Royal & Derngate, Northampton, has just announced the appointment of Jesse Jones as its new Artistic Director. In an exciting period of renewal for the venue, the theatre has also appointed to a new role, Deputy CEO (Producing and Programming), which sees Holly Gladwell join Jesse and Chief Executive Jo Gordon, as part of the leadership team.
Jesse is a founding member of the multi-award-winning company, The Wardrobe Ensemble. He has been Associate Artistic Director at Paines Plough and first worked with Royal & Derngate in 2015 when joining as Resident Assistant Director supported by a Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme bursary. In 2011 Jesse founded the Wardrobe Theatre where he was Co-Artistic Director until 2015 and is currently a trustee of Shoreditch Town Hall.
The new role of Deputy Chief Executive will combine providing executive producing support in realising the venue’s artistic ambitions, with strategic oversight of its received and cinema programmes, which together welcome more than 300,000 audience members to Royal & Derngate each year.
Holly Gladwell has worked in Theatre for 20 years, most recently as Executive Producer for English Touring Theatre and Paines Plough, and before that worked with Rifco Theatre Company and at the Royal Court Theatre. She trained as a Stage Manager at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and subsequently stage-managed productions in London, on tour in the UK and internationally, for a whole variety of companies including the Young Vic, Old Vic, Royal Court and the BBC.
Simon Antrobus, Chair of Trustees of Royal & Derngate, commented: “We met some inspiring individuals in an extremely competitive recruitment process but were especially struck by Jesse’s commitment to making theatre accessible for all. His desire to both entertain and empower Northamptonshire’s communities, to develop and support artists, and to work to improve chances for all children and young people shone through. All these attributes, along with Holly’s extensive experience, will help us to deliver on our existing plans and develop exciting new ones. I look forward to working with Jo Gordon, our Chief Executive, to support them both to do so”.
Jesse Jones said this of his appointment: “I am filled with excitement and pride to be joining the team leading Royal & Derngate into its next phase. My connection with this wonderful organisation began when I first arrived as resident assistant director almost a decade ago on a Regional Theatre Young Directors Bursary. To now be returning in this capacity means the world to me.
One of my first memories of R&D is standing on the balcony in the foyer looking out at the building filling with patrons arriving for shows in all three auditoriums. Youth theatre members were congregating for sessions and the community choir singing to celebrate the first night of a show. Close to 2000 people would have come through the doors that night and it was obvious the massive possibility, responsibility, and potential the organisation holds.
I cannot wait to take up position alongside Holly and Jo this summer. I’m excited to help throw the doors of this special place open ever wider, working alongside artists from right across the UK and further afield and inviting people from all over Northamptonshire and beyond to come together to play, sing, dance, dream – I’m looking forward to finding our voice together.”
Holly Gladwell added: “All of my roles to date have encompassed the producing and development of new, diverse voices for the stage, ensuring brilliant and inspiring work reaches audiences in every corner of the UK. I can’t think of a better place to continue this work, and combine with Jo and Jesse to help Royal & Derngate cement its role as an engine room of world-class theatre.”
James Dacre, who leaves as Artistic Director next month, added, “Jesse and Holly are innovative, dynamic, generous and compassionate leaders who have shown a profound commitment to championing artists, engaging communities and furthering the civic and artistic role of regional theatres during their careers. I’m excited to see how they advance the journey of these very special theatres.”
Jesse and Holly will take up their new posts at Royal & Derngate in Summer 2023.