David Lan’s Olivier Award Speech

Image uploaded from iOS (2)Former Artistic Director of the Young Vic, director and playwright David Lan was presented with the Special Award at the Olivier Awards 2018 ceremony on Sunday evening at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

His speech discussed the local, national and international reach of Young Vic and his aims during his tenure here as Artistic Director.

You can read the full, unedited speech below:

First, thank you to the Society for this award.

It’s a big one and I’m pleased, to put it mildly, and surprised, to put it even more mildly.  Whoever made the decision – I’m grateful to you.

It’s just me standing up here…

… but many had to do much on the journey to this big stage on this big evening.

Patrick McKenna – chair of my board for most of my 18 years

Kevin Fitzmaurice – my first executive director

Lucy Woollatt – my second executive director

Sue Emmas – my long-time associate

Steve Tompkins – architect of our fabulous building

My team, my many teams

And then –

The Arts Council, especially Alan Davey

The Jerwood Foundation, especially the profoundly missed Roanne Dodds

The Genesis Foundation, especially John Studzinsky

… all of whom got in behind our big idea even as we were working out what that big idea might be

… and many, many joined along the way.

Amongst those, especially, I thank the hundreds of great actors, writers, directors, designers, technicians, stage managers… without whom … without whom.

Another without whom – my boyfriend Nick Wright, sitting there in the front row, with whom I’ve been talking about theatre and much else for more than 40 years …

And my long term friend and inspiration Stephen Daldry, also without whom…

When Frank Dunlop started the Young Vic in London SE1 in the late 1960s it was imagined as a place where people could make theatre in the way they wanted their society to be: open, democratic, equal.

I believe we stayed true to those values.

Producers, crew, our whole team thought of our theatre as a welcoming environment in which great artists meet great audiences.

All that mattered to us was what happened when, night after night, those memorable meetings took place.

And alongside many great and will-be-great artists from this country, we welcomed others from Iceland, France, Germany, Brazil, South Africa, the US, Palestine, Congo, Poland, Syria, from all over the planet.

And we welcomed thousands of non-professionals from our neighbourhoods, young as well as old, especially – though not only – the vulnerable in whatever way.

To the shows we made with them we gave the same high status we gave any artist.

Over recent years, we’ve engaged with the world in a special way by inviting into our theatre refugees.

Their lives, their stories, themselves as performers.

I hope you’ll forgive me if I contrast the Young Vic’s welcoming environment with the hostile environment – to give it its official name – which the Home Office creates in relation to refugees.

In particular, the decision to close the door on hundreds of young refugees now scattered across Northern France, many with the legal right to live in this country, abandoned to hunger, to cold, to people traffickers within clear sight of us on a sunny day.

And what of those with no legal right?

My grandparents fled Lithuania as teenagers in the 1920s – escaping poverty and anti-Semitism.

Were they economic migrants?  Well, they were certainly after a better life.

Fifteen years later when the Nazis marched in, their parents were killed in the streets.  So, in retrospect, were Mottel and Golda Lan really political refugees?

Their modern-day equivalents are – now as I speak – locked in squalor in Yarls Wood and other detention centres. Hundreds are deported or turned away.

In The Jungle by Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson which we and the National and Good Chance Theatre produced last year, a volunteer at the camp in Calais says of the refugees making their way across Europe:

‘It’s only a crisis because we’re calling it that. A half a million refugees – the population of Europe is 700 million, that’s who knows how tiny a percent. Go to Jordan, a quarter of the people are refugees. Lebanon, it’s a third. Crisis?  European Governments need to stop breaking their own laws.’

In Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance, now playing at the Young Vic, a character describes the house which symbolises their sufferings and dreams as:

‘A shelter, a refuge, a place of healing; a reminder of the pain, the fragility and the promise of life’.

That’s what I hoped my theatre would be.

We wanted to change the world. Perhaps all we changed was a few streets of London SE1. But that we did.

In that spirit and on behalf of the hundreds, the thousands of citizens of south London and the world who changed it with me –

– thank you for this.

The Olivier Awards 2018 presented by Catherine Tate are now available to watch on the ITV player.

David Lan announced as Special Award winner at the 2018 Oliviers

Former Artistic Director of the Young Vic, director and playwright David Lan will be presented with the Special Award at the Olivier Awards 2018 ceremony on Sunday 8 April at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The award will be presented in recognition of his outstanding contribution in leading the Young Vic since 2000, his work within the local community around the theatre, and his commitment to internationalism and diversity.

David Lan January 2018 Credit Johan Persson.jpg

David Lan, 2018. Photo by Johan Persson. 

David stepped down as Artistic Director earlier this year after leading the Young Vic for almost two decades.  Over the course of his tenure, the YV’s reputation has grown to become one of the most admired theatres in the world. It is known for its extensive and fully integrated outreach program, its engagement with young theatre artists, especially directors as well as playing to an audience acknowledged to be the most diverse in the UK. David wrote the architectural brief for the 2004/6 re-development of the theatre, and led the entire project including a 24 show, 32 city walkabout season.

He has produced the work of some of the most influential theatre makers of our time including Peter Brook, Ivo Van Hove, Benedict Andrews, Susan Stroman, Stephen Daldry and Katie Mitchell and has championed innovative ways of co-producing across the UK and internationally. David also is responsible for establishing the Young Vic’s Genesis Directors Program many of whose past members now lead theatres all over the UK. Many YV productions have gone on to great success in the West End on Broadway (the Olivier Award Winning Yerma opening this March at the Park Avenue Armory), and in other theatres around the world.

In addition, he founded the What Next? Alliance of arts organisations which now has ‘Chapters’ throughout the UK.

The Young Vic has won eleven Olivier Awards under David’s tenure including Outstanding Achievement In An Affiliate Theatre in 2004 for his “audacious season” and artistic direction.

Past recipients of the Special Award include Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Sondheim, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen.

Widely recognised as the most prestigious stage honours, this year’s Olivier Awards return to the Royal Albert Hall and will be hosted by Catherine Tate.


Fun Home Casting Announced!

We’re thrilled to be able to announce casting for Fun Home, the five-time award winning musical based on a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel with music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and direction by Sam Gold:

Alison: Kaisa Hammarlund
Medium Alison: Eleanor Kane
Helen: Jenna Russell
Roy/Mark/Jeremy: Ashley Samuels
Joan: Cherrelle Skeete
Bruce, Alison’s father: Zubin Varla

More information about the company is below. Casting for Small Alison, John and Christian will be confirmed soon.

Kaisa_blogKaisa Hammarlund | Alison
Theatre includes: Cockpit (Lyceum Edinburgh); Sweet Charity (Royal Exchange Theatre  Manchester, Theatre Awards & UK Theatre Awards nomination for Best Actress); Bakkhai (Almeida); As You Like It (Southwark Playhouse); Sleeping Beauty (Park Theatre); The Captain of Kopeknick (National Theatre); The Tempest (Theatre Royal Bath); Can I Be Straight With You / Courting Drama (Bush Theatre); The Boys from Syracuse (Union Theatre); The Three Musketeers (Rose Theatre Kingston); A Day Before Spring (Sadler’s Wells); Cabaret (Lyric Theatre); Sunday in the Park with George, They’re Playing Our Song, A Little Night Music, Take Flight (Menier Chocolate Factory); Mamma Mia (Prince of Wales theatre and touring); Legally Blonde (Nöjesteatern, Malmö Sweden).
Television includes:  Lewis, Doctors, The Sandhamn Murders, Holby City.
Film includes: K, Coup de Grace.


Eleanor Headshot_blog.jpgEleanor Kane | Medium Alison
Theatre includes: Assassins, Wondertown,  Barefoot Gen, The Merchant of Venice, Three Days in the Country, Rhinoceros, Three Sisters (Rose Bruford); Threeway (Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe Festival); Werther (Scottish Opera); Now’s the Hour (Scottish Youth Theatre); Joan and Jim R&D (Told By An Idiot).




Jenna Russell_blogJenna Russell | Helen
Theatre includes: Di and Viv and Rose (Vaudeville theatre); Urinetown (Apollo and St James Theatre); Mr Burns (Almeida); Merrily We Roll Along (Menier Chocolate Factory / Pinter Theatre); That Day We Sang (Opera House, Manchester); Seasons Greetings (National Theatre); Into The Woods (Regents Park); Sunday in the Park With George (Wyndhams / Studio 54 Broadway); Amy’s View (Garrick Theatre); Guys and Dolls (Picadilly Theatre); Into the Woods (Donmar Warehouse); Three Sisters (Royal Court).
Television includes: Call the Midwife, The Paradise, Minder, Dr Who, Born and Bred, Picking Up the Pieces.
Film includes: Mortdecai.
Awards include:  Nominee for 2008 Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Theatre World Award and Drama League for Leading Actress in a Musical for Sunday In The Park with George. Olivier Award Winner for Best Actress in a Musical for Sunday In The Park with George 2007. Nominee for 2006 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Guys and Dolls.


Ashely Samuels bw.jpgAshley Samuels | Roy/Mark/Jeremy
Theatre includes: Motown the Musical (Shaftsbury Theatre); The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre); The Toxic Avenger (Southwark Playhouse); The World Goes Round (Stephen Joseph Theatre); Olivier Awards 2014 (Royal Opera House).
Television includes: This Morning (ITV); Sing it Kitty (commercial).
Other work includes: Concert soloist (The Other Palace & Electric Theatre).



Cherrelle Headshot_blogCherrelle Skeete | Joan
Theatre includes: The Seagull, Jack and Beanstalk (Lyric Hammersmith); Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre); Three Days in the Country, The Amen Corner (National Theatre); Wind in the Willows (Royal & Derngate); And I and Silence (Finborough Theatre); The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre) The Edge, Sold, King Lear, Love’s Last Shift, There’s No Place Like Home, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Three Sisters (Central School of Speech and Drama); Joey Boy (The MAC).
Television includes: Silent Witness, Doctors, Danny and the Human Zoo, The Five, Ordinary Lies, Call the Midwife.


Zubin_blogZubin Varla | Bruce
Young Vic includes: Measure for Measure, The Changeling.
Theatre includes: Poison (Orange Tree Theatre); The Unknown Island (Gate Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe); Dara, War Horse, Attempts on Her Life, The Enchantment, The Life of Galileo and Cyrano de Bergerac(National Theatre); The El Train (Hoxton Hall): Don Juan Comes Back from the War (Finborough); Troilus and Cressida (RSC/Wooster Group); Chess (UK tour); Into Thy Hands(Jericho House); Amadeus (City of London Sinfonia/Barbican); In the Soliyude of Cottonfields (ATC) Hello and Goodbye (Treatment Theatre Company); Julius Caesar (RSC/Lyric Hammersmith); Faust (RSC); The Painter of Dishonour (RSC); Midnight’s Children, Roberto Zucco, Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest (RSC); Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyceum); Paradise Regained (Royal Court); Teeth n Smiles (Sheffield Crucible); and Twelfth Night (Donmar West End), Antigone (Old Vic/Donmar); Beautiful Thing (Duke of York’s); In the Heart of America (Bush Theatre); Romeo and Juliet (Regent’s Park).
Television includes: Deep State, Will, Our Girl, Strike Back, Holby City, Garrow’s Law, Crocodile Shoes, Hustle, Little Dorrit, Saddam’s Tribe, Silent Witness and Spooks.
Film includes: Mad, Sad and Bad, Twelfth Night.


Fun Home runs from 18 June – 1 September 2018 in the Young Vic’s Main House. Book your tickets here



★★★★★ ‘Witty, outrageous and deeply moving’ | The Inheritance Reviews

The company of The Inheritance at the Young Vic © Simon Annand

The reviews are in for The Inheritance and critics and audiences alike are loving about it. This hilarious and profound two part world premiere by Matthew Lopez opened last night at the Young Vic.

“Witty, outrageous and deeply moving”
The Evening Standard | Read the full review

“Perhaps the most important American play of the century so far”
The Telegraph | Read the full review

“Stephen Daldry’s crystalline production pierces your emotional defenses”
The Guardian | Read the full review

“An epic work. Stephen Daldry directs superbly. I fell for it.”
The Times| Read the full review

Kyle Soller, Paul Hilton and John Benjamin Hickey in The Inheritance at the Young Vic © Simon Annand

“Extraordinarily accomplished acting”
The Independent | Read the full review


Time Out | Read the full review

“What a class act.  Phenomenally good acting.”

The Daily Mail | Read the full review

“Exquisitely pitched. An incredible feat”
The Stage | Read the full review

“Vast in its emotional scope. It covers the whole gamut of gay men’s lives”
Gay Times | Read the full review

The Inheritance runs at the Young Vic until 19 May. Availability is limited.
Click here to book now.

Syrus Lowe, Kyle Soller and Michael Walters in The Inheritance at the Young Vic © Simon Annand

New Executive Director announced: Despina Tsatsas

We are thrilled to announce that Despina Tsatsas will be the Young Vic’s new Executive Director in summer 2018. Despina is currently Executive Producer at Punchdrunk International and she will take over the role from interim Executive Director, Sarah Hall.

Young Vic Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah says: “We had some fantastic candidates apply for the position as Executive Director from all around the world, but the qualities that Despina demonstrated made her the perfect person for the job. Despina is everything I would want an Executive Director to be; imaginative, ambitious and a true team-player. We can’t wait for her to join the Young Vic family.”

Incoming Executive Director Despina Tsatsas says: “The Young Vic is driven by a mission to create world-class theatre for some of the most engaged and diverse audiences in the UK. Under the leadership of David Lan and Lucy Woollatt its institutional culture has also became synonymous with artistic integrity, meaningful political engagement and a generosity of spirit. These values – along with the-once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to work with the hugely inspirational Kwame Kwei-Armah – made me jump at the chance to join the team.”

Despina is a theatre producer with experience across the subsidised and commercial sector. She was previously Executive Producer at UK’s Frantic Assembly working closely with Artistic Director Scott Graham, and has worked for organisations including Almeida theatre, and Ambassador Theatre Group. She was also Associate Producer for West End General Management company Mark Rubinstein Ltd where clients included National Theatre Productions (War Horse UK Tour, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time).

Whilst at Mark Rubinstein Ltd, Despina acted as Main House Producer at the Young Vic theatre between 2010 and 2012 producing works including Sweet Nothings, Vernon God Little, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Glass Menagerie, Hamlet, Government Inspector, I Am The Wind, The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Wild Swans, and working with directors including David Lan, Carrie Cracknell, Rufus Norris, Richard Jones, Joe Hill-Gibbins and Patrice Chereau.

Despina is a Clore Leadership Programme Fellow (2012/2013) and received a Stage One Apprenticeship early in her career. She is a Board Member of UK charity Clean Break – a women’s theatre company working with women offenders and those at risk of offending, as well as medical-educational charity The Laura Case Trust.

The Inheritance | Audience Responses

We’ve been blown away with the brilliant responses to the first few previews of Part 1 & 2 of The Inheritance.

Inspired by the novel ‘Howards End’ by E.M. Forster, The Inheritance asks what is it like to be a young gay man in New York? This hilarious and profound heart-breaker runs at the Young Vic until 19 May.

See what audiences have been saying on social media and book your tickets now.

Syrus Lowe, Kyle Soller and Michael Walters in The Inheritance at the Young Vic © Simon AnnandSyrus Lowe, Kyle Soller & Michael Marcus. Photo by Simon Annand.
Kyle Soller, Samuel H. Levine and Andrew Burnap in The Inheritance at the Young Vic © Simon AnnandKyle Soller, Samuel H. Levine & Andrew Burnap. Photo by Simon Annand.
Kyle Soller, Paul Hilton and John Benjamin Hickey in The Inheritance at the Young Vic © Simon AnnandKyle Soller, Paul Hilton & John Benjamin Hickey. Photo by Simon Annand.
Samuel H. Levine and Andrew Burnap in The Inheritance at the Young Vic © Simon AnnandSamuel H. Levine & Andrew Burnap. Photo by Simon Annand.

The Inheritance runs at the Young Vic until 19 May. Stephen Daldry directs this hilarious and profound world premiere in two parts by New York playwright Matthew Lopez.

Book tickets: https://www.youngvic.org/whats-on/the-inheritance

In response to The Jungle, The Brothers Size and The Inheritance | YV Taking Part

It’s been a busy start to 2018 for our incredible education and outreach team, Young Vic Taking Part. Working in response to some stunning productions in the YV’s Main House including The Jungle, The Brothers Size and The Inheritance, they’ve been working with a wide range of people from Lambeth, Southwark and beyond.

The Tide

The Tide was our schools response to The Jungle and was met with some amazing feedback. Written by Eno Mfon, directed by Eva Sampson and performed by local teenagers, The Tide explored what is home, family and migration and was performed in the YV’s Maria space with a stunning design incorporating trampolines by Cecile Tremolieres.

The Brothers Size Parallel Production

A post shared by Young Vic (@youngvictheatre) on

Taking Part have also been working with HMP Wandsworth. At the beginning of February Jonathan Ajayi, Sope Dirisu, Manuel Pinheiro and Anthony Welsh performed Bijan Sheibani’s production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size.  Forty men currently at the prison watched the sharing and were invited to take part in our project inspired by the theme’s explored in McCraney’s work. The script they develop with writer Luke Barnes will form a later production with young offenders, directed by Justin Audibert.

Neighbours Known. Neighbours Unknown.

In collaboration with the acclaimed The Choir with No Name who run choirs for homeless and marginalised people, on a singing project that brings together their members with people from our local boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. Members of the YV Taking Part’s Neighbourhood Theatre have been working on Neighbours Known. Neighbours Unknown. a singing project that celebrates singing, community and togetherness. They’ll be performing on Sat 17 March at The Workshop in Vauxhall.

Within Reach

Within Reach - TB TP 2018 invite v2

Taking Part have also had the first few rehearsals of Within Reach, a movement based response to Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance, led by Grace Gibson. Working with people who have HIV or have been directly affected by the illness, the work will be shared in early May.

Arts in Schools Campaign

Taking Part has also been working hard on arts in schools and worked on the first London Theatre Consortium symposium on a future curriculum for drama education which YV AD Kwame Kwei-Armah spoke at. Find out more about the event and people’s responses on our video.