Dee Evans, Colchester Mercury director, quits for personal reasons, after 14 years

Dee Evans, chief executive and artistic director at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre shocked colleagues yesterday when she announced she is making a clean break with the theatre after 14 years in charge.

Ms Evans, the architect behind such large-scale community plays as Depot, re-imagined Shakespeare productions and an array of classic revivals, said that she would be quitting her post after Christmas for purely personal reasons.

“I have been at the Mercury for 14 wonderful years and if you are running a theatre there is no time for anything else. It requires the most enormous commitment. You have no other life.

“After a while you get a little tired and it seemed to me that the time had come for a change.”

Having secured Arts Council funding for the next four years, she said that now was the perfect time to step away from the day-to-day running of a theatre to allow her successor time to build up to the next application period.

“Getting the National Portfolio status with the Arts Council was so important, and we are now at the point of starting to formulate plans for what happens after April 2012 and frankly if I became part of formulating those plans then I have got to see them through and I don’t want to do that.”

She said that she is leaving the theatre in very good shape and feels that it is the perfect time to allow her to do something different.

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“I have the offer to do some freelance directing which will help to keep the bills paid and I have a cottage in Wales where I shall disappear to and just work out what I want to do next.”

Dee said that she was particularly pleased to be leaving on a high having worked for several years pulling together the Plots International Festival which is to be held in Colchester between October 24-30.

“We are performing Captain Corelli’s Mandolin as part of the festival but we are also presenting three adventurous new works created and performed by artists from five different countries – Poland, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Italy. I was very pleased to have brought that to frutition – that is the culmination of many years of hard work and building relationships.

“We have always been an outward looking organisation. And also although I am perceived as the face of the Mercury, actually the Mercury is a fantastic team of people, a creative ensemble and it wouldn’t work without any of them. Thanks to them we have a wonderful reputation for staging classic and new plays and that’s the thing that I am really proud of.”

Dee will leave at the end of the year during the run of the pantomime Beauty and the Beast, having programmed the Spring 2012 season.