Kathryn Hunter

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Kathryn Hunter
Kathryn Hunter.jpg
Kathryn Hunter as Richard III at the Globe, 2003
Born9 April 1957 (1957-04-09) (age 63)[citation needed]
New York City, United States
OccupationActress, director

Aikaterini Hadjipateras[1][2][3] (born 9 April 1957), known professionally as Kathryn Hunter, is a British actress and theatre director.

Hunter was born in New York to Greek parents, but was raised in England.[4][5] She trained at RADA where she is now an associate, and regularly directs student productions.[citation needed]


Stage work[edit]

In her stage work, Hunter is particularly associated with physical theatre, having even been described as a "virtuoso physical performer."[6][7]

She has worked with renowned companies in that field including Shared Experience and Complicité.[7] She won an Olivier Award in 1991 for playing the millionairess in Friedrich Durrenmatt's The Visit.[8]

Critics have noted Hunter's unusual physical presence and her range. Charles Spencer of The Telegraph wrote, "diminutive in stature, and slightly lame, she has a deep, guttural voice, eyes like black olives and the most expressive of faces. Almost nothing seems beyond her range, from farcical clowning to deepest, darkest tragedy."[9]

Hunter's "uncommon ability to shape shift"[10] has led her to play roles typically reserved for male actors. She was the first British woman to play King Lear professionally.[11]

Hunter's portrayal of Lear conscientiously challenged the audience to separate character and performer: her voice and clothing read as male, but she physicalized lines such as "Down from the waist they are Centaurs/Though women all above" to remind the audience of the female body playing the part.[12] Another male role she played was in The Bee, directed by Hideki Noda, which played at the Soho Theatre in June 2006 and 2012.[13]

Hunter has also played animals and other creatures. In Kafka's Monkey, a solo piece based on Franz Kafka's "A Report to an Academy," she played a monkey delivering a speech to a scientific society about its transformation from a monkey to a man.[14] The piece was a highly acclaimed sell-out success at the Young Vic in 2009, where it was reprised in May 2011.[15] It toured to the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York in April 2013. According to Charles Isherwood of the New York Times, Hunter's performance had "wry wisdom, a touch of cheeky humor and, above all, a sense of dignity."[14]

In November 2013, she co-starred as the fairy Puck in Julie Taymor's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the show that opened the Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn.[16] Ben Brantley of the New York Times described Hunter's Puck as "genuinely original" and "part music-hall comedian, part fairground contortionist."[17]

In 2008, Hunter co-starred in the first[citation needed] English-language production of Fragments, a collection of short plays by Samuel Beckett, directed by Peter Brook.[18] Of the London run at the Young Vic, Andrew Dickson of The Guardian wrote, "the evening belongs to Kathryn Hunter, who crams into a few minutes of stage time more than most actors achieve in a career."[19] The piece toured internationally, appearing in New York in 2011.[18]

Hunter was made an Artistic Associate at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in 2008.[20][21]

From January to March 2009, she debuted as an RSC director with a production of Othello at the Warwick Arts Centre, Hackney Empire, Northern Stage, Oxford Playhouse and Liverpool Playhouse.[22] Her husband Marcello Magni was movement director on the production and appeared in it as Roderigo. Other cast members included Michael Gould as Iago, Patrice Naiambana as Othello, and Natalia Tena as Desdemona.

In 2010, Hunter played Cleopatra in a production of Antony and Cleopatra[23] and the Fool in a production of King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.[23][24] The latter performance was described as "outstanding".[24]

In January 2011, she withdrew from these roles shortly before the plays were due to be revived.[25]

In February 2016, Hunter took the title role of Cyrano de Bergerac at the Southwark Playhouse, London. Guardian critic Michael Billington wrote, "Hunter is an astonishing shape-shifting performer who can play just about anything"[26] but Telegraph critic Jane Schilling called Rusell Bolam's production "an opportunity squandered."[27] In 2017 she starred in the title role in The House of Bernarda Alba at the Royal Exchange, Manchester.

In 2018, Hunter returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company to play the title role in Timon of Athens, directed by Simon Godwin.[28]

TV and film[edit]

Her screen work includes a supporting role in the TV series Rome as Cleopatra's companion, Charmian, and voicing Gorn in Tron: Uprising. Notable film work includes Mike Leigh's All or Nothing (2002) and Harry Potter's neighbour, Arabella Figg, in the fifth movie of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007). A 2001 episode of Silent Witness entitled "Faith" (BBC), Hunter played the role of Sister Geraldine Catterson. Sister Geraldine expressed faith in the canonisation of a previously beatified Sister, Constance Kerr, whom, it was claimed, had miraculously cured a girl suffering symptoms of muscular dystrophy, and written years later in her diaries of experiencing repeated instances of direct communion with God "who pierced my heart". A canonised Sister Constance would open an urgently required source of income for what the diocese determined was a financially burdensome Hospice. Ultimately, Geraldine's "Faith" was trumped by Science. In 2018 she starred in the BBC Two drama Black Earth Rising as Capi Petridis, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Personal life[edit]

Hunter is married to Marcello Magni, co-founder of Complicité.[29]


  1. ^ "Kathryn Hunter: Gender bender". May 2004.
  2. ^ "How We Met: Simon McBurney & Kathryn Hunter". 3 September 2011.
  3. ^ Lawson, Mark (27 January 2009). "Mark Lawson talks to actor and director Kathryn Hunter about Othello, playing Lear and performing as an ape". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Barnett, Laura (26 February 2013). "Kathryn Hunter, actor – portrait of the artist". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  5. ^ Paddock, Terri (23 June 2003). "20 Questions With...Kathryn Hunter". Whatsonstage.com. Archived from the original on 31 October 2012.
  6. ^ Mark Fisher "Let's Get Physical", Scotland on Sunday, 15 August 2004
  7. ^ a b Purcell, Stephen (2005). "A Shared Experience Shakespeare and popular theatre". Performance Research. 10 (3): 74–84. doi:10.1080/13528165.2005.10871440. ISSN 1352-8165. S2CID 191656987.
  8. ^ "Previous Winners: Olivier Winners 1991". Olivier Awards. The Society of London Theatre. Archived from the original on 31 October 2012.
  9. ^ Spencer, Charles (11 May 2010). "The RSC's Antony and Cleopatra in Stratford, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  10. ^ Klett, E. (22 June 2009). Cross-Gender Shakespeare and English National Identity: Wearing the Codpiece. Springer. ISBN 9780230622609. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Being Kafka's Monkey: Kathryn Hunter". Radio National. 22 April 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  12. ^ Bulman, James C. (2008). Shakespeare Re-dressed: Cross-gender Casting in Contemporary Performance. Associated University Presse. ISBN 9780838641149.
  13. ^ Hemming, Sarah. "The Bee, Soho Theatre, London". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  14. ^ a b Isherwood, Charles. "Kafka's Monkey, at Baryshnikov Arts Center". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  15. ^ Costa, Maddy (31 May 2011). "Kafka's Monkey – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  16. ^ Winer, Linda (1 November 2013). "'A Midsummer Night's Dream' review: Julie Taymor brings magic to Brooklyn". Newsday.
  17. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Taymor's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' Opens Brooklyn Theater". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  18. ^ a b Isherwood, Charles. "'Fragments' at Baryshnikov Arts Center - Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  19. ^ Dickson, Andrew. "Theatre review: Fragments/Young Vic, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  20. ^ Love, Catherine. "Kathryn Hunter". Exeunt Magazine. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  21. ^ Shenton, Mark (22 May 2008). "Macbeth's Rupert Goold Named One of RSC's New Associate Directors". Playbill. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  22. ^ Brown, John Russell (2012). The Routledge Companion to Actors' Shakespeare. Routledge. pp. 179–185. ISBN 9780415483025.
  23. ^ a b What's On In Stratford-Upon-Avon Archived 4 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ a b Billington, Michael (3 March 2010). "Theatre Review: King Lear". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  25. ^ Nice, David. "Kathryn Hunter withdraws from RSC productions". The Arts Desk (170). Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  26. ^ Billington, Michael (23 February 2016). "Cyrano de Bergerac review – strutting Kathryn Hunter follows her nose". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  27. ^ Schilling, Jane (18 May 2016). "This Cyrano de Bergerac was a squandered opportunity". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  28. ^ "Timon of Athens". RSC. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  29. ^ Jacques, Adam. "How We Met: Simon McBurney & Kathryn Hunter". The Independent. Retrieved 20 October 2016.

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