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Katie Mitchell

Katie Mitchell in 2016

Katrina Jane Mitchell OBE (born 23 September 1964) is an English theatre director.

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[1] 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.

In 2004 she was an Associate of the Royal National Theatre.[2]

Her frequent collaborators include writer Martin Crimp and designer Vicki Mortimer.

Mitchell staged a new production of Luigi Nono's Al gran sole carico d'amore for the Salzburg Festival in 2009,[3] and a new production of James MacMillan's and Michael Symmons Roberts's Parthenogenesis at the Royal Opera House in June 2009.[4]

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'.[5] 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.[6]

According to general manager Peter Gelb, Mitchell was scheduled to direct a future production of Mozart's opera Così fan tutte at the Metropolitan Opera House.[7]


Mitchell has been described as "a director who polarises audiences like no other" and "the closest thing the British theatre has to an auteur".[8] 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".[9]

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"[10] and accused of "a willful disregard for classic texts",[1] but Mitchell suggests that "there's a signature in every director's work"[10] and that it is not her intent to work to a "strong personal signature".[8]

Mitchell's process involves long and intensive rehearsal periods[11] and use of the Stanislavski 'system'.[12] She regularly involves psychiatry in looking at characters, and in 2004 directed a series of workshops on Stanislavski and neuroscience at the NT studio.[13] Since her 2006 play Waves, she has also experimented with video projections in a number of productions.[1]

In January 2011 she was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.[14]

Personal life

She has a daughter Edie, born c. 2006.[15]


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.[16]

In September 2017, she was awarded the President's Medal of the British Academy "for her work to enhance the presentation of classic and contemporary theatre and opera through innovative new production".[17]

Selected directing credits


  1. ^ a b c Higgins, Charlotte (24 November 2007). "The cutting edge". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  2. ^ Heather Neill (June 2004). "NT Associates" (Web). Go Backstage: Department Profiles. National Theatre. Retrieved 25 April 2008.[dead link]
  3. ^ "Salzburger Festspiele / Oper".
  4. ^ "Opera Parthenogenesis Britten Sinfonia/ROH2 at Linbury Studio, review" by Rupert Christiansen, The Daily Telegraph (London), 22 June 2009
  5. ^ "Five Truths – 59 Productions". Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "August 2012". This Month at the Met. 6 August 2012. Sirius XM. Metropolitan Opera Radio.
  8. ^ a b "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.
  9. ^ Hoyle, Ben (14 May 2007). "Dead white men in the critics chair scorning work of women directors". The Times. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Time Out interviews Katie Mitchell, Director of 'Women of Troy' at the National Theatre". Time Out London. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  11. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (30 October 2006). "From heroine to villainess". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Katie Mitchell, British theatre's queen in exile" by Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian, 14 January 2016
  13. ^[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Private Passions – BBC Radio 3". BBC. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  15. ^ "On the children's menu" by Sabine Durrant, The Guardian, 26 November 2010
  16. ^ "No. 58929". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2008. p. 11.
  17. ^ "From Wikipedia to Roman coins: British Academy recognises excellence in the humanities and social sciences". The British Academy. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  18. ^ The Seagull review by Michael Billington, The Guardian, 28 June 2006

External links

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