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Royal Shakespeare Head Steps Down

April 24, 2002

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LONDON (AP) _ Royal Shakespeare Company chief Adrian Noble said Wednesday he was stepping down after more than a decade as artistic director of the prestigious national theater company.

Noble will leave when his contract expires at the end of March 2003. ``After 22 years with the company, it is now time for me to seek new artistic challenges,″ said Noble, 51, who joined the company as an assistant director in 1980.

There has been disquiet in recent months about reforms at the company, including plans to redevelop its base in Stratford-upon-Avon. Plans to demolish the theater there and expand it as a ``theater village″ have been criticized.

``I have been blessed with superb colleagues throughout the RSC, as well as highly supportive governing bodies. I look forward to continuing to deliver our ambitious program ... during my remaining year with the company,″ he said.

Noble’s departure from the RSC is the latest of several major changes in the British theater scene.

At the Royal National Theater, Trevor Nunn is to be replaced by Nicholas Hytner as artistic director in October 2002 after announcing he would not seek a second five-year term.

Michael Grandage was named in January as new artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, the studio-sized London theater that has acquired an international reputation during its 10 years under the leadership of Sam Mendes.

Lord Alexander, chairman of the company’s board of governors praised Noble’s contribution to the RSC.

``He is a most accomplished director of classical drama and his artistic leadership has brought new artists and audiences to our work _ maintaining the company’s radical edge in interpretation of classics and also in developing new work,″ Alexander said.

Noble is currently directing the West End hit ``Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.″

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