Lolita Chakrabarti

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Lolita Chakrabarti

Born (1969-06-01) 1 June 1969 (age 53)
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
SpouseAdrian Lester
RelativesReeta Chakrabarti (sister)

Lolita Chakrabarti OBE (born 1 June 1969) is a British actress and writer.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Chakrabarti was born in Kingston upon Hull, England, to Bengali Hindu parents from India on 1 June 1969. She grew up in Birmingham, where her father worked as an orthopaedic surgeon at Selly Oak Hospital.[2]



Chakrabarti graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1990.[3] From 1993 to 1996, she presented the BBC children's educational programme Numbertime.

Her screen credits include Vigil, Showtrial, The Wheel of Time,[4] Criminal: UK, Riviera, Delicious, Defending the Guilty, All Is True, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, The Casual Vacancy, My Mad Fat Diary, Jekyll and Hyde, Intruders, Bodies, Vera, Outnumbered, Hustle, Born to Kill, Forgiven, Extras Christmas Special, William and Mary, Fortysomething, Holby City, Silent Witness, and as WPC Jamila Blake in the long-running ITV drama The Bill.[5]

Her theatre credits include Fanny and Alexander for The Old Vic (2018), Gertrude in Hamlet starring Tom Hiddleston and directed by Kenneth Branagh for RADA (2017), The Great Game: Afghanistan for the Tricycle Theatre (2009), Last Seen for the Almeida (2009) (which she co-wrote), Free Outgoing for the Royal Court (2008) and John Gabriel Borkman for the Donmar Warehouse (2007).


In 2018, Chakrabarti curated The Greatest Wealth for The Old Vic, London. She commissioned eight monologues, of which she also wrote one in recognition of the 70th birthday of the NHS.[6][7] The season was relaunched online during the pandemic in 2020, with a new monologue written by novelist Bernardine Evaristo.

She adapted Italo Calvino's 1972 novel Invisible Cities, in collaboration with 59 Productions, Rambert Dance Company and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Presented at Manchester International Festival and Brisbane Festival in 2019, it was reimagined as a virtual realty film named Stones of Venice for Hong Kong New Vision Festival. In 2020, Chakrabarti was dramaturg on the dance piece Message in a Bottle for Kate Prince, ZooNation and Sadler's Wells Theatre.

Adrian Lester and Lolita Chakrabarti: A Working Diary was published by Bloomsbury in 2020, charting a year in the working life of Chakrabarti and her husband. Her play Hymn at the Almeida Theatre opened during lockdown in 2021, also starring Lester. The production was live-streamed for several nights to critical acclaim, and later opened to a live audience in July of the same year. She has also written The Goddess for Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4, Faith, Hope and Blue Charity for the same station, and co-wrote Last Seen for Slung Low Theatre Company and the Almeida Theatre.[8][9]

Red Velvet[edit]

Red Velvet, Chakrabarti's play about Ira Aldridge, an African-American actor at the centre of controversy in 1833 when he takes over from Edmund Kean in Othello at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden premiered in 2012 at the Tricycle Theatre, London.[10][11] It returned to The Tricycle in 2014 before transferring to St. Ann's Warehouse in New York. It returned again to the Garrick Theatre in London's West End as part of Kenneth Branagh's season in 2016. Chicago Shakespeare Theater and San Diego's Old Globe Theatre presented Red Velvet in 2017–18. Red Velvet has had more than 25 productions in the United States.[citation needed]

The play won Chakrabarti the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright at the 2012 Evening Standard Theatre Awards. That same year she was nominated for Best New Play and London Newcomer of the Year at the WhatsOnStage Awards. She won the award for Most Promising Playwright at the Critics' Circle Awards in January 2013 and received the AWA Award for Arts and Culture that same year. Red Velvet was also nominated for an Olivier Award in 2013.[12]

Life of Pi[edit]

Chakrabarti's adaptation of Life of Pi, based on Yann Martel's 2001 novel, premiered at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in June 2019. Following critical acclaim,[13] the production transferred to the Wyndham's Theatre, West End in November 2021. Chakrabarti was awarded the Olivier Award for Best New Play for her work,[14] and numerous other accolades including a WhatsOnStage Award, UK Theatre Award and CAMEO Award.


Chakrabarti ran Lesata Productions with Rosa Maggiora. In 2011, they produced Of Mary, a short film that won the Best Short Film Award at PAFF, Los Angeles, 2012. Chakrabarti and Maggiora were nominated for the Best Producer Award at the Underwire Film Festival, London, 2011.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Chakrabarti is married to actor Adrian Lester, whom she met while they were both students at RADA.[16] They have two daughters.[17]

She was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2021 Birthday Honours for services to drama.[18]


  1. ^ "". Findmypast.
  2. ^ a b Roy, Amit (2 December 2012). "Play it again, Lolita". The Telegraph. Kolcata. Archived from the original on 11 April 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  3. ^ "RADA: The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art - Student". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  4. ^ Denzel, Jason (25 June 2020). "Casting Announcement for Six Emond's Field characters". Dragonmount. Retrieved 25 June 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Lolita Chakrabarti at IMDb
  6. ^ "The Greatest Wealth, curated by Lolita Chakrabarti and directed by Adrian Lester". LondonTheatre1. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  7. ^ Musbach, Julie (13 June 2018). "The Old Vic Announces Casting for THE GREATEST WEALTH". Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  8. ^ "Last Seen". Slung Low. Archived from the original on 11 April 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  9. ^ Gardner, Lyn (14 July 2009). "Last Seen". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  10. ^ Billington, Michael (17 October 2012). "Red Velvet – Review". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 13 September 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  11. ^ Chakrabarti, Lolita (28 January 2014). "Lolita Chakrabarti, 'Red Velvet', and what's wrong with theatre today". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 29 January 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  12. ^ Brantley, Ben (1 April 2014). "Grandeur Under Siege: 'Red Velvet' Recalls One Shocked London Audience". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  13. ^ "'It's a hit' - five-star reviews for Life of Pi on stage in Sheffield". BBC News. 10 July 2019. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  14. ^ Wiegand, Chris (10 April 2022). "Olivier awards 2022: the full list of winners". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  15. ^ Of Mary (2011), "Full cast and crew" at Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  16. ^ Patterson, Christina (6 January 2009). "Adrian Lester: Back on the Hustle". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 19 January 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  17. ^ Greenstreet, Rosanna (28 May 2022). "Lolita Chakrabarti: 'I got caught stealing crisp money aged seven. I've been unbelievably honest since'". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2022.
  18. ^ "No. 63377". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2021. p. B11.

External links[edit]