I realised I wanted to become a theatre director when I was about 17. I secured a place at art school, but 'sensibly' went to Cambridge instead, where I studied English under Margot Heinemann, among others.
I directed and designed (at least) fifteen student productions, including an award-winning Measure for Measure that transferred to the Almeida from the 1981 Edinburgh Festival. At Cambridge I worked with many people who are now household names.
In 1982 I was awarded an Arts Council Bursary at the Almeida for a year.
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
For most of the 1980s, I was Associate Director at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.
All my productions were of new plays from Scotland or abroad, and I directed a number of remarkable young actors, including Tilda Swinton, Ken Stott, Simon Russell Beale, Alan Cumming, Kate Duchene, Kathryn Hunter and Ewen Bremmer.
Six transferred to London: Michel Tremblay's Sandra/Manon (Donmar); Mario Vargas Llosa's Kathie and the Hippopotamus and White Rose (Almeida); John McKay's Dead Dad Dog (Royal Court); and the British premieres of two plays by Manfred Karge: the Time Out Award‐winning Man to Man and The Conquest of the South Pole (both to the Royal Court).
In the early 1990s, I was Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio, where my work included Marivaux’ The Lottery of Love; Goethe's Torquato Tasso (Cottesloe); the anonymous A Yorkshire Tragedy (Cottesloe); the British premiere of Peter Handke's The Long Way Round (Cottesloe); and a devised show for the under‐fives The Magic Carpet (Cottesloe and Olivier).
English Touring Theatre
In January 1993, I founded English Touring Theatre (ETT). My first production was Hamlet with Alan Cumming and Eleanor Bron, which transferred to the Donmar and received two Shakespeare Globe Nominations and a TMA Best Actor Award.
Subsequent productions included A Doll’s House (with Kelly Hunter); The Beaux’ Stratagem (with Deborah Findlay); As You Like It (TMA Best Actress, Kelly Hunter); The School for Wives; Macbeth (co‐production with the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith); Hedda Gabler (TMA Best Touring Production; Ian Charleson Award, Alexandra Gilbreath; also Donmar); Henry IV Parts One and Two with Timothy West and Samuel West (also Old Vic); The Seagull (Ian Charleson Award, Mark Bazeley; also Donmar); Marty Cruickshank's A Difficult Age; The Taming of the Shrew (with Kacey Ainsworth); Don Juan; The Master Builder (TMA Best Supporting Actress, Emma Cunniffe); The Cherry Orchard with Prunella Scales; Love’s Labour’s Lost; Ghosts (TMA Best Actress, Diana Quick; MEN Award) and King Lear (TMA Best Actor, Timothy West; MEN Award; also Old Vic).
Also John Gabriel Borkman (with Michael Pennington, Gillian Barge and Linda Bassett); Romeo and Juliet; Twelfth Night; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead; Hamlet (with Ed Stoppard and Anita Dobson, also West End); The Old Country (with Timothy West, Jean Marsh and Simon Williams, also West End); Brecht’s Mother Courage with Diana Quick; Someone Else’s Shoes by Drew Pautz (with Denise Gough, Soho Theatre) and The Changeling.
Other actors I directed at ETT include Cheryl Campbell, Emma Cunniffe, Daniel Evans, Michael Feast, Paterson Joseph, Gary Waldhorn and Marjorie Yates.
As Artistic Director I produced the world premieres of Jonathan Harvey’s Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club (Donmar and West End); Hushabye Mountain (Hampstead Theatre, directed by Paul Miller, with Andrew Lincoln); The York Realist (Royal Court and West End, written and directed by Peter Gill); French Without Tears (directed by Paul Miller); Richard Bean’s Honeymoon Suite (Royal Court, directed by Paul Miller); and Uncle Vanya (Rose, Kingston, directed by Peter Hall).
I maintained my connection with the NT Studio through the Cohen Foundation Training Director Scheme: Mick Gordon, Erica Whyman, Arlette George, Tim Stark, Bijan Sheibani, Lucy Kerbel and Jamie Harper. Other Assistant Directors include Thea Sharrock, Sascha Wares and Josie Rourke. I stepped down in April 2008 after fifteen years at the helm.
In 2013 I directed a new production of my own translation of Ibsen’s Ghosts to mark ETT’s 20th Anniversary.
Rose Theatre, Kingston
I was Artistic Director of the Rose Theatre in Kingston for six years from January 2008 until January 2014. I opened the theatre, with Peter Hall as Director Emeritus. Opening a large new theatre and securing its funding and developing its audience base was a huge but fascinating challenge.
My productions there included A Christmas Carol; The Winslow Boy (with Timothy West); Miss Julie; Treasure Island; Joe Penhall’s Dumb Show (with Sanjeev Bhaskar); Hay Fever (with Celia Imrie); As You Like It; The Importance of Being Earnest and the première of Harley Granville Barker’s Farewell to the Theatre (both with Jane Asher) and my translation of The Lady from the Sea (with Joely Richardson).
Also Pinero’s The Second Mrs Tanqueray (with Laura Michelle Kelly); The Vortex (with Kerry Fox, David Dawson and James Dreyfus); Peter Nichols’ A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (with Ralf Little, coproduction with Liverpool Playhouse) and Ghosts (coproduction with ETT).
I produced three productions directed by Peter Hall: Love’s Labour’s Lost; Bedroom Farce; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with Judi Dench); a new musical by George Stiles, The Three Musketeers; two family shows, The Snow Queen and Cinderella; and revivals of Michael Frayn’s Here and Richard Bean’s Smack Family Robinson.
Royal Court Theatre
I directed the British premiere of Klaus Pohl's Karate Billy Comes Home.
Theatre Royal Bath
I enjoy working at the Theatre Royal, Bath, where I've directed Peter Nichols’ Born in the Gardens (with Stephanie Cole); David Storey’s Home; Coward’s This Happy Breed (with Dean Lennox Kelly); Moon Tiger (with Jane Asher) and Present Laughter (with Samuel West and Phyllis Logan).
I've directed fifteen operas including Hanns Eisler and Bertolt Brecht’s The Decision (Almeida Music Festival & Radio 3); The Marriage of Figaro; Lucia di Lammermoor; Cosi Fan Tutte (Opera 80); Gianni Schicchi for ENO and Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
I've directed six productions at Garsington (Cosi fan Tutte; Albert Herring; Falstaff; Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail; Le Nozze di Figaro; and Don Giovanni) and three for Buxton Festival (Richard Strauss’s Intermezzo; Dvorak’s The Jacobin and Lucia di Lammermoor).
My most recent opera production is a double bill of Chabrier's A Wasted Education and Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Teiresias at the Royal College of Music.
I directed Measure for Measure and The Comedy of Errors in Graz, Austria; A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Century Theatre; Heinrich von Kleist's The Broken Jug at the Raamtheater in Antwerp and Macbeth in Bochum and Neuss.
In Britain I directed Look Back in Anger and Sternheim's Knickers! at the Bristol Old Vic; Our Country’s Good in Leicester; Arthur Miller’s The Price for Oxford Stage Company; and A View from the Bridge for the Touring Consortium.
I directed a second revival of Manfred Karge’s The Conquest of the South Pole at the Arcola.
I also directed the premiere of my own play, All Our Children, at the Jermyn Street Theatre.
My work has won many awards: three Edinburgh Fringe Firsts; a Time Out Award; six TMA Awards; two Ian Charleson Awards; several Manchester Evening News Awards; and Joint Winner of the 2003 Shakespeare Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Prize.
In 2010 the Rose was awarded the Best Contribution to the Community in the Kingston Business Awards.