Exit, stage right: Queensland Theatre rocked by sudden departure of Lee Lewis

The changing of the guard in the Queensland arts landscape continues with the shock resignation of Queensland Theatre artistic director Lee Lewis.

Mar 18, 2024, updated Mar 18, 2024
Queensland Theatre's artistic director Lee Lewis has resigned, departing the company at the end of March.

Queensland Theatre's artistic director Lee Lewis has resigned, departing the company at the end of March.

She has received a hammering from elements in the arts community hostile to outsiders but Queensland Theatre artistic director Lee Lewis has stuck it out. Until now.

After four years at the helm of the state theatre company, Queensland Theatre announces the departure of Lewis at the end of March.

Lewis took up the leadership role for the company in 2019. Her artistic leadership, award-winning creative work and significant progress for the state-wide arts company reaped rewards, including nominations for 53 Matilda Awards, winning 11 of these including two for Best Main Stage Productions.

“I’ve made this decision to step down as artistic director of Queensland Theatre with a certain sadness, but with the best interests of the company in mind,” Lewis says “After carrying the weight of leadership for this extraordinary company for four years, through the hardest time in history, I feel it is best for new energy to inspire artists and audiences alike.

“I feel great pride that I leave at the beginning of a season that promises a diversity of experience that is thrilling, ambitious and inviting. This year, Queensland Theatre works are touring the country, partnering with organisations large and small to expand capacity, and will reach more young people than ever before, so I know it has the people and purpose it needs to continue to reach great heights in the years to come.”

Lewis’s tenure has been a difficult one and she has had to deal with floods, the pandemic and a concerted campaign by some actors and activists who resented an outsider (she’s from Sydney) and her use of actors from all over Australia rather than just Queensland.

Lewis kept her cool while under attack and showed that she’s tough and resilient. The company is off to a great start this year with the national touring production Gaslight starting in Brisbane.

Queensland Theatre executive director Criena Gehrke will support the company’s three associate artistic directors for the artistic oversight of the remainder of the 2024 season and continuing development of the 2025 season. The artistic associate team is Daniel Evans (Programming), Isaac Drandic (First Nations) and Fiona MacDonald (Education and Youth).

The 2024 season features POTUS, which will see Lewis return to the Queensland Theatre stage as a director. In the meantime, the Board of Queensland Theatre will be recruiting a new artistic director for the company. Queensland Theatre chair Elizabeth Jameson has thanked Lewis for her contribution and commitment to the company.

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