In September 2004, Kerry Michael, a second-generation Greek Cypriot and an associate director of the theatre, became the new artistic director of Theatre Royal Stratford East. His goal as artistic director was to uphold the theatre's commitment to develop new work and to provide a platform for those voices underrepresented in the ever-changing communities of the East End of London.
His debut play as artistic director was The Battle of Green Lanes by Cosh Omar. Set amongst London's Cypriot community, it provided an early example of Kerry's commitment to those unheard voices.
Kerry continued Philip Hedley’s Musical Theatre Initiative by encouraging the development of new musicals. He directed the hit musical Come Dancing, co-written by Ray Davies. He also directed The Harder They Come, which obtained wide critical acclaim, transferring to the Barbican and the West End and touring internationally.
The theatre started working with bestselling novelist Martina Cole, adapting three of her plays for the stage: Two Women in 2010, The Graft in 2011, and Dangerous Lady in 2012.
In 2007, the theatre was nominated for the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, both for Boy Blue Entertainment’s Pied Piper and for ‘presenting a powerful season of provocative work that reaches new audiences’. Pied Piper won the Olivier. In 2008, Kerry followed up with another Olivier Award-nominated production: Cinderella, which was the first panto ever to be nominated for an Olivier Award. Roadkill, a site-specific show from autumn 2011, won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre in 2012.
In 2008, Kerry led a consortium partnership to pilot the International Festival for Emerging Artists (IFEA), which saw 48 emerging artists from all over the world come together in Stratford to collaborate on new work.
In 2009, the theatre launched Open Stage, a landmark initiative which asked the audience what they’d like to see on stage. Open Stage led the theatre to open its doors to all who wanted to be involved, from sharing programming ideas to volunteering to work on a production. The resulting programme took place over the first six months of 2012 and the building is frequently filled with the familiar faces of its volunteers, who continue their relationship with the theatre.
As the landscape around it changed following the 2012 Games, Theatre Royal Stratford East continued to showcase work inspired by its local community as well as the world today.