hope that we can hold on to some of those positive changes and that ‘Walking Stories’ will encourage people to safely come back out into the streets to explore and celebrate the everyday wonders of where they live.”
“Walking Stories” follows Owen’s hallmark approach to innovative, collaborative theatre-making. He has worked with communities to create productions inside a multi-story car park, a mogul palace and an urban wheat field. His “Let’s Build” project worked with 20 ten-year-olds to design and build a temporary theatre in Brixton. Owen has previously created audio-guided, citizen-led story walks through Cape Town, Karachi, London and Melbourne.
He added: “All of us at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds are looking forward to the day that we can open our doors and invite audiences back into our beautiful theatre. That’s why the team launched ‘The Show Must Go On!’ appeal to raise funds to support us to reopen the theatre. We’ve already almost half of our target, which is fantastic. It’s wonderful to be leading a theatre which is so loved by its community. I want to give a personal thanks to everyone who has donated to our campaign so far. I hope that I get the opportunity to welcome you through our doors soon.”
Meanwhile, Roger Quince, chairman of Theatre Royal Board of Trustees, said: “We appointed Owen just a few weeks before this crisis took hold. I am confident that Owen’s background and experience will help Theatre Royal to emerge stronger and more resilient by having weathered this storm. He will lead the team in delivering a sustainable programme of high-quality presenting and producing work and we will once again enrich the lives of our audiences who have stood by us in this most challenging time.”
- Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds is appealing to people to consider donating to their re-opening Appeal, “The Show Will Go On!” to help support them through the challenging months ahead and keep the theatre for generations to enjoy and love. Donations can be made at www.theatreroyal.org
- Theatre Royal “Walking Stories” project will be launched and inviting applications in the next few weeks.