Jonathan Holloway (playwright)

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Jonathan Holloway (born 1955 in Dulwich, South London) is an English theatre director and playwright.

Early life[edit]

Born in Dulwich, South London in 1955, Jonathan Holloway became a prominent figure (as director and founder of two professional companies) in British fringe and touring theatre in the 1980s and 1990s. His work has won three consecutive Edinburgh Fringe First awards (1987, 1988, 1989), the Shakespeare prize at Chile's World Festival of Theatre (1993) and in 2013 his BBC version of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four won a First Prize at the Prix Italia.

At 16, a chance opportunity had taken him to the Edinburgh Fringe as part of the Oxford University Players; a group with whom he had no formal association but who needed a competent actor at very short notice.

Early career[edit]

Holloway graduated in 1977 and went to work at London's Royal Court Theatre, initially as technical manager of its studio space, The Theatre Upstairs. After a few months he also became an Assistant Director working in the Main House, and directed his own production in the Theatre Upstairs. In the summer of 1978 Holloway left the Royal Court and began touring as a performer with the community arts outfit, Free form Arts Trust Ltd. After a year of performing in shows Holloway left, took a temporary teaching job and started a new theatre company with a group of like-minded artists. This was The East End Theatre group based at Chat's Palace Arts Centre in Homerton, E London.

Mature career[edit]

In 1982 Holloway (in collaboration with designer Charlotte Humpston) founded a group called 'Red Shift Theatre Company'. Beginning as a shoestring outfit (initially considered by Almeida Theatre founder Pierre Audi to become his resident company), Red Shift was built into a national and international touring company which soon became both artistically influential and a linchpin of UK national touring provision. Holloway has directed all but one of Red Shift's over 50 shows and has written the lion's share of the company's work.[citation needed] By 2009 Red Shift had given over 3000 performances; sold over 250000 tickets; driven 50000 miles; flown 35000 miles.[citation needed] Holloway's freelance directing has included The Playboy of the Western World in Ireland, Le Misanthrope in Boston, USA and advising on the 2008 Gifford's Circus show Caravan.

In Sept 2007 Holloway withdrew Red Shift from Arts Council RFO status to pursue new styles of theatre making. He was briefly Head of Performing Arts at Middlesex University and has taught at St Mary's University College, Royal Holloway University of London, was Artist in Residence at Central School of Speech and Drama and Artistic Associate at Kingston University. Holloway acted as associate artist to Giffords Circus for their 2008 show Caravan. Since then he has concentrated on developing a series of crowd embedded open air performances at festivals, working under the title 'The Invisible Show'. He has also redirected his artistic career, concentrating on writing original plays for theatre and broadcasting. His back catalogue is presented by other theatre producers with increasing frequency.[citation needed]

As a playwright[edit]

Scripts for Red Shift include The Double, In The Image of the Beast (Edinburgh Fringe First, 1987), The Hammer (also recorded for BBC Radio 3), Death in Venice, Crime And Punishment (also produced in Chile), Les Misérables (pub. Samuel French, recently in rep in Hong Kong), The Aspern Papers, Nosferatu The Visitor, Nicholas Nickleby, The Man Who Was Thursday, the first stage versions of The Third Man, Get Carter, and Vertigo. His freelance theatre writing includes Darkness Falls for the Palace Theatre Watford, Because It's There (2000), Angels Among The Trees (2004) And A Sensible World (2005), all for Nottingham Playhouse.

Holloway has also written radio drama. His writing for the BBC includes fifteen episodes of the original fifteen-minute daily serial Postcards, a five episode series celebrating the cult TV show The Man From Uncle, adaptations of stories by George Eliot, Willa Cather, Walter de la Mare, Evelyn Waugh, Heinrich Boll, Leo Tolstoy and Andrew Motion, as well as Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One, Olivia Manning's Levant Trilogy, Goethe's Faust and Samuel Johnson's The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia.[citation needed]


Holloway served two years (2012–2014) on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Participants' Council. He has traveled to South America to lead EU sponsored workshops, was an elected member of the Board of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Advisory Panel of the National Campaign for the Arts, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and in 2005 he was made an Honorary Fellow of St Mary's University, Twickenham.

He is regularly invited to talk about his work in universities and colleges, and has travelled to America, S America and the Far East to do so. Broadcasting includes guest appearances on BBC Radio 4's A Good Read and sharing the bill with artist Grayson Perry on a feature about the Arthur Mee Children's Encyclopaedia.