Kully leaving Cast to join National Theatre Wales

Kully Thiarai is leaving Cast in Doncaster to join National Theatre Wales. Picture: Alex & Janet Durasow
Kully Thiarai is leaving Cast in Doncaster to join National Theatre Wales. Picture: Alex & Janet Durasow

Kully Thiarai, the founding artistic director of Doncaster’s Cast is stepping down from her role to become the new chief executive of National Theatre Wales, Wales’s English-language national theatre.

During her time at cast, Kully has been credited with both putting Doncaster firmly on the UK’s cultural map since the £22 million venue was opened in 2013 with more than 200,000 people going through its doors since opening.

In her time as artistic director, Kully has made a number of achievements, directing new work for the venue, including a sell out run Barry Hines’ Kes, creating a new brand of pantomime for the town with three productions being seen by almost 60,000 people in total, and directing Ezra Khan and Inder Goldfinger in United Colours of FrustrAsian which toured nationally (a co-production with Black Country Touring, Oldham Coliseum and Southbank Centre).

She has also managed to ensure high profile companies are a mainstay of Cast’s artistic programme - from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing free concerts for 1,200 school children, to Northern Ballet premiering their new work in the space, including a highlight in this year’s calendar with the world premiere of the new ballet Jane Eyre in May.

Sadler’s Wells’ Breakin’ Convention featured in the venue’s opening season and is set to return this year, while Frantic Assembly have performed Othello.

At National Theatre Wales, she will be replacing John McGrath, who is leaving to take up a post at Manchester International Festival.

Kully said: “I am thrilled to be joining National Theatre Wales.

“I have been hugely inspired by the range and diversity of work that has taken place at the venue over the last five years under John McGrath’s leadership.

“A wonderful artistic mapping of Wales and its people, extraordinary work that is daring, provocative and joyous, found in surprising places across the country.

“I intend to build on this legacy by ensuring that National Theatre Wales continues to be original, radical and relevant.

“Many people and organisations have contributed brilliantly to making the company such a national and international success, and I look forward to working with them all.”

“I have enjoyed three-and-a-half extraordinary years in Doncaster setting up and launching Cast.

“It has been a privilege to be the founding director of a brand new performance venue in the town, and I want to extend my thanks to all those who have joined in on that journey as collaborators, audience members and supporters.

“I do believe that the foundations are well laid.

“Cast has successfully challenged many of the naysayers and shown that live performance along with a strong artistic vision is both welcomed by audiences and necessary for Doncaster and its future ambitions.”

Andy Carver, chairman of the Board of Trustees, Cast added: “Kully being offered such a hugely prestigious national role is testimony to the fantastic success, and great reputation she has achieved for Cast.

“She will be greatly missed, but the board of Cast now look forward to appointing a successor who will build on these strong foundations and cement Cast’s role as a great cultural venue at the heart of Doncaster’s community.”