Theatre director looks to bow out

Bury Theatre Royal has announced that the curtain is coming down on Colin Blumenau’s tenure as artistic director.

Colin, who has guided the fortunes of the Georgian playhouse for the past 15 years and has masterminded a �5.3million restoration, has said that the time has come to look for new artistic challenges.

“Fifteen years is a very long time to be in one place and there comes a time when every theatre needs to rejuvenate and refresh itself and now seems as good a time as any.”

Although Colin will no longer be part of the management team, he will continue to be closely associated with Bury St Edmunds’ playhouse.

He said that he would not be leaving until the end of July and even then it would be “adieu rather than goodbye”. He will be directing a new production of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, which will be staged in September, before writing a new pantomime Rapunzel and the Rascal Prince for Christmas 2012.

Colin was appointed chief executive and artistic director in 1996 and immediately embarked on a major restoration and fundraising campaign – which involved the redesign of the theatre.

Many of the original Georgian features, which were either lost or disguised in the Victorian era or in the 1960s, were restored.

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The restoration was completed on time and on budget in 2007.

Colin’s other major contribution to the re-invigoration of the theatre was the introduction, in 1998, of in-house productions. The Theatre Royal not only started producing its own plays, but also sent them out on tour to mid-scale venues around the country.

This then led to Restoring The Repertoire – a project which not only resurrected long-forgotten Georgian texts, but also put them back on stage.

The process also unearthed Suffolk-born playwright Elizabeth Inchbald – who was born and raised in Stanningfield, outside Bury St Edmunds.

Colin staged three of her works and commissioned a play about her. A leading playwright of her day, Elizabeth Inchbald was even referenced by Jane Austen in Mansfield Park.

He added that the future of the Restoring the Repertoire programme would be a decision for his successor.

Simon Daykin, chief executive, said: “Colin has done a truly extraordinary job. Under his artistic leadership the theatre has grown enormously in stature and reputation.

“Taking any organisation through the highs and lows of the last 15 years is no mean feat, and in these straitened times of economic challenge, it is testimony to his drive and skill that the Theatre Royal audiences buck the trend and continue to grow.

“His commitment to bring quality to the stage, and to Bury St Edmunds, is deeply embedded in the organisation, giving us rock-solid foundations upon which to build. ”

Colin added: “I’ve had a fantastic 15 years here. For me, working at the Theatre Royal has been a truly life-defining experience. I will leave with some brilliant memories.

“I also owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all who have worked with me to make the Theatre Royal an exceptional and uniquely valuable part of the town, the region, and the nation’s theatrical landscape.”

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