Dominic Cooke

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Dominic Cooke
Born 1966
Nationality British
Occupation Theatre director, playwright

Dominic Cooke CBE (born 1966) is an English theatre director and playwright.[1]

He won the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for best director for his revival of The Crucible while working at the RSC. He took over as the Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2006 and his tenure was widely hailed a success staging much new work and refocusing the aims of the theatre. Apart from being a successful director he has also adapted Malorie Blackman's novel, Noughts and Crosses, for stage and wrote a version of Arabian Nights.

Early life[edit]

Born in Wimbledon, Cooke's mother was an NHS receptionist who had once wanted to be an actress and his father a film editor. He was brought up seeing a lot of theatre as a teenager from free theatre tickets provided by London Education Authority. He studied at Warwick University. He moved into television after university with his first job being a runner.[2]


He started up his own theatre company Pan Optic[3] which he ran for two years before becoming an assistant director at the RSC in the 1990s and worked as a freelance director. He started writing at the Royal Court under Stephen Daldry in 1995 before becoming an associate director at the Royal Court for Ian Rickson in 1999. In 2003 he left the Court returning to the RSC for Michael Boyd where he directed his acclaimed version of The Crucible starring Iain Glen[4] which won him the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director. In 2013, he won the International Theatre Institute Award for Excellence in International Theatre. On 15 July 2013 he was awarded Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Warwick.

Cooke was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to drama.[5]

Royal Court[edit]

In 2006 Cooke became the Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre in London.[6] He came to Royal Court at a time where the theatre had been criticised for softening its political agenda and having 'lost its way'. Cooke promised to refocus the theatre and famously promised to stage plays that would

"explore what it means to be middle class, what it means to have power, and what it means to have wealth...plays seem to be about the dispossessed, which is important, but you can't really understand a world if you're only looking at one corner of it, and that kind of theatre is really just as reactionary in its way as the theatre pre-George Devine all french windows and all that."

As well as staging some successful revivals Cooke has also pioneered new writing promoting the Royal Court's Young Writers' Programme and writers such as Polly Stenham and Bola Agbaje have had their debut plays staged during his time. It was during his tenure that the massive successes of Jerusalem, Clybourne Park (directed by himself) and Enron were staged which both transferred to the West End.[citation needed]

Royal National Theatre[edit]

In November 2011 Cooke made his directing debut at the Royal National Theatre in London, with The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare. The play, with stage design by Bunny Christie, was set in modern-day London. The cast included Lenny Henry as Antipholus of Ephesus and Claudie Blakley as Adriana. The production was selected to be broadcast live to select cinemas worldwide in March 2012 as part of the National Theatre Live programme.


In 2007 he wrote the stage adaptation of Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses which he directed and produced at the RSC.[7] He wrote an adaptation of Arabian Nights for Young Vic in 1998. He directed a revised version for the RSC in 2009.[citation needed]

Private life[edit]

Cooke is openly gay. He has been with his partner, the actor and award-winning playwright Alexi Kaye Campbell since 1997.[8]


Year Play Production Notes
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 This 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 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 Malcontentby 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


  1. ^ "Dominic Cooke Biography". Contemporary Writers. British Council. 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2008. 
  2. ^ "Behind the scenes at the Royal Court: Dominic Cooke's year of living dangerously". The Guardian (London, UK). 3 January 2010. 
  3. ^ <
  4. ^ Costa, Maddy (20 April 2006). "Shakespeare was daring – why aren't new writers?". The Guardian (London, UK). 
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60728. p. 8. 31 December 2013.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Dominic Cooke

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