War Horse man to take charge at West Yorkshire Playhouse

Robin Hawkes.
Robin Hawkes.
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A theatre producer who helped turn War Horse into a global hit will today be announced as the new man in charge of the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Robin Hawkes, who has been at London’s National Theatre for seven years will head north to take up the newly created role of executive director and joint chief executive.

The announcement is seen as something of a coup for the Quarry Hill theatre and will see the 32 year old working alongside the Playhouse’s current artistic director James Brining.

“I suppose I am young, but age isn’t everything,” said Hawkes, who is due to be in post in June. “I had dinner a couple of nights ago with Rodney Brookes, chairman of the Playhouse’s board who has had a long and distinguished career.

“We talked about what it meant to be a leader of an organisation in your thirties and he said, ‘You’ve got nothing to worry about - when I was your age I was running a 95,000-strong organisation’.”

During his time as a producer at the National Theatre, Hawkes took the stage adaptation of War Horse to the West End. The show, currently in its ninth incarnation, will open in Beijing later this year and has been a box office hit around the world.

Hawkes also played a key role in the launch of NT Live which broadcasts theatre productions direct to cinemas and worked on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time based on Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel, which was another major success for the National.

And while Hawkes went to school in Bedford and studied at King’s College London, with a wife from Alwoodley he already has strong links with Leeds.

“Over the past 12 years I’ve been to Leeds ...I can’t actually count the number of times. It really is my second home.”

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