Richard Crawford (director)

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Richard Crawford
Richard Crawford - Director.jpg
Born Scotland, United Kingdom
Occupation Theater director, actor

Richard Crawford is a British theatre director and actor. He is most noted for his site specific and immersive productions, adapting and directing the world stage premier of Edward Scissorhands in New York, the London premier of Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and introducing immersive theatrical productions to Hong Kong.[1] He was born in Scotland and performed in many Edinburgh festival plays and musicals where he won best breakthrough actor at the Fringe Festival at the age of 18. Having started his career in the UK as an actor, Crawford is based between London and New York where among his other performing ventures he is also a member of New York's Actors Studio after being accepted into the prestigious studio in 2011. He is also a previous student and performer at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

Crawford, a member of The Flying Machine (a theatre company associated with Jacques Lecoq),[2] has directed many productions across the world, from Cirque du Soleil's Dralion,[3] to the World Stage premier of Evanescent which he wrote, which opened to sell out audiences in New York and the comedy Filthy McNasty presents Dick Biscuit.[4] at The Edinburgh Festival. He is also the Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Studio Lab, a collective of film and theatre artists based in Willamsburg, New York,[5] and he is also a founding member of The New York Rebel Film Club.

Crawford played the title role in The Flying Machine's Frankenstein,[6] a Drama Desk nominated production.[7][8][9] He also directed the world stage premier of Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands in New York in 2010.[10][11]

Crawford took the Scissorshands helm in New York saying "There's a mystique around this project" Describing the project in an interview with the New York Times he said "It's not Broadway, It's everyone pitching in and doing their bit for the love of the art, really."[12] The production had mixed reviews, Show Business Weekly stated that "despite Crawford's valiant attempt at engaging the audience, however, Edward Scissorhands is simply a story better told on film than on stage."[13] Free Willamsburg, on the other hand, lauded the production stating "What's cool then is you aren't just watching another re-enactment of a storyline hashed out over years of rebuttals, but a first-time staging, done by friends, not for money or fame, but led by their passion for the stage, and perhaps spooked themselves by the tragic story of the underdeveloped stranger with scissors for his hands."[14]

After Edward Scissorhands, Crawford opened his third play in three years, "Diary of a Sociopathic Freakazoid", where "Writer/director/actor Richard Crawford and his international band of performers who comprise the Brooklyn Studio Lab are performing Diary of a Sociopathic Freakazoid in Hollywood after a successful premiere at New York's View Theatre."[15] In an interview with Amy Tofte at the LA Bitter Lemon Magazine, Crawford explained the move to Hollywood, ""I like the theatre scene in LA because it's underground and you're doing something that isn't necessarily commercially appealing to everyone," Crawford says. "The people who do it here really want to fucking do it. It reminds me of Edinburgh."[15]

The show described as "a relentless exploration of the mind of a twenty something sociopath and his family and friends in Manhattan, a theatrical experience that will explore and express the mind of a sociopath using theatrical, musical and installation elements,"[16] was well received in LA and was nominated for best International play.[17] Notoriously tough LA Weekly critic Bill Raden singled the show out as one of the highlights of the Hollywood theatre offerings stating, "By the end of this unrelentingly Dostoyevskian descent into vice, self-abasement, caddishness and appalling personal betrayal, Dominic (Crawford) successfully sweeps such emotional encumbrances from his life with a fierce and frightening finality. A hilariously scathing serenade to the all-consuming self-absorption of the artistic ego."[18]

In 2013 Crawford returned to London and collaborated with fellow New York Strasberg Alumni Brooke Johnston and co directed Shakespeare's Hamlet with a Method influence at The Drayton Theatre in Kensington. London Theatre profiled the production "Set in the swinging sixties with Mad Men era costumes expect the sex, drugs, and rock and roll indicative of the period,"[19] This controversial take on Hamlet proved highly successful with Timeout giving it a 4/5 star average stating "I found this Hamlet to be fresh, lively and provocative."[20] London Hot Hot Magazine also praised the productions risky modern take with critic Cameron Yorke stating "Whether or not you have a passion for Hamlet, this production will have you riveted throughout the entire performance with its connection to today's lifestyle and above all is a thoroughly enjoyable, witty Show.!"[21]

In July 2013 Crawford became the Artistic Director of Secret Theatre London and adapted and directed the London stage premier of Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs".[22] The production aimed to help charities including Shelter and Save The Wild Tigers, journalist Emma Stone stated in an interview with Crawford "The commitment and passion Richard speaks of his production with is a breath of fresh air amidst a climate dominated by profit and recession, with the ever increasing cuts to arts funding marring the potential of original British theatre."[23]

The production of Reservoir Dogs split critics with Dominic Maxwell at The Times stating "Sell the sizzle not the steak,"[24] and The Stage noting "Crawford's dialogue is punchy enough but his adaptations defuse the power of Tarantino's blistering script."[25] whilst Everything Theatre stated the production was "Edgy and exciting. Tarantino is a big name to live up to, and this production does him justice."[26] The production quickly sold out and gained a cult following and a five star average user rating with Time Out.[27]

2014 saw Crawford open his play Freakazoid in May at The Proud Archivist in London as part of Secret Theatre.[28] The production, which was site specific in an east end art gallery where you watched the artist have a personal breakdown as performance art, sold out and gained a 5 star review in Punk Art London who stated "It was refreshing and remarkable for a production company that has previously performed Reservoir Dogs and Edward Scissorhand’s would choose to take a risk with new material. The topics hit raw nerves. Highly relatable and disturbingly spot on, the ending cuts deep."[29] The raw nerves caused some audience members to walk out with Miista Magazine stating "we can see he why Crawford’s work is compared to the likes of Bret Easton Ellis. In this case it drew more parallels with Less Than Zero but his style is as eerie and entertaining as the American writer’s.][30] The show was not to everyones taste with critic Anna Forsyth describing the show as "Unsubtle. This might sound odd, but the most subtle acting and story (and my favourite parts of the show) came from trans prostitute Nadia, a six foot something wonder in heels."[31]

After a site specific production of Hamlet at Garricks Temple in London in July 2014, co directed by Richard Crawford and Brooke Johnston, the production, originally performed at The Drayton Theatre in London in 2013, transferred to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival in August 2014.[32] The production gained 4 stars from Edinburgh Spotlight who expressed "Secret Theatre’s Hamlet boasts a very natural performance and it earns its stars for a fresh take on the play, and the energy and interactive connection of its direction and most of its performers." [33] Three Weeks also praised the production and the performances giving it 4 stars and stating "All of the cast do an excellent job, with the actor playing Hamlet delivering a mesmerising performance. " [34] Audience Fringe reviews were also very positive with Cristina Olsson writing "One of the best Hamlet I have seen! Brilliant!" [32]

In 2015 Crawford produced and directed the world stage premier of SE7EN (Deadly Sins) in London and Hong Kong. Both shows sold out and were met with critical acclaim and the production featured on the front cover of Time Out stating "Secret Theatre, one the most critically-acclaimed and ground-breaking theatre companies around today, has finally come to Hong Kong to smash preconceptions surrounding stage performances."[35] The show, which had the audience moved from a pier, to a boat, then a speedboat then finally a secret haunted house on an island was seen as groundbreaking with Hong Kong Expat naming it as Hong Kong's Best Show of the year stating, " I urge you to enter into the unknown, to think outside the box, to go along without knowing anything in the trust that what you come back with is a unique experience that culture lovers and Hong Kong have been itching for." [36]

2015 also saw the Crawford produced Secret Studio Lab Romeo and Juliet on a secret Island in London. The production was a huge success with On in London stating "What I can say is that Richard Crawford, the original mastermind of ‘Secret Theatre’ whose previous sell-out productions include: Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands in a disused New York factory and Diary of a Sociopath in a Theatre Asylum in Hollywood, has raised the bar for immersive theatre to a whole new level with his latest offering."[37]

2015 also saw the production of Evanesce, written and directed by Richard Crawford and performed in a disused police station in London. Rachael Marsh of the justice gap reviewed the production stating "Richard Crawford, Secret Theatre’s artistic director, who wrote the original play, was inspired by the stories of innocent people exonerated after long years in prison, both here and in the US. He pulled together a fabulous cast of actors, passionate about raising awareness of the issue; some motivated by the way that the legal system had touched their own lives.‘Intense and thought-provoking’ were among the responses of the audience, and was exactly what we were trying to achieve. By bringing the experiences of those wronged by the justice system into the light, we hope to create system-wide change that will prevent others from being put through such an ordeal."[38]

In 2016 Crawford adapted, produced and directed Hell Hath No Fury at "Dusk Till Dawn" a Tarantino inspired immersive, site specific vampire thriller that opened in London and then transferred to Hong Kong that year. The show opened with a lot of buzz, selling out quickly in both cities with Timeout giving to a 5 star review and stating, "The wildly successful Secret Theatre project returns to Hong Kong! Touted as one of the city’s best (or worst) kept undercover cultural events last year, 2015’s production saw a production of Seven out on Lamma Island. As the location and theme of this year’s production is secret until the purchase of your ticket, you’ve got to pay out to find out!" [39] The production again pushed the boundaries of immersive theatre with cult commentary Typewriter stating "They totally turn the table over with this year’s production, which is a transfer of their original production done in London a few months ago. An immersive piece really successfully done with a gripping structure and acquired aesthetic taste. I finally can see the brilliant skills of Mr Crawford’s directions. Everything is designed closely to the venue, from the play structure to the design of the costumes and the use of lighting." [40]

In 2016 Crawford also wrote, produced and directed Code 2021, an immersive futuristic court room drama at The Town Hall Hotel in London. [41] London's evening standard previewed the production in Top 5 Autumn London shows, as did Buzzfeed including the production in its "cultured as fuck" section. [42] West End Wilma highlighted the importance of the production stating "This was the absolute epitome of ‘immersive’ theatre, relying heavily on the input of an audience, without whom the production would be impossible to operate. As the drama played out, it was fascinating to observe how the twists and turns of the plot inspired mounting participation and passion from members of the audience, forcing us to confront our own moral and ethical viewpoints. It revealed the complexities of the justice system, and the challenges involved with sentencing a defendant. It was deeply satisfying to walk away from a piece of theatre feeling challenged, both intellectually and emotionally." [43]


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  4. ^ "Theatremania article". 23 June 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Brooklyn Studio Lab Staff". Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Frankenstein Review". 8 April 2006. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
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  8. ^ "Tiny characters, giant challenges(Colorado Springs Gazette, 09/18/2006)". Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
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  17. ^ "Turnstyle " Fringe Freak Awards– The Best of the Hollywood Fringe". 25 June 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  18. ^ Leigh, Steven (13 June 2012). "2012 Hollywood Fringe Reviews – Los Angeles – Arts – Public Spectacle". Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
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