After six years Artistic Director and CEO of Malthouse Theatre Michael Kantor today announced he will be leaving the company at the end of 2010 to pursue other opportunities and directing possibilities in a freelance capacity, as well as pursue interests outside the performing arts. He will continue to direct and program throughout 2010 before handing over to a new Artistic Director and CEO for 2011.
“I have been thrilled, and will continue to be thrilled until I finish at the end of 2010, to have been entrusted with the artistic leadership of this most special and important theatre company. I hope that the company’s ongoing viability and diversity of theatre of the last six years has been beneficial for the continuing evolution of Australian contemporary theatre, and that the artists and audiences that have engaged with the company throughout my tenure have enjoyed their experiences here. Theatre is the most malleable and mercurial of artistic forms, and needs to constantly reinvent itself to stay alive and relevant. My hope is that Malthouse does exactly that, while continuing to surprise and astound audiences with theatrical journeys in the dark that enliven the mind and enrich the imagination, both on its stages and as it takes work around Australia and to the world.”
In the middle of 2004 Michael commenced planning his first season for the company taking up the position of Artistic Director and CEO from January 2005, during which time he has steered the company from its origins as the Playbox Theatre Company to its current incarnation as Malthouse Theatre. As Artistic Director, he has introduced diverse and flexible programming models, new works and interpretations of existing texts to Melbourne audiences, mentorships and artists-in-residence programs, instigated the ‘Malthouse Greenlight’ project towards an ecological sustainability future for a professional theatre company, and toured Malthouse’s productions both nationally and internationally.
By the end of 2009 Michael with his executive team, will have overseen the world premiere of 36 new Australian works by Malthouse Theatre, contracted over 26 new commissions, and have presented Malthouse productions to over 250,000 patrons in Melbourne and many more audience members across 25 seasons in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane, Auckland, Vienna, Amsterdam, Kuala Lumpur, London, and Edinburgh. Most recently Michael’s production of Optimism has played to a sold out season at the 2009 Edinburgh International Festival, and will also tour in 2010 to the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Festival. His production of Happy Days will also tour to Sydney to Belvoir Street Theatre in October 2009.
Simon Westcott, Chair of the Malthouse Board says: 'Michael's contribution to the evolution of Malthouse Theatre cannot be overestimated. Over just five years he has positioned the company as one of the most innovative, energetic and collaborative in the country; he has breathed new life into a venue long recognised as the home of contemporary theatre in Australia. New and existing audiences have been flocking to our shows in record numbers, we're touring more than ever and have improved the Company’s balance sheet, cash reserves and long-term viability. At the heart of his achievement is a body of work of which Michael, the Malthouse board and his hugely talented team of collaborators can be immensely proud. You come to a Kantor show and smile, cry and lose your breath all in the same evening, often at once. We will greatly miss Michael's generosity, humanity, humour, intelligence and vision both on and off the stage at Malthouse Theatre'.
Malthouse Theatre will be looking to appoint a new Artistic Director by early 2010. The position will be advertised early October 2009. The appointment will commence work at some point in 2010 for the 2011 season.