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Declan Donnellan

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Declan Michael Martin Donnellan OBE (born 4 August 1953)[1] is an English film/stage director and author. He co-founded the Cheek by Jowl theatre company with Nick Ormerod in 1981. In addition to his Cheek by Jowl productions, Donnellan has made theatre, opera and ballet with a variety of companies across the world. In 1992, he received an honorary degree from the University of Warwick and in 2004 he was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his work in France.[2] In 2010, he was made an honorary fellow of Goldsmiths' College, University of London. Donnellan was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to theatre.[3]


Donnellan[4] was born in Manchester and grew up in Ealing, London. He was educated at St Benedict's School, Ealing and Queens' College, Cambridge, where he read English and Law. After leaving Cambridge, he was called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1978.

He founded Cheek by Jowl with Nick Ormerod in 1981.[5] Since 2006 the company has been part of the Barbican's International Theatre Program (BITE) resulting in co-productions of The Changeling (2006), Cymbeline (2007) and Troilus and Cressida (2008).[5][6][7] He has directed plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the English National Opera, the Old Vic and the Bolshoi Ballet, among others.

For the Royal Shakespeare Company he has directed The School for Scandal, King Lear (Academy 2002) and an adaptation of Great Expectations (2005) with Nick Ormerod. The cast of Great Expectations included Gwendoline Christie and Sian Phillips.[8] He has also directed Le Cid for the Avignon Festival, Falstaff for the Salzburg Festival and the ballet of Romeo and Juliet for the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Other work in Russia includes The Winter's Tale for the Maly Drama Theatre of Saint Petersburg.[9]

In 1989, Donnellan was made Associate Director of the Royal National Theatre in London where his productions have included Fuenteovejuna, The Mandate and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1993)[10] The cast of Sweeny Todd included Alun Armstrong, Adrian Lester and Julia McKenzie.[11] In 1993 Donnellan directed both parts of Angels in America, after having previously directed the play’s first part Millennium Approaches at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre in 1991. In 1993 the play’s second part, Perestroika, received its London debut at the National Theatre and was played in repertory with Millennium Approaches, starring Daniel Craig and Jason Isaacs.[12]

In 2000 he formed a company of actors in Moscow, under the auspices of The Chekhov Festival, whose productions include Boris Godunov, Twelfth Night and Three Sisters. He wrote a play, Lady Betty, which was performed by Cheek by Jowl in 1989. He has also adapted Don't Fool with Love by Alfred de Musset, Antigone by Sophocles, The Mandate by Nikolai Erdman and Masquerade by Mikhail Lermontov. First published in Russian in 2001, Donnellan's book, The Actor and the Target, was published in English in 2002 (reprinted 2005), and has since appeared in 15 languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, German, Romanian and Mandarin.[13]

He directed the 1992 short The Big Fish which starred Fiona Shaw. He directed the 2012 film Bel Ami, an adaption of the Maupassant novel; the film starred Robert Patinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci and Colm Meaney.[14]

Donnellan has won awards in London, Paris, New York and Moscow, including Laurence Olivier Awards for:

In February 2004 he was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his work in France, and in 2009 he shared the Charlemagne award with Craig Venter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

In 2014, Donnellan directed the stage play of Shakespeare in Love (play) at the Noël Coward Theatre.[16] The play was adapted for stage by Lee Hall (playwright) from the screenplay by Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman and produced by Disney Theatrical Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions.[16] The production was designed by Donnellan’s co-Artistic Director of Cheek by Jowl theatre company, Nick Ormerod. The original cast included David Oakes as Christopher Marlowe, Paul Chahidi as Philip Henslowe and Anna Carteret as Elizabeth I. From January 2015, the cast included Eve Ponsonby as Viola de Lesseps, Orlando James as William Shakespeare and Suzanne Burden as Elizabeth I of England. Peter Moreton, who played Antigonus and the Old Shepherd in Cheek by Jowl’s The Winter’s Tale in 2015, played Richard Burbage in Shakespeare in Love, and Ryan Donaldson, who played Autolycus in the Cheek by Jowl’s The Winter’s Tale, played Edward Alleyn. Eve Ponsonby, Orlando James, Suzanne Burden and Peter Moreton had all previously worked with Cheek by Jowl in Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Eve Ponsonby played Annabella and Orlando James played her brother Giovanni in the 2014 revival. Suzanne Burden played Hippolita in 2011-2012, alongside Peter Moreton, who played the Cardinal and the Doctor.

In 2016, Donnellan won the Golden Lion of Venice for lifetime achievement in theatre at the Venice Biennale.[17]

Stage productions[edit]

Cheek by Jowl[edit]



  • Donnellan, D. The Actor and the Target (English edition) Nick Hern Books, London, 2002 (ISBN 1-85459-127-4)
  • Approaching the Millennium: Essays on Angels in America, eds. Deborah R. Geis and Steven F. Kruger University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1997 (ISBN 0-472-09623-0)
  • Reade, Simon. Cheek by Jowl: Ten Years of Celebration, Oberon Books (hardback) 1991 (ISBN 0-948230-47-9) – currently out of print
  • Irvin, Polly. Directing the Stage, RotoVision, Hove, 2003 (ISBN 2-88046-661-X)
  • In Contact With the Gods?, Directors Talk Theatre, eds. Maria M. Delgado & Paul Heritage, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1996 (ISBN 0-7190-4763-3)
  • National Theatre Platform Papers No. 2 on Angels in America, National Theatre Publications Department
  • National Theatre Platform Papers, Declan Donnellan Talks About his Book, The Actor and the Target, National Theatre Publications Department, London, 24 January 2003
  • On Directing, eds. Mary Luckhurst and Gabriella Giannachi, Faber, London 1999 (ISBN 0-571-19149-5)
  • Albricker, Vinícius. "A fala cênica sob o entrelaçamento dos princípios e procedimentos de Konstantin Stanislávski e Declan Donnellan., Belo Horizonte: Masters dissertation (Mestrado em Arte e Tecnologia da Imagem) – Escola de Belas Artes, Federal University of Minas Gerais, 2014.
  • Albricker, Vinícius. Variações rítmicas vivas na atuação cênica. Orientador: Ernani de Castro Maletta. 2019. Tese (Doutorado em Artes) – Escola de Belas Artes, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte Federal University of Minas Gerais, 2019. Disponível em: https://repositorio.ufmg.br/handle/1843/30684

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Declan Donnellan biography". filmreference.com. 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2008.
  2. ^ Declan Donnellan Archived 16 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine at Cheek by Jowl
  3. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B11.
  4. ^ Civil registration event: Birth
    Name: DONNELLAN, Michael D M
    Registration district: Manchester
    County: Lancashire
    Year of registration: 1953
    Quarter of registration: Jul–Aug–Sep
    Volume no: 10E
    Page no: 205
  5. ^ a b "As he likes it", profile of Donnellan by Michael Coveney, The Guardian, 4 February 2006
  6. ^ Cymbeline, review by Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide, 2007
  7. ^ Review of Troilus and Cressida by Michael Billington, The Guardian, 29 May 2009
  8. ^ "Cheek by Jowl Website: Previous Productions". information. London: Cheek by Jowl Theatre Company. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  9. ^ The Winter's Tale Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, production details, Maly Drama Theatre, Saint Petersburg
  10. ^ "National Theatre Website: Archive". information. London: National Theatre. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  11. ^ "Theatricalia database". information. London: Theatricalia. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Theatricalia database". information. London: Theatricalia. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Declan Donnellan is a citizen of the world" by Emma-Kate Symons, The Australian, 31 December 2011 (subscription required)
  14. ^ Bel Ami review by Nigel Andrews, Financial Times, 8 March 2012
  15. ^ Olivier Winners 1995 Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Society of London Theatre
  16. ^ a b "Cheek by Jowl Declan Donnellan". information. London: Cheek by Jowl. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Cheek by Jowl news". information. London: Cheek by Jowl. Retrieved 24 October 2017.

External links[edit]