Opened in 1744, and receiving its Royal Patent in 1769, York’s Theatre Royal is one of the oldest in the UK, alongside Bristol Old Vic, where Paul began his theatre career.
The son of a Methodist Minister, Paul first began producing plays at university in London. A rich and varied career followed which saw Paul working at Leeds Playhouse, RADA, Plymouth Theatre Royal, London Contemporary Dance Theatre, the Lowry and most recently as Artistic Director of the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Los Angeles. Paul was also a Trustee and member of the steering committee that oversaw the £13.3 million build of the new Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, which won the RIBA Stirling Prize, RIBA National Award and RIBA Northwest Award in 2014.
We caught up with Paul to chat over his new role and the accompanying responsibility of a large, complex historic building.
“My role is to work with our whole team, taking responsibility for the programme of work on stage and the fulfilment of all our activities and commitments with our varied communities and in alignment with our shared priorities with the Arts Council of England.
"At heart I’m a producer and I want to see our home-grown productions grow, as well as continuing to welcome touring companies. In this way offering as wide and diverse body of work to our audiences as possible, in an open, welcoming and accessible community space. And the welcome is so important, you can’t beat being on stage, but I love spending time in our unique front of house area; the big windows give us a direct connection to the street, the friendly café, a space to relax, combined with the mix of old and modern architecture.
“I also really like the way the more recent renovations to the main auditorium create a wonderful relationship between audience and performer, making for a better theatrical experience. I do think, however, that we need to focus efforts on the backstage areas and make them more accessible and fit for purpose for resident and visiting technicians and performers. In partnership with York Conservation Trust, I am now part of this building’s history and, together with my team, must also think about its future, not just the bricks and mortar, but all the people this theatre welcomes and sustains, to help ensure its life for many years to come.”