Dominic Cooke

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dominic Cooke

Born1966 (age 56–57)
  • Director
  • writer
PartnerAlexi Kaye Campbell

Dominic Cooke CBE (born 1966) is an English director and writer.

Early life[edit]

Born in Wimbledon, south London, Cooke was brought up seeing a lot of theatre as a teenager from free theatre tickets provided by the Inner London Education Authority.


Soon after graduating from Warwick University, Cooke's first job as a TV runner led him to start his own theatre company, Pan Optic, which he ran for two years before becoming an assistant director at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

He started his relationship with the Royal Court Theatre under Stephen Daldry in 1995. He then became an associate director at the Royal Court for Ian Rickson in 1999 during which time he directed Fireface by Marius von Mayenburg, Other People by Christopher Shinn and Redundant by Leo Butler. In 2003 he left the Royal Court and returned to the RSC for Michael Boyd where he directed his acclaimed version of The Crucible starring Iain Glen which won him the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director; the play also won the Olivier for Best Revival.

He has won five Olivier Awards. In addition to Best Director and Best Revival for The Crucible in 2007, he won Best Revival for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottomin 2016, Best Musical Revival for Follies in 2018 and in 2013 his final season in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court won Achievement In An Affiliate Theatre.

In 2013 he won the International Theatre Institute Award for Excellence in International Theatre and in the same year was awarded Honorary Doctorate of Letters by his alma mater, Warwick University. Cooke was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to drama.[1]

Royal Court[edit]

Cooke was artistic director and Chief Executive of the Royal Court Theatre 2006 to 2013 during which time he pioneered new writing by actively promoting the Royal Court's Young Writers’ Programme and new, young writers such as Mike Bartlett (My Child), Polly Stenham (That Face), Penelope Skinner (The Village Bike) and Bola Agbaje (the Olivier Award-winning Gone Too Far!).[2][3]

During his tenure at the Royal Court Cooke staged Jez Butterworth’s multi-award winning Jerusalem which was directed by Ian Rickson and which transferred to the West End, Broadway, and San Francisco; Lucy Prebble’s 2009 Enron which was directed by Rupert Goold; and Bruce NorrisClybourne Park which Cooke directed himself. All three were transferred to the West End amid critical acclaim and box office success.

Cooke's time at the Royal Court was deemed a huge success;[2] he staged numerous new plays and refocused the aims of the theatre. Of the 130+ plays, 94 were full productions of new plays, with public readings and productions of old plays making up the number. The theatre was nominated for 210 major awards and won 59. Cooke was also credited with bringing a new dynamism and excitement to the Royal Court Theatre with his eclectic programming: "What makes Cooke’s reign unique is that he has used the Royal Court’s young writers programme as a way of finding and cultivating new talent, often by precariously young writers...for Cooke, if a play was good enough, that was enough: he would put it on…Polly Stenham’s ‘That Face’, staged when she was only 19, bowled over its audiences. Anya Reiss was younger still – 18 – when her assured debut ‘Spur of the Moment’ opened. Bola Agbaje won an Olivier with her first play ‘Gone Too Far!’"[2]


In 2007 Cooke wrote the stage adaptation of Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses, which he directed and produced at the RSC. He wrote an adaptation of Arabian Nights for the Young Vic in 1998 and directed a revised version for the RSC in 2009. With scriptwriter Ben Power, Cooke co-wrote the scripts for Shakespeare's Henry VI Parts 1 and 2 for BBC TV's The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (May 2016).

National Theatre[edit]

Cooke is a National Theatre Associate Director; he made his directing debut there in November 2011 with Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors which he set in modern-day London. The cast included Lenny Henry and Claudie Blakley and was broadcast worldwide in March 2012 as part of the NT Live programme. Cooke directed Caryl Churchill's Here We Go at the National in 2015. He directed the critically acclaimed production of August Wilson's Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in 2016 which won the 2015 Olivier Award for Best Revival.[4][5] His 2017 production of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's Follies starring Imelda Staunton, Janie Dee and Tracie Bennett was nominated for ten Olivier Awards,[6] winning Best Musical Revival.[7][circular reference] Cooke received the Critics' Circle Best Director Award.[8]


Cooke's TV directorial debut was in May 2016 with the second BBC TV series of The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses. The series was televised in three parts: Henry VI, Part 1, Henry VI, Part 2, and Richard III. The series was produced by Sam Mendes' company, Neal Street Productions, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Sophie Okonedo, Tom Sturridge, and Hugh Bonneville.


Cooke's feature directorial debut, On Chesil Beach starring Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 7 September 2017. It is based on the novel of the same name by Booker Prize winning novelist Ian McEwan. The film received wide release in 2018 and was chosen by Variety as one of the ten best films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2017.[9][10] His latest film The Courier starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan and Jessie Buckley, premiered at Sundance in January 2020.[11] It was released in the US by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.[12] He is slated to direct a movie of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman's musical Follies.[13]

Private life[edit]

Cooke's civil partner is the actor and playwright Alexi Kaye Campbell.[3] They have been together since 1997.

Cooke is Jewish.[14]



Year Play Production Notes
2017 Follies by Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman Royal National Theatre starring Imelda Staunton, Tracie Bennett, Philip Quast, Janie Dee, Dame Josephine Barstow, Nominated Evening Standard Award Best Director, Winner Critic's Circle Theatre Award Best Director, Nominated for 10 Laurence Olivier Awards including Best Director & winning Best Musical Revival[15]
2016 Pigs And Dogs by Caryl Churchill Royal Court Theatre
2016 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by August Wilson Royal National Theatre Winner Best Revival Laurence Olivier Awards , Nominated Best Director Evening Standard Awards
2015 Here We Go by Caryl Churchill Royal National Theatre
2015 Teddy Ferrara by Christopher Shinn Donmar Warehouse
2013 The Low Road by Bruce Norris Royal Court Theatre
2013 In The Republic of Happiness by Martin Crimp Royal Court Theatre
2012 Ding Dong The Wicked by Caryl Churchill Royal Court Theatre
2012 Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney Royal Court Theatre
2012 In Basildon by David Eldridge Royal Court Theatre
2011 Chicken Soup with Barley by Arnold Wesker Royal Court Theatre nominated Best Director Evening Standard Award
2011 The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare Royal National Theatre
2010 Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris Royal Court Theatre transferred to Wyndham's Theatre Nominated Best Director Evening Standard Award and Laurence Olivier Award Won South Bank Show Award,
won best New Play Evening Standard Award and Critics' Circle Theatre Award, Laurence Olivier Award
2009 Aunt Dan and Lemon by Wallace Shawn Royal Court Theatre
2009 The Fever by Wallace Shawn Royal Court Theatre
2009 Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill Royal Court Theatre
2008 Wig Out! by Tarell Alvin McCraney Royal Court Theatre
2008 Noughts and Crosses based on the book by Malorie Blackman RSC
2008 Now Or Later by Christopher Shinn Royal Court Theatre South Bank Show Award Nomination
2007 Rhinoceros by Eugène Ionesco Royal Court Theatre
2007 The Pain and the Itch by Bruce Norris Royal Court Theatre
2006 The Crucible by Arthur Miller RSC Cooke won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director and for Best Revival in 2007, it also was the first play to be given 6 stars by Time Out
2006 Pericles by William Shakespeare RSC
2006 The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare RSC
2005 As You Like It by William Shakespeare RSC WhatsOnStage Award for Best Shakespeare Production
2005 Postcards from America by David Adjmi RSC
2005 The Magic Flute Welsh National Opera
2004 Macbeth by William Shakespeare RSC
2004 By Bog of Cats by Marina Carr Wyndham's Theatre
2003 Cymbeline by William Shakespeare RSC
2003 The Eccentricities of a Nightingale by Tennessee Williams Dublin Gate
2003 La Boheme Grange Park Opera
2002 Plasticine by Vassily Sigarev Royal Court Theatre Evening Standard Theatre Awards Nomination for Best Director
2002 The People Are Friendly by Michael Wynne Royal Court Theatre
2002 Caryl Churchill Events;This is a Chair and Identical Twins Royal Court Theatre This is a Chair was co-directed with Ian Rickson
2002 The Malcontent by John Marston RSC
2001 Spinning into Butter by Rebecca Gilman Royal Court Theatre
2001 Redundant by Leo Butler Royal Court Theatre
2001 Fucking Games by Grae Cleugh Royal Court Theatre
2001 I Capuleti E I Monetecchi Grange Park Opera
2000 Other People by Christopher Shinn Royal Court Theatre
2000 Fireface by Marius von Mayenburg Royal Court Theatre
1998 Arabian Nights The Young Vic Later had a UK and world tour, was staged at the New Victory Theater in New York and won the TMA Award
1998 The Bullet by Joe Penhall Donmar Warehouse
1997 The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde Atlantic Theatre Festival
1997 My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley Oxford Stage Company it then transferred to the Young Vic
1996 The Weavers by Gerhart Hauptmann The Gate
1995 Hunting Scenes From Lower Bavaria by Martin Sperr The Gate
Afore Night Come, Entertaining Mr Sloane Clwyd
Caravan National Theatre of Norway
Kiss of the Spider Woman Bolton Octagon
Of Mice and Men Nottingham Playhouse
1991 Autogeddon by Heathcote Williams Assembly Rooms Fringe First Award


Year Title Role Ref
2017 On Chesil Beach director [16]
2020 The Courier director, executive producer [17]


Year Title Role Notes Ref
2016 The Hollow Crown director 3 episodes [18]

Awards and nominations[edit]


Year Award Category Work Result
2017 Critics’ Circle Theatre Award[19] Best Director Follies Won


  1. ^ "No. 60728". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2013. p. 8.
  2. ^ a b c Kellaway, Kate. "Royal Court theatre prepares to bid farewell to King Dominic" The Guardian, 10 March 2013
  3. ^ a b Costa, Maddy. "'Shakespeare was daring - why aren't new writers?'" The Guardian, 23 February 2006
  4. ^ Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, retrieved 13 June 2019
  5. ^ "Reviews Round Up", retrieved 13, 2019
  6. ^ "Olivier Awards 2018: The nominations in full". Archived from the original on 28 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  7. ^ Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival
  8. ^ "Dominic Cooke | Critics' Circle Theatre Awards".
  9. ^ "Best Movies" Variety, 2017
  10. ^ Thomas, Lou (18 May 2018). "Adapting Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach: 'My advice would be don't worry about having sex tonight'". British Film Institute. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  11. ^ "The Courier". IMDb. 19 March 2021.
  12. ^ "Roadside Attractions, Lionsgate Nab Benedict Cumberbatch's 'Ironbark' Out of Sundance". 27 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Dominic Cooke to adapt Stephen Sondheim's Follies for the big screen".
  14. ^ "Visionary behind the shock of the Young Vic - The Jewish Chronicle". Archived from the original on 7 November 2021.
  15. ^ "Hamilton receives record number of Olivier nominations". BBC News. 6 March 2018.
  16. ^ "On Chesil Beach (2018)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 23 May 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  17. ^ Prokopy, Steve (23 March 2021). "Interview: Filmmaker Dominic Cooke on Re-Teaming with Benedict Cumberbatch on The Courier, Patriotism and Making an Emotional Spy Movie". Third Coast Review. Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Directing and producing Shakespeare's The Hollow Crown: War of the Roses". BBC Academy. 7 September 2016. Archived from the original on 4 July 2021. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  19. ^ "2017 Results | Critics' Circle Theatre Awards". 31 January 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2020.

External links[edit]