After four incredibly successful years at the helm, Artistic Director Sam Strong will leave Queensland Theatre in November, after achieving artistic and ticketing records and transforming the company through a new identity and a new theatre.
Queensland Theatre Chair Elizabeth Jameson said that after launching his fourth and final season in August – one which marks the 50th anniversary of the company – Strong will finish up in November. Jameson said after four years Sam had decided to relocate to Melbourne with his family, but would return to direct at least one show in 2020, and would remain forever a member of the Queensland Theatre family. “Over the past four years Sam Strong as Artistic Director has led the company to unprecedented success – a new name, a new theatre, all-time high audiences, 20-year subscriber highs, an inaugural principal partnership with RACQ and we have celebrated our highest selling new Australian play ever (Nearer the Gods, which Sam directed). In addition, we have taken the work of Queensland artists around Australia and the world like never before,” said Jameson. “Sam signed on for three years as Artistic Director and we have had the privilege of his talent for four, we could not be more proud of what he has achieved with the company. We are very sorry to see him leave.”
Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch said Sam Strong would leave a tremendous legacy at Queensland Theatre. “Sam will certainly be a hard act to follow but I am so pleased that he will return to Queensland next year as a guest director for this wonderful company,” Minister Enoch said.
Sam Strong said leading Queensland Theatre was and would remain a career highlight. “I’m not going on to another company. Leadership for me at this point in my life means being more available to my family,” Strong said. “I’m committed to supporting my wife Katherine Slattery who is taking up a position with Film Victoria. Katherine has always enabled my ambitions, and I’m looking forward to a period of supporting hers.”
“I’ve been privileged to experience Queensland Theatre shows from the 2000 seat Lyric Theatre in Sydney to a cultural centre on Thursday Island … I’ve been blessed to sit in the very first audience for the world premiere of more than ten new Australian stories, including ones by multiple First Nations playwrights and an Asian-Australian playwright and an Islamic-Australian playwright … I’ve been grateful to create theatre for the uniquely generous Queensland audience.” He said Queensland Theatre was truly a leader among theatre companies.”
The announcement comes as Queensland Theatre celebrates breaking even more box-office targets, first for Death of a Salesman which opened in February, and secondly for the world premiere season of Sue Smith’s Hydra which opened on 14 March. “Under Sam’s leadership and the support of the Board and every staff member, Queensland Theatre has more than achieved its goal of leading the national conversation. We look forward to making sure Sam’s final six months are as successful as ever, and to launching our search for the new Artistic Director of this extraordinary company,” said Jameson.