Shakespeare Theatre Names Simon Godwin Its New Artistic Director

The young British director, currently an associate at London’s National Theatre, will succeed Michael Kahn at D.C.’s classical mainstay.

Simon Godwin. (Photo by Johan Persson)

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Shakespeare Theatre Company has announced that Simon Godwin will be the theatre’s next  artistic director. Godwin, currently the associate director at London’s National Theatre, previously served as associate director of the Royal Court Theatre and associate director at the Bristol Old Vic in the United Kingdom. He will succeed Michael Kahn, who has been at the helm of STC since 1986.

“Simon is widely regarded as a star of the next generation of artistic leadership,” said STC board chairman Michael Klein in a statement. “He was chosen after a nine-month global search, from a broadly diverse pool of candidates, because of his artistic excellence and proven ability to conceptualize and curate bold, energetic and innovative theatre. Over the past eight years he has directed 19 productions of Shakespeare and other plays in leading theatres throughout England and the United States, including the Globe, Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre, Kennedy Center and the Royal Court.”

Godwin will start in his new role on Aug. 1, 2019, though he will immediately begin to work with the existing STC artistic team to plan the 2019-2020 season, while continuing with his directorial commitments in London and Japan. His forthcoming production of Antony & Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo opens at the National Theatre this fall, followed by Timon of Athens at the Royal Shakespeare Company, starring Kathryn Hunter as Timon, in December. Later next year Simon will make his Tokyo debut, directing a Japanese cast in Hamlet for Theatre Cocoon.

“Despite his many commitments Simon is eager to plan his first season,” said STC artistic director Michael Kahn in a statement. “It’s important to me and him that his debut season is his own, rather than one he inherits and is committed to deliver. He has some wonderful ideas and I’m looking forward to supporting him in any way I can to help him achieve his vision.”

In addition to his productions abroad, his work has also been seen in the U.S., in The Cherry Orchard at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company in 2016, Measure for Measure at the Theatre for a New Audience in 2017, and Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company, which later played at the Kennedy Center as part of its international tour.

“Working in the U.K. for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, and the Royal Court, I felt a natural synergy with STC’s exceptional work,” said Godwin in a statement. “Michael Kahn has built a strong legacy by creating one of the leading classical theatres in America and transforming the arts scene in Washington, D.C. I look forward to building on his enormous success by continuing to create high-quality, exciting, inclusive, and diverse theatre that welcomes all audiences.”

Godwin, who studied English at Cambridge, later founded Stray Dogs Theatre Company, and assisted Rupert Goold at the Royal and Derngate Thaetres in Northampton, made his National Theatre debut with Strange Interlude, followed by Man and Superman. He’s been as an artistic associate there since 2015.