David Lan – Last days at the Young Vic

This week saw the departure of the Artistic Director of the Young Vic, David Lan after 18 years leading the venue.  Lan’s time as Artistic Director has been extraordinary in both what he has achieved in both productions and artistic support at the venue, whilst overseeing a complete regeneration of the physical building itself. The artistic output of the Young Vic during the last 18 years has been truly amazing and this post would be way too long if I were to mention all the highlights: for me the top 3 highlights would be Peter Brook’s Battlefields (Feb 2016), Juliet Stevenson in Arthur Kopit’s Wings (Sept-Nov 2017) and Ivo Van Hove’s production of Miller’s A View from The Bridge with Mark Strong and Nicola Walker.  [As an aside, I will add that I saw the last production in the cinema in The Barbican via the NT Digital Theatre – something I will come back to at a later date] Behind the scenes Lan has led programes to support future directors, designers and producers via the Director’s Program and a thriving Young People and Community programme. 

In 2003 Lan launched a campaign to redevelop the theatre (which been built out of an old butcher’s shop and next door bomb site) before the theatre closed in 2004 for building work.  During that time he led the theatre on “Walkabout” allowing the theatre to keep producing work whilst the redevelopment went on.  When the theatre reopened in 2006 it included 2 new studio spaces, new workshop space and development to the backstage areas; the main auditorium and the main entrance (the old butcher’s shop) left in tact.  The theatre would go on to win RIBA London Building of the Year in 2007.  

In 2012, away from the day job of Artistic Director, Lan was one of the founders of What Next a movement across the arts and culture community which “bringing together arts and cultural organisations across the UK, to articulate, champion and strengthen the role of culture in our society.”  

As yet Lan has made no public announcement on his future plans.  Kwame Kwei-Armah took over as Artistic Director on 1st February. 

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