New Earth Theatre today announces the appointment of Ailin Conant as the company’s new Artistic Director who will officially take up the post later this month. New Earth Theatre is the foremost British East and South East Asian (BESEA) theatre company in the UK and has for the last 12 years, under the helm of outgoing Artistic Director Kumiko Mendl, pioneered new productions, outreach activities and initiatives which discover and champion BESEA artists and communities.
The company’s most recent stage productions include the world premières of WORTH, a darkly comic drama exploring immigration and family secrets by Joanne Lau; and The Apology by Kyo Choi, a powerful human story that asks how a nation can apologise for the crimes of its past; both developed through New Earth’s Professional Writer’s Programme.
Commenting on her appointment as the new Artistic Director, Ailin Conant said: “It is an incredible honour to be appointed as Artistic Director of New Earth Theatre. Under Kumiko’s leadership, New Earth has forged lasting pathways into the industry for BESEA artists for over a decade. The fact that we are seeing inspiring BESEA creatives and stories on some of our nation’s biggest stages is a testament to Kumiko and her legacy.
I am thrilled to be joining Lian Wilkinson in leading the company through the next critical chapter. In recent years our industry has become better networked and more self-aware, and New Earth has been a pioneer in this period both onstage and off. I am excited and determined to build on this work to develop authentic and reciprocal partnerships which drive change for all underrepresented groups, while elevating BESEA artists, companies, and aesthetics within the UK theatre ecology.”
Current Artistic Director, Kumiko Mendl, added: “I am delighted that Ailin has been appointed my successor as Artistic Director of New Earth Theatre. Ailin will be a powerful asset and advocate for the BESEA sector, and I know she will bring her many talents, passion, commitment, creativity and experience to the company and the role it plays in our theatre ecology. I can’t wait to see the next chapter in New Earth’s story unfold under her leadership.”
Wai Mun Yoon, Chair of New Earth Theatre, said: “We are thrilled to appoint Ailin Conant to lead New Earth Theatre into its next phase. Her track record of critically acclaimed work exploring societally relevant themes guarantees that our theatre company remains relevant and captivating to diverse audiences. She brings fresh perspectives and a hands-on collaborative spirit that will ensure New Earth continues to cultivate an environment of engagement with other artistic institutions and community groups, strengthening the ties between our theatre and the broader UK cultural landscape.”
Ailin Conant is a Japanese-American director now based in London. As a freelance director, she has directed for New Earth’s Typhoon Festival, and has also worked for the RSC, The Royal Court, Bush Theatre, Theatre503, Kansas City Rep (USA), Ayyam Al-Masrah (Gaza), Clown Me In (Lebanon), and The Catalyst (Switzerland). Ailin is currently the Associate Director on My Neighbour Totoro with the RSC and Improbable.
She is also the founding Artistic Director of Theatre Témoin, a company creating visually compelling and socially urgent works of new theatre. With Témoin, she has directed commissions from organisations including The Lowry, Cheltenham Everyman, and Without Walls, as well as productions in Rwanda, Israel, Kashmir, Lebanon, France, and the USA. As a twice-migrant and dual-heritage nomad, Ailin is passionate about cross-cultural and intercultural creative exchange. She is a board member of SDUK and Projekt Europa, and is passionate about working towards a more representative and equitable industry.
With support from the Paul Hamlyn and Esmee Fairbairn Foundations alongside their NPO funding, New Earth will continue to run and build on its national flagship Academy and Academy Plus programmes; offering free courses in performance, writing and off stage, with scratch nights and performances by new self-led creative artist collectives that have formed from the academies. Work under New Earth’s associateships with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama will also continue to develop.