Bill Alexander (director)

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For other people of the same name, see William Paterson.
For other people named Bill Alexander, see William Alexander.

William "Bill" Alexander Paterson (born in Hunstanton, 23 February 1948)[1] is an award-winning British theatre director.

Alexander has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was artistic director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre between 1992 and 2002. His production of The Snowman is performed in London's West End every year.

Father William Paterson. Mother Rosemary Paterson (née McCormack). Married to Juliet Alexander (née Juliet Harmer). They have two daughters, Jess and Lola, and two grandchildren, Vinny and Thea.


  • St. Lawrence College, Ramsgate, Kent
  • Keele University (1969–1973)

Early career[edit]

In 1974 Alexander worked at the Bristol Old Vic as a trainee director. There he directed:

  • Butley by Simon Grey,
  • How The Other Half Loves by Alan Ayckbourn,
  • Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare,
  • The Ride Across Lake Constance by Peter Handke,
  • Old Times by Harold Pinter

In 1975 he joined The Royal Court Theatre as an assistant director. His production of Class Enemy by Nigel Williams won the Binky Beaumont Award for Best New Director.

The Royal Shakespeare Company[edit]

In his first year (1977) Alexander worked as assistant to Trevor Nunn and John Barton. His initial work for the company was in the two studio theatres: The Warehouse in London (primarily devoted to new plays) and The Other Place in Stratford (dedicated to a mixture of new plays and the re-discovery of classics by performing them on a small scale). Over his 14 years at the RSC Alexander did many productions in both of these theatres, and also at The Pit (which replaced The Warehouse when the RSC moved to the Barbican).

Studio productions include:

  • Factory Birds by James Robson (Warehouse)
  • Captain Swing by Peter Whelan (TOP)
  • Tartuffe by Molière (PIT)
  • Volpone by Ben Jonson (TOP and PIT)
  • The Accrington Pals by Peter Whelan (Warehouse)
  • Cymbeline by William Shakespeare (TOP and PIT) with Harriet Walters as Imogene.

Alexander's first production on the RSC main stage was Richard III (with Antony Sher as Richard) in 1984. Subsequent productions include:

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor ( for which he won the Laurence Olivier Award for Director of the Year in 1986).
  • A Midsummer Nights Dream
  • Twelfth Night
  • The Merchant of Venice (with Antony Sher as Shylock)
  • Cymbeline
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Titus Andronicus
  • King Lear (with Corin Redgrave as Lear)

Birmingham Repertory Theatre[edit]

Alexander left the RSC to become Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1992. Representative productions there include:

  • Othello
  • Macbeth (with James Purefoy)
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Hamlet
  • Twelfth Night
  • The Tempest
  • The Alchemist (later transferred to the National Theatre)
  • Divine Right by Peter Whelan
  • Old Times by Harold Pinter
  • Nativity by Peter Whelan
  • Absurd Person Singular by Alan Ayckbourn
  • The Servant by Robin Maugham
  • The Way of the World by William Congreve
  • Frozen by Bryony Lavery (later transferred to the National Theatre)
  • The Snowman adapted from the book by Raymond Briggs (The Snowman has now been running every Christmas in the West End of London for the last 20 years.)

Freelance career[edit]

Since leaving the Rep Alexander's freelance work has included:

  • Mappa Mundi (National Theatre)
  • Betrayal (Cameri Theatre, Tel Aviv)
  • Anna Christie (Cameri Theatre, Tel Aviv)
  • Romeo and Juliet (Victory Theatre, New York)
  • Troilus and Cressida (Shakespeare Theatre, Washington)
  • Henry the Fourth Parts 1 and 2 (Shakespeare Theatre, Washington)
  • Othello (The Northwest Classical Theatre Company, Portland, Oregon)
  • Enemy of the People (Theatre Clwyd, Wales)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest (Northampton)
  • Glamour (Nottingham Playhouse)
  • The School of Night (Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles)
  • Bette & Joan (Arts Theatre London, UK National Tour)[2]


  1. ^ Ian Herbert, ed. (1981). "ALEXANDER, Bill". Who's Who in the Theatre 1. Gale Research Company. p. 10. ISSN 0083-9833. 
  2. ^ Trowbridge, Simon (2010). The Company : a biographical dictionary of the Royal Shakespeare Company (2nd ed.,rev., updated, and expanded. ed.). Oxford: Editions Albert Creed. ISBN 978-0955983023. 

External links[edit]