Controversial director is surprise choice to take over at the Globe

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The Independent Culture

An outspoken and maverick director best known for championing new British plays is to take over the running of Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London.

An outspoken and maverick director best known for championing new British plays is to take over the running of Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London.

Dominic Dromgoole, who has led the Oxford Stage Company for seven years, will become only the second artistic director of the reconstructed Elizabethan venue when he replaces Mark Rylance at the end of the year.

Speaking about his new role yesterday, Mr Dromgoole said that although Shakespeare would remain the core work of the open-air theatre he hoped to present new writing and a wider range of European and British classics.

"I will be trying to get some new work there if I can," he told The Independent. "It will be nice to test modern work against the classical repertoire. And I think you could probably go for a slightly broader collection of works from the classical repertoire."

But he insisted he had always loved the Bard, even though he has rarely directed his plays. "Shakespeare's always been my passion. I've been a writing a book for Penguin about growing up with Shakespeare and having him right in the centre of my life and my theatre.

"He's always pretty well informed everything I've done professionally so it doesn't seem to me such an extraordinary thing."

The appointment of Mr Dromgoole, an ebullient and outspoken figure, was met with surprise by theatre-lovers. Some had thought Edward Hall, son of the Royal Shakespeare Company founder Peter, was favourite while another contender was Declan Donnellan of Cheek by Jowl.

Mr Dromgoole, a Cambridge English graduate, is the son of the director Patrick Dromgoole. He caused controversy five years ago when he published The Full Room, a set of essays demolishing the reputations of many contemporary playwrights.

Mr Dromgoole first came to public attention at the Bush Theatre in London where he backed young writers such as Jonathan Harvey and Conor McPherson before joining the Old Vic to work on new plays for Peter Hall. Under his management, the Oxford Stage Company has become one of Britain's most important touring companies.

Terri Paddock, of the whatsonstage.com theatre website, said: "It's unexpected but not undeserved. He's very brave and combative and no-nonsense and just completely irreverent."

Peter Kyle, the Globe's chief executive, said: "I know Dominic to be a wholly committed man of the theatre, with a passion for Shakespeare and a strong desire to engage with ... what he has described as the 'maverick energy' of the Globe. We all look forward to Dominic's own maverick energy being brought to bear on our 2006 season which he begins programming immediately."

Mr Dromgoole, 41, said he was proud to be following Rylance, who made the Globe a working theatrical success story as opposed to the heritage tourist trap some had feared. The theatre, which opened in 1997, was a commercial success, he said, which had set high standards with an "aura of warmth and enchantment". "They have partly reinvented what people think theatres are and what people think theatres could be."

Although Mr Dromgoole is not steeped in Shakespeare, his reworkings of other classics suggest there could be exciting times ahead. Paul Taylor, The Independent's theatre critic, welcomed the appointment. "I think it's rather exhilarating news because it seems so counter-intuitive," he said. "But I think he will be good for the Globe. Mark Rylance is a terribly hard act to follow and not going for another actor-manager is possibly a wise move. He's bold and iconoclastic and a very good thing."

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