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Bush Theatre appoints its first black artistic director

15 Nov 2018

Image credit: Kwaku Kyei

Lynette Linton will become the new artistic director of London’s Bush Theatre, it has been announced. Linton, who is just 28, will be the first woman of colour to take on the prestigious position since the theatre’s establishment in 1972.

Having previously acted as resident assistant director at the Donmar Warehouse and associate director at the Gate Theatre, as artistic director Linton will have overarching artistic control of the theatre company and its production choices. The role is one of the most coveted in British theatre – with the Bush having drawn in nearly 30,000 people to see Arinzé Kene’s double award-nominated show Misty this year.

After graduating in English Literature from the University of Sussex, Linton went on to direct titles including Function and Assata Taught Me, the latter for which she received a Stage Debut nomination. She also wrote #HashtagLightie, a play about mixedness in the UK today. Her previous works have explored issues of race and class, specifically coloursim and gentrification.

In conversation with gal-dem in February 2017, Linton said of her motivation to work in theatre: “My biggest thing was just having this motivation from not seeing myself on stage, not seeing stories on stage that resonated with me.”

“You can’t go to a theatre and say “put my play on #HashtagLightie” – what does that even mean?!” she joked. “But obviously there is an audience out there for it. There is a voice that needs to be heard, so you just kind of have to do it yourself.”

The Bush Theatre, located in Shepherd’s Bush, is one of the most celebrated new writing theatres in the world, specialising in championing new playwrights and underrepresented voices.

Theatre chair Simon Johnson remarked on the historic appointment: “In searching for a new artistic director for the Bush Theatre, the board of trustees looked for an individual who moved and inspired us; a leader who is willing to fight for what we stand for and who is unswerving in their commitment to nurturing new writing and new artists. Lynette Linton has these qualities in abundance.”

“I can’t wait to see her build on the momentum of Madani’s tenure to continue to raise the scale, profile and impact of our remarkable theatre both artistically and socially,” he added.

Of her appointment, Linton, who hails from east London, said in a statement today: “The Bush Theatre is such an important venue and I have seen some of my favourite ever plays in this building.”

“I am so honoured to be stepping into this role after the amazing tenure of Madani Younis, who has been an inspiration to me from the beginning of my career”, she continued.

“I cannot wait to lead an exciting new chapter inspired by all the wonderful artists that populate our unique city. Come we go!”

Read gal-dem’s 2017 interview with Lynette Linton here.