Michael Attenborough said: “My 11 years as Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre have been consistently thrilling and rewarding, but I have decided that, after running theatres for the past 32 years, I now want to concentrate solely on my directing. I would like to place on record my immense gratitude to the superb staff at the Almeida, all of whom have played an integral part in everything we have achieved. Whoever succeeds me will find themselves blessed with a wonderful and unique theatre space, a hugely loyal audience and a Board and Staff that are second to none.”
Christopher Rodrigues CBE, Chair, Almeida Theatre Board, said: “It has been a privilege for all of us to work with Michael Attenborough. He has taken the Almeida from strength to strength locally, nationally and internationally by presenting a truly diverse programme of work of which we are all immeasurably proud. He has also been the driving force behind Almeida Projects, an inspirational outreach programme for young people. Michael has established the Almeida as a powerhouse of British Theatre and secured its financial condition. We count ourselves immensely fortunate to have benefitted from his leadership for over a decade and wish him every success in his future directorial career. Our challenge now is to secure a worthy successor for one of the most exciting roles in British theatre”
Attenborough’s policy for the Almeida has been based on an eclectic programme that has included thirty two premieres including a body of work which tackled critical issues of our times, ten new versions of foreign plays, ten new plays for young people and four festivals.
Michael Attenborough’s own productions over the last eleven years as Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre are King Lear (which is running until 3 November 2012), Filumena, Reasons To Be Pretty, The Knot of the Heart, Through A Glass Darkly, Measure for Measure, When the Rain Stops Falling, In a Dark Dark House, The Homecoming, Awake and Sing!, Big White Fog, There Came A Gypsy Riding, Enemies, The Late Henry Moss, Brighton Rock, Five Gold Rings and The Mercy Seat.
Other notable Almeida productions include Festen, Hedda Gabler, The Goat, Duet for One, Waste, Rope, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Ruined, Becky Shaw and A Delicate Balance. Four productions have transferred to the West End and one to Broadway.
Audience figures have been consistently high during his 11 years, with productions frequently selling out and generating critical acclaim. Whilst the Almeida enjoys the support of a loyal audience, his programming has typically attracted an average of 38% new attendees to each production.
One of his most notable achievements has been the establishment on his arrival of a creative programme for young people – entitled Almeida Projects – which has developed and expanded year on year, culminating in the creation in 2008 of the Young Friends of the Almeida, with a current membership in excess of 500 young people.
Attenborough inherited a sizeable accumulated deficit, which has been eradicated. He leaves the theatre firmly in the black. A hallmark of his era has been the sustaining relationships he has established with the theatre's individual and corporate sponsors, in particular securing long-term sponsor Aspen as the company’s new Principal Partner for a multi-year term from July 2011, and retaining Coutts as a Production Sponsor following the conclusion of their Principal Sponsorship.
During his time at the Almeida Attenborough has been awarded two Honorary Doctorates - one from the University of Leicester and one from the University of Sussex where he is also Honorary Professor of English. In April 2012 he was presented with the Award for Excellence in International Theatre by the International Theatre Institute.