Photo: Leah McGirr

Photo: Leah McGirr

A huge congratulations to Sam Strong for scoring the Artistic Directorship of Griffin Theatre, at the SBW Stables!

I struggled through the door of my apartment today with a wad of window envelopes from my mail box in my mouth, brief case in one hand, my keys in the other, mobile phone wedged in the gap between my ear and my shoulder. I was on a whimsical spontaneous phone call to my parentals who are in their beach-side town 8 hours drive north from here- as my mother asks me if I knew this “fellow”who got the job at Griffith… I am puzzled. I have just come from an OFF THE SHELF rehearsal- I am hungry. Tired. Listing the things I have to do today. “Griffin” she corrects herself. “No” I said. I hadn’t heard. My throat tightens. (I thought I was so in the loop- clearly not- my mother with a newspaper in a tiny north coast NSW town proves yet again she knows more than me). “Sam Strong?” She said, as though it was the weirdest name in the world. (which is funny when you consider her daughter’s name). My throat unclenches. “Awesome” I say… and it’s a genuine relief. “He’s a great guy.” After the phonecall I open my mail- a letter inside announcing his appointment. I check my email there’s an email from James Waites with the press release attached. “Cool” I think to myself as I relax… “Griffin is is safe, strong hands.”

I don’t know Strong personally- I wouldn’t know his star sign, or if he’s vegetarian or allergic to cat hair. We are not facebook friends- but I can say this for certain: He’s a really normal guy. He’s nice. I’d trust him with a new play, a new writer, a wad of cash and one of Australia’s best loved theatre companies. In my first year of Brand Spanking New (2008) he came to the launch (hence the above photo- look at my cheeky face! ) and it was just before his wedding- he had been made Belvoir’s literary manager. Since then we have been in foyers together- and he’s always been really congenial and present- especially for playwrights.

Most impressively he was the only artistic associate/ literary manager of a major company to turn up to the NOT the Premier’s literary awards last Monday night.

I wish Nick Marchand a fond farewell – as he heads for his new position at the British Council- as I have really enjoyed his contribution to the history of Griffin Theatre and his generosity towards me… Nick’s a really nice guy. And I look forward to Mr Strong’s season ahead.

For those into press releases- here it is:
MEDIA RELEASE – May 24, 2010


Griffin Theatre Company Chair Michael Bradley today announced that award-winning director and dramaturg Sam Strong has been appointed the new Artistic Director of Griffin Theatre Company. Strong, currently the Literary Associate at Company B Belvoir and director of its current hit The Power of Yes, replaces Nick Marchand who leaves next month after three and a half years to become Director of the British Council in Australia. It is an exciting time in Griffin’s history for Strong to join the company, with the company soon to renovate its iconic home at the SBW Stables Theatre.

Bradley said, “Sam’s appointment is a great moment for Griffin. Nick Marchand has laid the perfect platform for the company’s next big steps forward, combining the major renovation of the Stables Theatre with bold new developments in Griffin’s creative outreach, and Sam is the perfect champion to lead the charge. Griffin’s long history has been one of constant innovation, leadership and integrity, and Sam embodies those qualities. The entire company is very excited about the chapter that his artistic directorship will write.”

Nick Marchand agreed. “I am thrilled to pass on the baton to Sam as Griffin’s next Artistic Director. He has been a huge advocate for new writing at Red Stitch and Company B – and his passion for Griffin is clear to us all. With his unique directorial, dramaturgical and personal skills, and a fantastic team and Board to work with, I know he’ll lead the company to extraordinary new adventures.”
“It is a great honour and a great privilege to be the next Artistic Director of Griffin,” said Strong. “I am thrilled to be leading a Company with such a wonderful history and a unique reputation as a boutique powerhouse of new Australian writing. I admire what Nick has achieved in providing opportunities for artists and extending the reach of the Company. I can’t wait to work with the staff at Griffin to bring audiences the highest quality new Australian work from the highest quality Australian artists. I can’t wait to extend the theatre’s reputation as an exciting and vibrant hub for artists and audiences alike.”

Strong will commence with Griffin on 31st May and will co-curate the 2011 season with Nick Marchand.

Sam Strong is an award-winning director and dramaturg and has been the Literary Associate at Company B Belvoir since May 2008. Prior to that he established Red Stitch Writers, a playwriting residency at Red Stitch Actors Theatre in Melbourne (through which he developed and directed Tom Holloway’s Red Sky Morning). His production of Red Sky Morning was nominated for six Green Room Awards including Best Production, Best Ensemble and Best Direction. It won the Green Room Award for Best New Writing for the Australian stage and will tour nationally in 2010. Sam’s directing credits include David Hare’s The Power of Yes (playing at Company B Belvoir until 30 May 2010); Madagascar(Melbourne Theatre Company); Faces in the Crowd (Red Stitch); Thom Pain (based on nothing)(Arts Radar/ B Sharp); Red Sky Morning (Red Stitch/Full Tilt); Shedding (La Mama); Dogs Barking (Rubber Dog); Ashes to Ashes (fortyfivedownstairs); The Example (Fairfax Theatre); Not I/The Stronger (Pilot Theatre); Miss Julie (VCA); and Closer (The Storeroom). As assistant director, Sam’s credits include Ruben Guthrie (Company B Belvoir); Old Times (Sydney Theatre Company); and Enlightenment (Melbourne Theatre Company). As a dramaturg and script editor/assessor Sam has worked for PlayWriting Australia, Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre, Australian Theatre for Young People, The Australian Writers’ Guild, Bell Shakespeare Minds Eye, Windmill, Red Stitch and La Mama. Sam is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts Director’s Course and the University of Melbourne and has been admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor in the Supreme Court of Victoria.