Theatre Royal Waterford has announced the departure of Ben Barnes after a fourteen-year tenure as Artistic Director.

Ben is leaving the Theatre Royal to concentrate on consolidating the work of Four Rivers, a new theatre company dedicated to serving audiences and artists in the South East region. 

A former Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre and the Opera Theatre Company and an internationally-acclaimed theatre and opera director whose productions have been seen all over the world, Ben’s signature achievement at the Theatre Royal was its extensive renovation and restoration, which he raised funds for and oversaw from 2007 to 2013. In recognition of this, Ben was made an Ambassador of the City of Waterford by Waterford City & County Council.

Along with the Theatre Royal team and Board of Directors, Ben has worked towards ensuring the theatre is on a solid footing with regards to key supporters, The Arts Council and Waterford City & County Council and has helped to position the theatre to move forward with confidence in the post-pandemic world.  

Directing highlights for the Theatre Royal include the new opera ‘The Invader’, by the late Eric Sweeney; O Neill’s ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten’, which subsequently toured to the US; Jim Nolan’s ‘Skyroad’; Bernard Farrell’s ‘Wallace, Balfe and Mr. Bunn’, which was commissioned for the re-opening of the theatre in 2014;  and revivals of ‘Eden’, ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’, ‘The Memory of Water’, Beckett’s ‘Footfalls’ and Krapp’s ‘Last Tape’. Ben was also responsible for devising the popular Shakespeare Review for schools across the region. Now in its second decade, the Shakespeare Review has become a template for similar ventures in other parts of the country.  

With his new production company, Four Rivers, Ben looks forward to bringing future productions to both the Theatre Royal and Garter Lane in Waterford. He will put a final programme in place at Theatre Royal for Quarter 1 2022 and will officially leave his position on March 31st, 2022.

Chair of the Theatre Royal Board, Anne Marie Caulfield said: “Ben has made a very significant contribution to the Theatre Royal during his tenure as Artistic Director. The role that Ben played in the stunning refurbishment of the iconic Theatre Royal building and the numerous productions he brought to the Theatre Royal stage, many of which received international acclaim, have been important in enhancing the cultural life of both Waterford City and South East region. I wish to thank Ben sincerely for his wonderful contribution to the Theatre Royal over the past 14 years.  His vision of a regional production company that would serve audiences and artists in the region comes to life in Four Rivers Theatre Company and we wish him every success with this new venture. We look forward with anticipation to welcoming Ben and his company to the Theatre Royal stage for many years to come.”