The Director of The Marlowe in Canterbury is retiring from his role after 23 years, it was announced today (Monday 3 July).

Mark Everett, 65, will leave the theatre at the end of October and admitted it will be a “wrench”, but added: “I believe my timing is right as with the many exciting developments facing The Marlowe, there is an excellent opportunity for someone new to take it into the next phase of its history."

Mark has led the venue since 1994 and during that time has seen The Marlowe transform itself into one of this country's most successful regional theatres.

One of the biggest milestones in his time in charge was Canterbury City Council’s major redevelopment of the theatre between 2009 and 2011, when it transformed from a 950-seat converted cinema into a 1,200-seat, purpose-built venue with the addition of a new space, The Marlowe Studio, dedicated to new writing and creative activity, and the best of small-scale touring theatre.

Since re-opening The Marlowe has achieved record sales results, attracting more than 400,000 people to its shows in 2016/17. Mark has been instrumental in attracting some of the country's finest companies to the Kent venue, including Glyndebourne Opera, the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Matthew Bourne's New Adventures.

The Marlowe is now one of the most popular regional venues for the major touring musicals and shows transferring from the West End, while the annual pantomime (produced with Evolution Productions) attracts audiences of more than 90,000. The theatre's Marlowe Friends scheme has grown to over 14,000 members.

The Marlowe has also developed a thriving creative programme, including a highly popular youth theatre, a large-scale annual community production, and an ambitious programme for schools. Since 2014, The Marlowe has also produced its own productions of new plays, some of which have transferred to leading new writing venues.

Looking back at his time leading The Marlowe, Mark said: "I have spent half my theatre career here, and there have been many extraordinary changes both at the venue, and in the cultural life and profile of Canterbury. I am very proud to have played a part in some of these and I am delighted that, as I leave The Marlowe, its local and national reputation has never been higher.

Canterbury City Council’s Chief Executive, Colin Carmichael, paid tribute to Mark, saying: “The council would like to thank Mark for the incredible work he has done over the last 23 years and for the role he has played in making our Marlowe one of the best regional theatres in the country. We wish him the very best for the future.”

Paula Gillespie will become the Acting Director of The Marlowe for the interim period following Mark's departure. She has been General Manager since 2008, and to ensure a seamless handover, will work closely with Mark across all aspects of the theatre between now and October.