Actors

The quiet revolution of the actor-directors


More and more, theatre is dominated by directors. Writers put up the ideas, actors pull in the crowds, but it’s often a director that defines a show. We turn up to see the new Katie Mitchell, the latest John Tiffany, the next Ivo van Hove. Auteurs have taken charge.

There’s a quiet resistance under way, however, in the form of the actor-director. A role sometimes seen as part of theatre’s past — Laurence Olivier being the last of the great actor-managers — is making a comeback. Shakespeare’s Globe has appointed an actor as its new artistic director in Michelle Terry, while Kwame Kwei-Armah, an actor turned playwright and director, will succeed David Lan at the Young Vic later this year. It’s a model Barrie Rutter deployed at Northern Broadsides for 25 years. “When I first had the idea, it seemed messianic,” he remembers. “People thought I was mad.”

In fact, the actor-director is…



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