Torch Theatre appoints new Artistic Director
Milford Haven’s Torch Theatre has announced that Chelsey Gillard has been appointed as its new Artistic Director.
She succeeds Peter Doran who announced in April that he was stepping down after 25 years in the role.
Ms Gillard arrives at the Torch with a wealth of experience in theatre and was most recently the Carne Trust Associate Director at The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.
She is a founding member of PowderHouse, the Company in Residence at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff and is also an Associate Artist with Chippy Lane Productions.
“I am thrilled to be joining The Torch, I have long admired the work of this brilliant team and Peter Doran’s leadership,” she said.
“As the only regularly funded venue in Pembrokeshire it has been a beacon of creativity and a vital hub for the community over the last 45 years.
Born and raised in Bridgend, her career started at The Other Room in Cardiff as a Trainee Director, where she directed her first professional production, Constellation Street by Matthew Bulgo (co-directed with Dan Jones), which won Best Production in the English Language at the Wales Theatre Awards.
“We were thrilled with the breadth and depth of interest in the role of Artistic Director here at the Torch, though not surprised given how unique and special an opportunity it is to lead the artistic programme at one of Wales’ most precious artistic resources,” the theatre’s Executive Director Benjamin Lloyd said.
“There remain myriad challenges facing the Arts and as an organisation we are determined and committed to meeting them head on and continuing to support our artists and our communities into the future.
“We are equally thrilled therefore to have found in Chelsey, an Artistic Director with a vision and commitment that matches our ambition to innovate, inspire, create and engage in new, profound and exciting ways as we drive toward a more representative, equitable and sustainable future in the Arts, for the next generation in West Wales and beyond.”
Ms Gillard will officially start the role of Artistic Director in October, initially working alongside Peter Doran as he delivers his final season of work at the Torch.
The theatre is producing a bumper programme to mark the end of his tenure and the Torch’s 45th anniversary, with two productions at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Grav and Angel, plus a UK Tour of Angel in September and October.
Of Mice and Men is being staged in the autumn and the year wraps up with the annual Christmas Pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, which will be Mr Doran’s final show as Artistic Director.
He joined the company in 1998 as Artistic Director having been one of the original Torch Theatre Company members back in 1977 when it first opened.
Over his 25 years at the helm, he achieved critical acclaim as a director, winning several awards including Best Director at the Wales Theatre Awards for the bilingual production Belonging/Perthyn in 2017, and two Laurel Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for Grav and Oh Hello! in 2015.
He has been responsible for more than 70 productions over his 25 years at the helm and oversaw the £5.8million redevelopment of the Torch in 2008 which transformed the theatre into a multivenue arts centre for Pembrokeshire.
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