Royal Court Theatre announces David Byrne as Artistic Director

Published on Thu 20 Jul 2023

The Board of the Royal Court Theatre has today announced the appointment of David Byrne as Artistic Director.  

David Byrne is the founding Artistic Director and CEO of New Diorama, where his work as a writer, director and producer has established New Diorama as one of London’s most vibrant new work theatres.  

Under Byrne’s leadership, New Diorama has won many accolades including being named The Stage Fringe Theatre of the Year on multiple occasions. Earlier this year, the theatre won the inaugural Critic’s Circle Peter Brook Empty Space prize. New Diorama’s sell-out co-production with Nouveau Riche, FOR BLACK BOYS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE GETS HUE GETS TOO HEAVY, written by Ryan Calais Cameron, ran at the Royal Court in 2022 before transferring to the West End earlier this year. The New Diorama’s production of OPERATION MINCEMEAT, written and composed by SpitLip, followed FOR BLACK BOYS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE GETS HUE GETS TOO HEAVY into the West End this Spring, to widespread critical acclaim. 

Known for his innovative and ground-breaking approach to working with artists, Byrne has supported thousands of playwrights, theatre-makers and artists over the past decade. Launched in the wake of the COVID pandemic, one of David’s most recent projects, NDT Broadgate, has provided a revolutionary free rehearsal space for over 8,000 creatives. 

Byrne’s plays have been performed across the UK winning multiple Off-West End awards. His recent productions include a radical adaptation of George Orwell’s DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON, THE INCIDENT ROOM co-written with Olivia Hirst, and SECRET LIFE OF HUMANS, both played to sold out audiences at the Edinburgh Festival as well as in London, before off-Broadway and international transfers.  


Anthony Burton CBE, Chair of the Royal Court Theatre says “We are thrilled that David will be our next Artistic Director. As the founding Artistic Director of New Diorama, he has led it with huge success, nurturing and developing new writers and producing award winning work on international and national stages. He has a reputation for artistic excellence, creative disruption and innovation in artist support. We are very excited by the prospect of his leadership which will be fresh and surprising, whilst building on the groundbreaking legacy of his predecessor Vicky Featherstone.” 

David Byrne, incoming Artistic Director of the Royal Court says: “At its founding, George Devine imagined the Royal Court to be where ‘the experimentalists of the modern era could be seen’, often ‘in advance of public taste.’ For over a decade at New Diorama, I’ve embraced those ideals, seeking out and supporting the boldest and most exhilarating artists so that, together, we could re-write the theatre rule book. 

In this new role, I’m excited to continue working in service of the playwrights and artists raring to take big swings. Together, we’ll shape a rejuvenating culture from which the experimentalists of this new era are safe to take risks, can gamble like they’re never going to lose, and where audiences can glimpse the future of theatre, today. 

Becoming the Artistic Director of the Royal Court is an honour, a privilege, and is going to be the adventure of a lifetime. I can’t wait to get started.” 


David Byrne will take over from Vicky Featherstone at the start of 2024 when she steps down after a decade in the position. 

The appointment of the Artistic Director was made by a sub-committee of the Royal Court Board, who were advised by a number of writers and directors. It was observed by the Arts Council’s Director of Theatre and approved by the full Board of the Royal Court Theatre.


See here for the full press release.

Photo credit Tom Jamieson.