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Terry Hands

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Terry Hands
Hands in 1972
Terence David Hands

(1941-01-09)9 January 1941
Died4 February 2020(2020-02-04) (aged 79)
OccupationTheatre director
Spouse(s)Dame Josephine Barstow (1964–1967; divorced)
Ludmila Mikaël (1974–1980; divorced)
Julia Lintott
Emma Lucia (2002–2020)

Terence David Hands, CBE (9 January 1941 – 4 February 2020[1]) was a multi-award English theatre director. He founded the Liverpool Everyman Theatre and ran the Royal Shakespeare Company for thirteen years during one of the company's most successful periods; he spent 25 years in all with the RSC.[2] He also saved Clwyd Theatr Cymru from closure and turned it into the most successful theatre in Wales in his seventeen years as Artistic Director.[3] He received several Olivier, Tony and Molière awards and nominations for directing and lighting.[4]

Early years[edit]

Hands was born at Aldershot, Hampshire, England. He studied at Woking Grammar School and the University of Birmingham before attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, leaving with the gold medal for acting in 1964. He then established the Liverpool Everyman where he directed numerous productions,[5] including a prominent production of T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral".[6]


Hands was recruited by Peter Hall to the Royal Shakespeare Company two years later in 1966 to run the company's touring group Theatregoround. He became an associate director there in 1967, directing his first production for them, The Merry Wives of Windsor, in 1968 at the age of 27.[7] He became joint Artistic Director with Trevor Nunn in 1978, and in 1986 sole chief executive.[7] As Director Emeritus and Artistic Director he directed more productions during his 25 years there than any other director in the company’s history. These included the entire History Cycle with Alan Howard, Much Ado About Nothing[2] and Edmund Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac with Derek Jacobi and Sinéad Cusack (both productions transferred to Broadway),[2] Christopher Marlowe's Tamburlaine with Sir Antony Sher, Loves Labours Lost with Ralph Fiennes, Anton Chekov's The Seagull with Sir Simon Russell Beale, A Winter’s Tale with Jeremy Irons, Othello with Sir Ben Kingsley and David Suchet and the award-winning musical Poppy.

He was the first foreign director invited to direct at the Comédie-Française; he was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, and was appointed as a consultant director.

In 1997 Hands became Artistic Director of Theatr Clwyd (afterwards renamed Clwyd Theatr Cymru),[7][5] which presents much of its work on tour in Wales and the rest of the UK, saving the theatre from closure.

He was appointed CBE in the 2007 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to drama. In October 2001 he resigned from his position as an advisory director of the RSC.

In 2015 Hands left his post as Artistic Director of Clwyd Theatr Cymru after seventeen years in the post, having turned the theatre into the most successful in Wales and leaving a legacy of a Welsh company of associate artists.[7]

His international directing credits include productions in Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, London, New York, Oslo, Paris, Tokyo, Vienna and Zurich. From 1975 to 1980 he was consultant-director of the Comédie-Française and was a Chevalier of Arts and Letters. His opera directing credits include "Otello" with Plácido Domingo (Paris Opera) and Parsifal (Royal Opera House).[7]

Personal life and death[edit]

Hands was married to soprano Dame Josephine Barstow (1964–1967),[7] and afterwards to actress Ludmila Mikaël (1974–1980),[7] with whom he had a daughter, César winning actress Marina Hands. He had two sons, Rupert who is also a director, and Sebastian.[5] In 2002 he married director Emma Lucia.[6] A chain smoker with an unhealthy diet, he once remarked "'I'm not a particularly good cook, but I’m quick" ... adding that he lived on a diet of meat. 'I virtually never eat vegetables, and I never eat a salad, ever.'"[8]

Hands died after a short illness, aged 79, on 4 February 2020.[9][8]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1985: Tony Award for Best Director of a Play – Much Ado About Nothing
  • 1985: Tony Award for Best Lighting Design – Much Ado About Nothing
  • 1985: Tony Award for Best Lighting Design – Cyrano De Bergerac[10]

Stage productions[edit]

Theatregoround – Touring RSC
RSC (Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Aldwych Theatre)
RSC at the Barbican Theatres and Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Chichester Festival
  • 1995: Hadrian VII, Chichester Festival Theatre
  • 1995: The Visit, Chichester Festival Theatre
Clwyd Theatr Cymru


  1. ^ Wiegand, Chris (4 February 2020). "Theatre director Terry Hands, who ran the Royal Shakespeare Company, dies aged 79". The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b c "Terry Hands, award-winning theatre director who proved to be the wrong man to lead the RSC – obituary". The Telegraph. 4 February 2020.
  3. ^ "Review of In Memory from the theatre dance and drama in Wales web site". www.theatre-wales.co.uk. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  4. ^ Green, Michael (26 January 2015). "Mold Clwyd Theatr Cymru to stage Hamlet as artistic director's swan song". chesterchronicle.co.uk. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Georgia Snow (4 February 2020). "Former RSC artistic director Terry Hands dies". The Stage.
  6. ^ a b Billington, Michael (4 February 2020). "Terry Hands left our theatre infinitely richer than he found it". The Guardian.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Coveney, Michael (4 February 2020). "Terry Hands obituary". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 June 2023. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  8. ^ a b "Terry Hands obituary". 7 September 2023 – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  9. ^ Coveney, Michael (4 February 2020). "Terry Hands obituary". The Guardian.
  10. ^ "Terry Hands". Playbillvault. Retrieved 31 May 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Trowbridge, Simon: The Company: A Biographical Dictionary of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Oxford: Editions Albert Creed (2010); ISBN 978-0-9559830-2-3

External links[edit]