JJ Almond – Director of Assembly Hall Theatre and Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery
Producer and Director, JJ Almond took up post in May 2016 as Director of Assembly Hall Theatre, later adding the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery to his role. Central to his early plans was to embark on the vital work to future-proof the theatre for coming generations. He is the theatre lead for a £42 million capital development project that will deliver a new theatre in the centre of the town.
As part of a strategy of audience development, JJ is introducing a more vibrant line-up on stage, focusing on popular theatre and musical touring productions, and high profile one-night events across the music and comedy genres, with the longer-term goal to introduce in-house producing from 2020/21. As part of this, he recently appointed seasoned theatre professional, Carole Winter, as the theatre’s first ever in-house producer.
A Creative Learning Department has been established, with the aim of putting community engagement at the heart of the organisation’s work, and as part of this JJ, and his team, are introducing a comprehensive education and outreach programme to increase youth participation.
Previously, JJ was instrumental in the early success of the newly opened Park Theatre in London. As the company’s Executive Director, he quickly established it as a key ‘Off West End’ venue, culminating in the theatre winning The Stage Award for Fringe Theatre of the Year 2015, and a Peter Brook Award within the first 18 months of operation. As the in-house producer, he oversaw nine productions during his tenure, including the world première of Oliver Cotton’s Daytona with Maureen Lipman and Harry Shearer – which later toured the UK and transferred to the West End; Intimate Apparel in a co-production with Theatre Royal Bath, which received both Olivier and Evening Standard Award nominations; the world premières of Sarah Rutherford’s Adult Supervision with Olivia Poulet and Susannah Doyle, and Larry Belling’s Stroke of Luck with Tim Pigott-Smith; and Hurling Rubble at the Moon/Hurling Rubble at the Sun by Avaes Mohammad in a co-production with Red Ladder Theatre Company.
Prior to his role at Park Theatre, JJ worked as a freelance director in venues across London and the UK – including at the Young Vic, National Theatre and Hampstead Theatre, and as an associate on a Broadway transfer. Previously Artistic Director of the Shaw Theatre (2009 – 2012), he was associate for Eartha Kitt, Dionne Warwick and Chita Rivera, as well as directing for the late Lynn Redgrave. He has also served as a Diploma and Degree Acting Tutor at The Urdang Academy, as well as roles at Off West End Theatres, Bridewell Theatre, Pleasance Theatre, Poole Arts Centre, Theatre Royal Plymouth and Barbican Theatre, Plymouth. This wealth of experience, as both a freelance and in-house practitioner at a variety of subsidised and commercial venues, brings invaluable insight to his current role, as he spearheads the capital campaign (should this just be “project”) to deliver a new theatre in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells.