‘Murray took us to a new level – it’s a sad time for the Theatre Royal Wakefield’

Murray Edwards is retiring as executive director of Wakefield Theatre Royal after 17 years in the job. (w625a503)

Murray Edwards is retiring as executive director of Wakefield Theatre Royal after 17 years in the job. (w625a503)

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The man at the helm of the city’s leading drama venue has decided to step down after 17 years in the job.

Murray Edwards has announced his retirement as executive director of Theatre Royal Wakefield.

During his time in the role, Mr Edwards helped bring in new opportunities for young people through the theatre’s Performance Academy.

He also developed a partnership with the John Godber Company which has seen the Theatre Royal stage national tours.

Mr Edwards, who will retire in September, said: “It has been an absolute privilege to work within such a vibrant and dynamic team and city.”

Mr Edwards’ retirement was announced as the Victorian theatre on Drury Lane, Wakefield, celebrates its 120th anniversary.

During his tenure Mr Edwards led the launch of the Performance Academy in 2011, an initiative which helped youngsters with its Youth Theatre Programme.

He said: “Wakefield has grown enormously as a cultural centre during my tenure and it has been incredibly exciting for the theatre to play a part in that growth.

“However, as the theatre prepares for its 120th anniversary celebrations, it seems a fitting time to hand over the baton. We have achieved so much with the theatre in what feels like such a short space of time, and I look forward to seeing this success continue.”

Sir Rodney Walker, life president of the theatre, said: “It is with thanks to Murray that we have seen the theatre’s fortunes and reputation strengthen over the last 17 years.

“He is well regarded for introducing young talent to the stage in West Yorkshire and his passion will be greatly missed.”

Chair of the trustees Dennis Gillibrand, added: “It’s a sad time for the theatre.

“Murray has taken us to a new level in leading our production and youth development capabilities, but he leaves a strong legacy to build on for his successor and I look forward to seeing what they will bring to the next stage of the theatre’s journey.”

Under Murray Edwards’ leadership, Theatre Royal Wakefield began a producing role for the John Godber Company in 2011.

The playwright had joined the Theatre Royal as creative director.

A tour of Godber’s Bouncers is currently being staged and the play is now on at the Everyman Threatre in Cheltenham