Dromgoole named new a.d. at Shakespeare’s Globe

Surprise choice to succeed Rylance will start role in January

Dominic Dromgoole, the director who has doubled as theatrical commentator in such contentious books as “The Full Room,” was named Friday the new artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe. He will succeed Mark Rylance as the venue’s second-ever a.d., starting in January.

Dromgoole, the onetime artistic director of west London’s enterprising Bush Theater and head of the touring Oxford Stage Company for the last seven years, is a somewhat surprising choice for the job, being neither an actor-manager in the Rylance mode nor someone particularly known for his work in the classics.

Indeed, when Dromgoole joined Peter Hall in 1997 during Hall’s single-year occupancy of the Old Vic Theater, the younger director was put in charge of a new play series that included the London preems of such works as “Hurlyburly.”

Speculation had centered around people known primarily for their acting, such as Samuel West, who has since gone on to run Sheffield Theaters in Yorkshire, or even Zoe Wanamaker, daughter of the late Sam Wanamaker, who was the American visionary behind the inception of the Globe. Simon Russell Beale and even Kenneth Branagh were among the names bandied about.

In a statement, Globe chief executive Peter Kyle said: “I know Dominic to be a wholly committed man of the theater, with a passion for Shakespeare and a strong desire to engage with what he has described as ‘the maverick energy’ of the Globe.” The theater’s 2005 summer season kicked off this week with Rylance in a drastically pared-down version of “The Tempest,” which has received mixed reviews.

Dromgoole, 41, is currently represented on the West End by the starry revival of “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me,” with Jonny Lee Miller, Aidan Gillen, and David Threlfall. In print, he wrote in The Guardian newspaper recently of the relationship of theater people to critics. His advice to directors left reeling from bad reviews? “Get into fights,” he wrote. “If you get a bad review, write a vicious letter back to the critic.” His Globe regime should be a lively one.