John McGrath (artistic director)

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John McGrath
John Edward McGrath

(1962-09-05) 5 September 1962 (age 56)
Alma materNew York University Graduate School of Arts and Science
OccupationArtistic Director and Chief Executive of the Manchester International Festival
Notable work
The Passion (passion play), directed by and starring Michael Sheen
Awards2005 Cultural Leadership Award, NESTA
2015 Honorary Doctorate, Open University
Thesis After privacy: surveillance culture and performative space. (1999) ISBN 9780599472839

John Edward McGrath (born 5 September 1962) is a British artistic director and chief executive of Manchester International Festival.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

John Edward McGrath was born 5 September 1962 in Mold, North Wales[3][4] and grew up in Liverpool.[5][6]


McGrath gained his Ph.D. from the New York University Graduate School of Arts and Science in 1999.[7]


As a development officer McGrath founded Arts Integrated Merseyside (AIM), a disability arts organisation based in Liverpool, which later became DaDaFest.[8][9] He also worked as a theatre director in New York, including working as an associate director for Mabou Mines.[10]

He then became the artistic director of the Contact Theatre in Manchester (1999-2008) and the founding artistic director at National Theatre Wales (NTW) (2009 - end of 2015).[11][12] During his time at the NTW the actor Michael Sheen starred in and was creative director of The Passion, a 72-hour secular passion play staged in Sheen's hometown of Port Talbot, Wales with over 1,000 local residents taking part.[13]

It Gets Better Project[edit]

In 2013 McGrath was interviewed alongside a number of other theatre practitioners in Wales for the It Gets Better Project. The project was set up in response to the suicides of teenagers who were bullied because they were gay or because their peers suspected that they were gay. In the video he states, "I knew that I didn't quite fit in with the right way to be a boy...If you can find ways to be strong and to ask for help when you need help, then people are out there to help you. ... Don't worry also if you don't fit into the new 'profit pattern' of what it is to be gay, there are places and spaces to be a bit different, even from that."[14]




  1. ^ Hutchison, David (13 May 2015). "National Theatre Wales founder John McGrath named new head of Manchester International Festival". The Stage. The Stage Media Company Limited. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  2. ^ Confidentials, The (13 May 2015). "Manchester International Festival Announce New CEO". Manchester Confidential. Confidential Direct. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  3. ^ "McGrath, John E. (John Edward), 1962-". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2 August 2015. pub. info. (John Edward McGrath; b. Sept. 5, 1962; Contact Theatre, Manchester, UK)
  4. ^ Price, Karen (13 May 2015). "National Theatre Wales' founding artistic director John McGrath to leave the company after seven years". WalesOnline. Media Wales Ltd. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  5. ^ Gardner, Lyn (5 November 2009). "National Theatre of Wales: by the people, for the people". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  6. ^ Price, Tim (19 May 2015). "Some words on John E. McGrath". Wales Arts Review. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  7. ^ McGrath, John E. (1999). After privacy: surveillance culture and performative space (Ph.D.). OCLC 476972941. ISBN 9780599472839 ProQuest.
  8. ^ "Disability Arts Chronology   1976 - 1989: (1986)". Disability Arts Online. 16 January 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  9. ^ "Interview: Under the Skin with John McGrath". DaDaFest. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  10. ^ a b c "John McGrath to leave NTW in 2016". Culture Colony Quarterly (CCQ) Magazine. Culture Colony Quarterly Magazine Ltd. 13 May 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  11. ^ Brown, Mark (13 May 2015). "National Theatre Wales artistic director John McGrath departs for Manchester festival job". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  12. ^ Stubbs, Susie (13 May 2015). "John McGrath announced as artistic director of MIF – and he's coming home". Creative Tourist. Creative Tourist Ltd. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  13. ^ "Michael Sheen's Port Talbot Passion play 'crucifixion'". BBC news. 24 April 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  14. ^ Various theatre practitioners in Wales including John McGrath (6 December 2013). It Gets Better by Theatre Practitioners in Wales (YouTube). Make More Films. 20 seconds in, 03:10 minutes in and 3:56 minutes in. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  15. ^ Rob Humphreys, (Director, the Open University in Wales), John McGrath (Recipient) (17 June 2015). Cardiff degree ceremony, Friday 12 June 14:30 (YouTube). ouLife on YouTube. 48:50 minutes in. Retrieved 9 August 2015.

External links[edit]