Life and career
Mitchell was raised in Hermitage, Berkshire, and educated at Oakham School. Upon leaving Oakham she went up to Magdalen College, Oxford, to read English. She is particularly inspired by Eastern European theatre and by choreographers such as Pina Bausch and Siobhan Davies.
She began her career behind the scenes at the King's Head Theatre in London before taking on work as an assistant director at theatre companies including Paines Plough and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Early in her career she directed a number of early productions under the umbrella of her company Classics On A Shoestring.
In 1997 Mitchell became responsible for programming at the Other Place – the RSC's now defunct black box space. While at the RSC her productions included The Phoenician Women which won her the Evening Standard Award for Best Director in 1996.
Mitchell staged a new production of Luigi Nono's Al gran sole carico d'amore for the Salzburg Festival in 2009, and a new production of Parthenogenesis at the Royal Opera House in June 2009. Her frequent collaborators include writer Martin Crimp and designer Vicki Mortimer.
The Department of Theatre and Performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum invited Mitchell and Leo Warner of 59 Productions to conceive and produce a video installation exploring the nature of 'truth in performance'. Taking as its inspiration 5 of the most influential European theatre directors of the last century, the project examines how each of the practitioners would direct the actress playing Ophelia in the famous 'mad' scenes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This multiscreen video installation, launched at the Chantiers Europe festival at the Theatre de la Ville in Paris on 4 June, and opened at the V&A on 12 July 2011.
She has been described as "a director who polarises audiences like no other" and "the closest thing the British theatre has to an auteur". In 2007, the artistic director of the NT accused the British press of affording Mitchell's productions "misogynistic reviews, where everything they say is predicated on her sex".
Her productions have been described as "distinguished by the intensity of the emotions, the realism of the acting, and the creation of a very distinctive world" and accused of "a willful disregard for classic texts", but Mitchell suggests that "there's a signature in every director's work" and that it is not her intent to work to a "strong personal signature".
Mitchell's process involves long and intensive rehearsal periods and use of the Stanislavski 'system'. She regularly involves psychiatry in looking at characters, and in 2004 directed a series of workshops on Stanislavski and neuroscience at the NT studio. Since her 2006 play Waves, she has also experimented with video projections in a number of productions.
A former associate director at the Royal Court Theatre, Mitchell was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours. She has a daughter Edie, born c. 2006.
Selected directing credits
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- 1994: Rutherford and Son by Githa Sowerby
- 1995: The Machine Wreckers (Die Maschinenstürmer) by Ernst Toller
- 1996: The Phoenician Women by Euripides
- 1996: Don Giovanni, an opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- 1998: Jenůfa, an opera by Leoš Janáček
- 2000: The Oresteia, a version by Ted Hughes from Aeschylus
- 2000: The Country, by Martin Crimp
- 2001: Káťa Kabanová, an opera by Leoš Janáček
- 2002: Ivanov by Anton Chekhov
- 2003: Jephtha, an oratorio by George Frideric Handel
- 2003: Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov
- 2004: The Turn of the Screw (film), opera by Benjamin Britten
- 2004: Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides
- 2005: A Dream Play by August Strindberg
- 2006: The Seagull, a version by Martin Crimp of Anton Chekhov's play
- 2007: Waves, based on Virginia Woolf's novel The Waves
- 2007: Attempts on Her Life by Martin Crimp
- 2007: Women of Troy by Euripides
- 2008: The City by Martin Crimp
- 2008: ...Some Trace of Her inspired / based on The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- 2008: The Maids by Jean Genet, Sweden
- 2009: Wunschkonzert by Franz Xaver Kroetz, Schauspiel Köln, Cologne, Germany
- 2009: After Dido based on Dido and Aeneas by Purcell (for English National Opera at the Young Vic)
- 2009: Pains of Youth, a version by Martin Crimp of Ferdinand Bruckner's play Krankheit der Jugend at the National Theatre
- 2009: Parthenogenesis an opera by James MacMillan and Michael Symmons Roberts at the Royal Opera House
- 2009: The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss at the National Theatre and at the Young Vic
- 2010: Idomeneo by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at English National Opera
- 2010: Fräulein Julie after August Strindberg at the Schaubühne, Berlin
- 2010: Beauty And The Beast by Lucy Kirkwood at the National Theatre
- 2011: Clemency, an opera by James MacMillan and Michael Symmons Roberts at the Royal Opera House
- 2011: Die Wellen based on Virginia Woolf's The Waves at Schauspiel Köln, Cologne, Germany
- 2011: Wastwater by Simon Stephens at the Royal Court Theatre, London
- 2011: A Woman Killed With Kindness by Thomas Heywood at the National Theatre, London
- 2012: The Trial of Ubu Roi by Simon Stephens at the Hampstead Theatre, London
- 2012: Written on Skin, an opera by George Benjamin, libretto by Martin Crimp at the Grand Théâtre de Provence during Aix-en-Provence Festival
- 2012: Die Ringe des Saturn by W. G. Sebald at Avignon Festival
- 2012: Ten Billion by Katie Mitchell and Stephen Emmott at Avignon Festival
- 2012: Reise Durch Die Nacht by Friederike Mayröcker at Schauspiel Köln, Cologne, Germany
- 2013: Le vin herbé by Frank Martin at Berlin State Opera, Berlin
- 2013: The House Taken Over by Vasco Mendonça at the Aix-en-Provence Festival
- 2013: Alles Weitere Kennen Sie aus dem Kino a version by Martin Crimp of Euripides' The Phoenician Women at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg
- 2013: Die gelbe Tapete by Charlotte Perkins Gilman at Schaubühne, Berlin, Germany
- 2013: Atmen by Duncan Macmillan at Schaubühne, Berlin, Germany
- 2014: Wunschloses Unglück by Peter Handke at Burgtheater, Vienna, Austria
- 2014: The Forbidden Zone von Duncan Macmillan, Salzburger Festspiele, Austria
- 2015: Glückliche Tage by Samuel Beckett at Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg, Germany
- 2015: Alcina by Handel at Festival d'Aix-en-Provence (Streaming-Live, Blu-ral/DVD released in 2016)
- 2015: Reisende auf einem Bein by Herta Müller at Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg, Germany
- 2016: Cleansed by Sarah Kane at the National Theatre, London
- 2016: Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti at Royal Opera House
- 2016: Neither by Morton Feldman at Berlin State Opera
- 2016: Pelléas et Mélisande by Claude Debussy at Festival d'Aix-en-Provence (Streaming-Live)
- Heather Neill (June 2004). "NT Associates" (Web). Go Backstage: Department Profiles. National Theatre. Retrieved 2008-04-25.[dead link]
- Higgins, Charlotte (24 November 2007). "The cutting edge". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "August 2012". This Month at the Met. 6 August 2012. Sirius XM. Metropolitan Opera Radio.
- "Katie Mitchell: 'I'd hate to hang around making theatre when they're tired of it'". The Independent. London. 17 April 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Hoyle, Ben (14 May 2007). "Dead white men in the critics chair scorning work of women directors". The Times. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Cavendish, Dominic (30 October 2006). "From heroine to villainess". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- "Katie Mitchell, British theatre's queen in exile" by Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian, 14 January 2016
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2008.
- "On the children's menu" by Sabine Durrant, The Guardian, 26 November 2010
- BBC Radio 3
- The Seagull review by Michael Billington, The Guardian, 28 June 2006
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