01 Mar 2019

The Board of Sherman Theatre has appointed Joe Murphy as Artistic Director of Sherman Theatre to build on the foundations laid and success achieved during Rachel O’Riordan’s tenure in the role, creating and curating work of the highest standard for audiences and communities across the capital of Wales.

Over the past five years Sherman Theatre has firmly established itself as a civic resource for the citizens of Cardiff with national and international profile producing exceptional theatre, nurturing Welsh and Wales-based artists and further enriching Wales’ dramatic canon. The Board sought to appoint an individual with significant experience of creating work of artistic excellence and supporting and developing artists, a passion for placing audiences at the forefront of the theatre’s thinking and the ambition and drive to continue to build the theatre’s profile. Joe Murphy will take up his position as Artistic Director in July 2019, working with Sherman Theatre’s Executive Director Julia Barry.

Joe Murphy is a theatre director with extensive experience of working both within established theatre buildings and freelance. He is currently Associate Director at The Old Vic, London and has previously held posts as Associate Director at Soho Theatre and Artistic Director of new writing company nabokov. Joe’s work as a director includes Woyzeck starring John Boyega (The Old Vic, London), Incognito (Bush Theatre, Live Theatre and HighTide), Blink (Soho Theatre, Off-Broadway & nabokov), Bunny (Soho Theatre and Off-Broadway), The Taming of The Shrew (Shakespeare’s Globe and World Tour) and The Boy with Striped Pyjamas (Children’s Touring Partnership). Through his work at Soho Theatre and as Artistic Director of nabokov, Joe is known for nurturing the next generation of theatre makers: under his tenure at nabokov the company presented the work of 88 playwrights and 496 artists across 3 continents. Joe’s expertise and advice as a dramaturgical consultant is much sought after by leading theatre practitioners. Joe’s affinity with Cardiff was borne out of his sustained relationship with Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

David Stacey, Chair of the Board of Sherman Theatre has said of the appointment “After an extensive search that included the receipt of over thirty applications from across the globe demonstrating a wide breadth of talent and experience, followed by a series of in depth interviews with outstanding candidates, we are pleased to be announcing the appointment of Joe Murphy as our new Artistic Director. The field was incredibly strong and that is testament to the work undertaken by the Sherman team over recent years to develop the theatre into the dynamic organization it is today.

The Board are extremely excited by Joe’s vision and commitment to build on Rachel O’Riordan’s legacy and forge new and inspiring innovations to drive Sherman Theatre forward in the coming years. Joe’s experience of working in some of the most significant buildings in the UK, his demonstrable talent for nurturing and developing new writing and writers, and his passion for connecting with audiences and communities will ensure the continued momentum of the ongoing success of the Sherman."

Joe Murphy has said “I am completely thrilled to be appointed the next Artistic Director of Sherman Theatre. This exceptional building is home to world class Welsh artists working in both languages, it sits at the heart of an incredibly vibrant city, and it engages a rich mix of communities and audiences - I couldn’t imagine a more exciting place to be working. Welsh language theatre will continue to form a core part of the Sherman’s cultural offer and I am determined to build on the stellar work of taking Welsh stories to the international stage. The visionary leadership of Rachel O’Riordan is a very tough act to follow, but I can’t wait to get started

Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive of Arts Council Wales said “We’re delighted to be welcoming Joe Murphy to Sherman Theatre. He inherits a strong and entrepreneurial organisation that occupies a prominent position in the cultural life of Wales. However, with an impressive and wide ranging career in theatre Joe brings with him the experience and reputation that will maintain Sherman Theatre’s success.”

Playwright Tim Price has said “Joe’s appointment is exciting news for Welsh theatre. I’ve known Joe for some years and I’ve seen first-hand how committed he is to playwrights and new writing. Joe has worked with some of the best writers and actors in the business and he will bring that knowledge and expertise to Cardiff. I know Joe will relish throwing himself into our culture and will be determined to find the next generation of talent in both languages. Joe will be a champion of our community in Wales and beyond.”

Matthew Warchus, Artistic Director of The Old Vic said “This is a great appointment. Joe has been a tremendous force for good during his time at the Old Vic. His vitality, enthusiasm, skill and ability as a collaborator and a leader are very impressive. I know he will make great friendships in Wales. We at the Old Vic will miss him but we wish him well for this exciting new tenure at the Sherman.”

Recent success for Sherman Theatre includes a sell-out world premiere run of Woof by Elgan Rhys, directed by Gethin Evans, an acclaimed production of Meic Povey’s classic play Fel Anifail, directed by Jac Ifan Moore and a hugely popular Main House Christmas production of Alice in Wonderland for ages 7 plus. In 2018 Sherman Theatre became the first Welsh theatre to win the title of Regional Theatre of the Year at the Stage Awards. Also in 2018 Sherman Theatre’s co-production with London’s Royal Court Theatre, Killology by Gary Owen, directed by Rachel O’Riordan won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement In Affiliate Theatre.

Sherman Theatre’s artist development schemes, the New Welsh Playwrights Programme and JMK/Sherman Directors group, both funded by The Carne Trust, continue to be sector leading Sherman Theatre has widened and diversified its audience through Sherman 5, which is generously funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and through other audience development schemes. This crucial work to give all of Cardiff’s communities access to theatre will continue thanks to an additional four years of funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Joe Murphy

Joe Murphy

Image credit: Michael Shelford


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