The David Berthold Era

David Berthold

Artistic Director and CEO 2008-2014

La Boite Board Chair Professor Paul Makeham paid tribute to David Berthold on the eve of his departure, describing him as “our extraordinary Artistic Director and CEO”.

David’s transformation of the Company was recognized with a Matilda Award in 2010 for his repositioning of La Boite Theatre Company, as well as for his direction of Hamlet and I Love You, Bro. Here is what Paul Makeham had to say about David in his Chair’s Report in 2014:

“Joining the company late in 2008, David has led La Boite through an exhilarating transformation. By any measure - artistic, financial and reputational - David’s term as AD / CEO has been outstandingly successful. In 2012, La Boite’s achievement in regaining Australia Council status as a Key Organisation (Emerging) status underscored the sense of transformation and renewal that has characterised the company’s profile under David’s leadership. The strength of our reputation was affirmed even more emphatically in 2013 with notification of Arts Queensland support for the 2014-16 triennium. Even to maintain our state-level funding on par with the preceding period is a remarkable outcome, given the pressure on government expenditure (including arts grants) in the current environment.

He moves on now to take up the reins of the Brisbane Festival, where we know his vision and leadership will be as highly prized as they have been at La Boite. We have plenty to celebrate and plenty to look forward to - including a suitably awesome send-off for David.”

Chair, Professor Paul Makeham

When David Berthold delivered his final Artistic Director’s Report on the previous year’s shows, he opened with a statement which very much summed up the artistic vision which he had so successfully enacted in his 6 years as La Boite’s Artistic Director and CEO.

Theatre is forever in the present tense. Even when events take place in the past, they present  themselves as happening now. In this way, theatre has a special relationship with time. As voiced in our artistic vision, La Boite aims to converse with the times - to unwrap the past and scrutinise the present as a means of expressing our aspirations for the future.

He continued:

“At this moment, as I write, I’m preparing for my departure from La Boite to take up the Artistic Directorship of Brisbane Festival. I leave with some natural sadness, but knowing that it’s the right time. I’m beginning my sixth year here now, and I think that’s about the right term for an artistic director, particularly in a company that has freshness at its heart. But I also leave genuinely happy that I’ve been able to make a difference. I arrived at a moment of crisis, when the company had

lost its Australia Council funding and was having trouble retaining an audience. We have recovered that funding and built an audience unique in Australia and the envy of many arts organisations. It’s an audience that is 40 or 50% under the age of 30 with the rest utterly young at heart and pretty much up for anything. That is very much in the enduring spirit of La Boite – alive to the present, curious, outward-looking, and not afraid to take a risk. There are still significant challenges ahead, but I trust that I have left my successor with good fuel for the journey.

There are many people to thank here. The La Boite Board is a team of passionate believers, led on my arrival by Kent Maddock and now by Paul Makeham. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the company of Nicole Lauder, Terese Casu and now the indefatigable Rhys Holden as General Managers – gifts to any artistic director – who have brilliantly led staff who drive forward with at times vertigo-inducing energy and commitment. Our growing donor and partnership family has been fully engaged, and I want to particularly acknowledge Arts Queensland and QUT Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake. AQ and QUT have been there through thick and thin, helping us to build bridges in good and not-so-good times. Any success La Boite enjoys now would not have been possible without them.

Finally, though, its artists and audiences. The artists who have created work here during my time have done so with a keen eye and full heart. They have embraced the challenge to speak in and about the contemporary world and to inhabit the Roundhouse in a way that keeps the relationship between actor and audience fluid and fun and quite unlike any I’ve experienced in any other theatre. I will miss this most special bond. So thank you to all for enabling all this to happen with such fullness and flavour. It’s been a blast.”

David Berthold Artistic Director and CEO

Succeeding David Berthold was Chris Kohn who came to La Boite after two years with the Queensland Theatre Company as its theatre diversity associate. Shortly after launching his 2015 La Boite Program he announced his resignation due to family circumstances. He stated: “It saddens me to be leaving La Boite after such a short time – it is an exceptional company with a hugely talented staff, fantastic board and wonderful history. I believe it is amongst the most vibrant and engaged theatre companies in Australia.” In 2015 he was succeeded by Todd MacDonald award winning actor, director and arts leader and formerly Queensland Theatre Company Artistic Associate.

Writer: Christine Comans


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