Matthew Warchus Will Step Down as Artistic Director of The Old Vic in 2026

Recruitment for the Artistic Director of The Old Vic will begin this summer. 

By: May. 23, 2024
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The Old Vic has announced that Matthew Warchus, following 11 years leading the organisation, will step  down as Artistic Director in September 2026. 

Appointed in 2015, Matthew, alongside the leadership team, has gone on to transform the theatre,  increasing the number of shows each year and presenting popular and acclaimed Seasons of work that  include new writing, refreshed classics, bold new musicals, dance theatre and shows for families. The Old  Vic’s iconic building is now open day and night with transformed and newly accessible front-of-house,  Stage Door and back-of-house spaces. 

The Old Vic is one of London’s oldest, and largest, producing theatres, annually welcoming audiences of  over 270,000 people and, in the 2022/2023 Season, achieving an extraordinary seated capacity of 91%.  Despite receiving no regular public subsidy, the 206-year-old venue is committed to audience development  and engaging people from all over the world. During Matthew’s tenure, the theatre has welcomed over  140,000 audience members for just £10 through the PwC Previews Scheme.  

To date, his 10 Seasons of work have delivered 25 world premieres, West End and Broadway transfers,  national and international tours, and achieved hundreds of award nominations including Olivier and Tony  Award wins. 

One of the recurring highlights of Matthew’s tenure continues to be his striking production of A Christmas  Carol, scripted by Jack Thorne. The show has become a joy-filled staple at The Old Vic as well as having  spin-off productions in Melbourne, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and on Broadway, where it won  five Tony Awards. Less well known is that, by incorporating a bucket collection into the final moments of  every performance, Matthew profoundly augmented the social impact of this festive favourite by raising, to  date, over £1.6million for various food bank and homeless charities. The production looks set to raise  millions more for similar charities in the years ahead. 

The new musical adaptation of Groundhog Day, which he conceived, developed and directed has had two  record-breaking runs at The Old Vic as well as playing to great acclaim on Broadway and in Melbourne. It received nine Olivier Award Nominations – winning Best New Musical and Best Actor in a Musical (Andy  Karl) – and seven Tony Award Nominations.  

Matthew also artistically led the theatre through the 2020 pandemic closure, spearheading the  groundbreaking OLD VIC: IN CAMERA – a season of star-cast plays streamed live from the empty  auditorium, seen by over 100,000 households in 93 countries. 

Alongside The Old Vic’s productions on stage, Matthew has worked to support and nurture the artists of the  present and future as well as championing the theatre’s ongoing commitment to its Education & Community  programme which reaches thousands of people each year. The strength of this commitment is underpinned  by plans for the new Backstage building, adjacent to the theatre on Waterloo Road. As part of Matthew’s  

legacy, a six-storey space dedicated to creativity, education and community is currently under construction  and will open in Autumn 2025, further cementing The Old Vic’s position as a cultural hub with a strong  social mission for the local area and beyond.

Matthew Warchus said: ‘Being the Artistic Director of The Old Vic has been one of my life’s greatest  privileges and pleasures. It is without question my favourite theatre in the world. 

‘As a charity without any regular public subsidy, the survival of The Old Vic is dependent on regularly filling  its 1,000 seats by engaging as wide an audience as possible with work of the highest quality. An average  year of performances at The Old Vic will necessarily play to a total capacity greatly exceeding that of most  of the exciting, but much smaller, producing venues in the capital – more than double the Young Vic, about  three times the Almeida, Hampstead and Royal Court, and more than four times that of the Donmar. And  for the same reasons, The Old Vic’s accessible ticket scheme likely provides more affordable tickets than  any other London theatre except for the National. 

‘This level of reach represents a great opportunity, challenge and responsibility. My aim has been to deliver  ‘entertainment with a purpose’… a varied programme of work with always something important to say but  which doesn’t feel like medicine… and I’m proud of the many fun, uplifting and inspiring productions we  have presented throughout my tenure. The greatest joy and privilege, however, is in the huge number of  first-time theatregoers we continue to welcome through our doors. This quintessential playhouse with an  exhilarating spirit of adventure, The Old Vic really is the perfect place to experience theatre for the first  time. 

‘The Old Vic board, senior management team and entire staff is comprised of brilliant colleagues, who have  provided exemplary support and expertise and, the truth is, I would happily stay for many more years but  it’s time to pass on this very prestigious baton. Meanwhile, I’m delighted to be continuing for two more  Seasons and look forward to announcing those upcoming shows in due course.’ 

Nick Clarry, Chair of The Old Vic, said: ‘It has been a pleasure to watch Matthew at the helm of The Old  Vic over the last decade. He has the most extraordinary ability to create and find work that reaches  audiences of all generations and from all backgrounds. In his hands, The Old Vic has become a thriving  producing house with a spirit of adventure. An historic building transformed into an unintimidating space  with upgraded facilities and an extensive education and community programme. This work will find a home  in the adjacent building in 2025 when a new arts hub opens to the public, further enhancing The Old Vic’s  reach, social impact and Matthew’s legacy. 

‘I am delighted that Matthew has agreed to stay until the end of his eleventh Season and excited about  what will be achieved in the final two years of his tenure. We will soon be starting the recruitment process  to find a new Artistic Director to build on Matthew’s extraordinary work.’ 

Recruitment for the Artistic Director of The Old Vic will begin this summer. 


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