Artistic Director, Gemma Bodinetz announces departure from Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse

Posted on 8 July 2020
By Khyle Deen
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After 17 years as Artistic Director of the Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse theatres (E&P), Gemma Bodinetz today announced she will step down later this year.

During her successful tenure she helped contribute to Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture, built a Stirling Prize winning theatre for the city, produced a great deal of wonderful theatre including directing many productions that have delighted audiences here and across the UK.

Gemma re-invigorated Liverpool as a place of theatrical excellence. She has championed the work of Young Everyman & Playhouse, particularly inspiring many young women nto the industry and supported the growing work in communities across the city region.

On announcing her decision, Gemma said: “These have been an intense, passionate and extraordinary 17 years and I have been privileged to work with so many wonderful people in the best city in the world.

“However 17 years is a long time and every artistic organisation needs fresh thinking and new energy. Last year the theatres produced a new vision and business plan based on a commitment to create socially engaged, relevant theatre. This opportunity to listen and create a new forward looking plan with so many brilliant contributors is something of which I’m very proud. Covid19 hit before we could bring this vision to life.

“The pandemic and world events including of course the global response to the death of George Floyd has afforded the industry an opportunity for self reflection and I too have thought long and hard about my role and what I think the most exciting future for the theatres might be when we come through all of this.

“These are poignant and momentous times. After long and honest self-reflection I think now is the time for me to pass on the artistic leadership of the Everyman & Playhouse. I would be so proud if my ultimate legacy would be to help the theatres I love so much, engage with communities, audiences and artists with re-invigorated passion and fresh thinking.

“It was always my dream that the theatres would feel like a second home to all the people of Liverpool and I know that my successor, our staff and board will do all in their power to facilitate this.

“I can put my hand on heart and know that I have given my all to these beloved theatres but I can also imagine omeone taking them forward to an even more exciting place. I know Mark Da Vanzo, the staff and the board will. What’s more I know our new socially engaged vision and business plan will provide a great foundation stone for whoever follows me to take the theatres to new heights. That thought makes me very happy.

I won’t be going straight away – there’s still much to do through this enforced closure – but I feel the time is right to make my decision to move on. For my own future I look forward to carry on being part of the new dawn I feel coming for theatre of, by and for all.”

Andrea Nixon, Chair of LMTT spoke of the news: “On behalf of the board of trustees at LMTT, it is with a heavy heart that we both respect and have accepted Gemma’s decision. We would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to Gemma for her inspirational leadership in making the Everyman & Playhouse the brilliant theatres we know and love today. Gemma’s passion for creative collaboration shines physically through the Everyman as an award-winning building, and through the acclaimed and much loved productions she has herself directed, bringing joy and delight to audiences here, across the UK and beyond. It is matched by her belief in the ransformative power of theatre, inspiring the next generation of theatre makers and audiences through her work with Young Everyman Playhouse, LIPA and LJMU.

“Gemma has brilliantly championed these theatres and this city nationally and internationally and she leaves an extraordinary legacy with the theatres now on a firm financial footing with the new business plan. We wish much her joy as she looks to the future.”

CEO, Mark Da Vanzo added: “It’s a huge sadness that Gemma will be leaving us after such a creative and impactful tenure. Her energy and joy have been visible in all that she has done on and off our stages.

“I’d like to personally thank Gemma for her support and friendship as I have moved into the role of CEO, especially during the current challenging times resulting from COVID19.

“While I will miss her greatly, especially that she won’t be alongside us as we move into the next chapter with the new business plan she has been so instrumental in creating, we support and respect her decision as she passes the baton on over the coming months.”

In her 17 years with the Everyman & Playhouse, Gemma has directed 24 productions herself and produced over 70 world premieres, many by new Liverpool writers. Most notably her collaboration with Roger Mc Gough on a trilogy of Molières; winning the Amnesty Award for Freedom of Expression with Unprotected; closing the old Everyman with Macbeth and a triumphant re-opening with Twelfth Night; and the re-imagining of the Everyman Repertory Company which included huge success in refreshing musicals Fiddler on the Roof and Paint Your Wagon and casting the first female Othello in the World (for which she won UK Theatres Director of the Year Award and The Stages Innovation Award).

In addition to her awards as a director, the Everyman & Playhouse have won numerous awards including the Peter Brook Empty Space Award, World Architecture News Performing Spaces Award, a UK Theatre Award for promotion of Diversity, the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and most recently Merseyside Culture & Tourism Business of the Year and LCR Sustainability Award. In recognition of her work, Gemma has twice been Merseyside Woman of the Year, received the naugural Artistic Leader Award 2018 from Liverpool Hope University and is an honorary fellow at both Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool institute of Performing Arts.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “It is with great sadness that we hear of Gemma’s decision to step down. Gemma came to Liverpool in 2003 when the theatres were on their knees, and her dedication, commitment, passion and talent brought them back to life – artistically and physically with the rebuild of the Everyman.

“People like Gemma don’t just talk about things, they change things for the better. Her drive and ambition transformed our theatre sector, and she has been a key player in the cultural landscape of the city, becoming a true spokesperson for Liverpool. I wish her well on behalf of the city and we will never forget what you have achieved.”

The Board of LMTT are taking time to work with their funders, Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council to establish a succession plan.