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Katrina Mitchell


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Personal profile

Personal profile

Katie Mitchell is a Professor of Theatre Directing and a practising theatre director. 

She has directed over 100 productions in a career spanning 29 years. She has directed 74 theatre productions, initially in the UK and then from 2000 onwards in Europe also, including the cities Amsterdam, Milan, Berlin, Stockholm, Vienna, Salzburg and Hamburg. She has directed 30 operas in countries that include UK, Holland, France, Germany and Denmark. In the UK she has directed 9 productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, 19 for the National Theatre and 12 for The Royal Court - and she has been an Associate Director at all three organisations. She is currently a resident artist at the Royal Court Theatre (London), the Schaubuhne (Berlin) and the Deutsches Schauspielhaus (Hamburg). She has just finished a seven year residency at the Aix-en-Provence Festival (France) and in 2015 the Stadsschouwburg Theatre in Amsterdam hosted a retrospective of her work, presenting 8 productions from across Europe.

In 2005 Katie directed a stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel, The Waves, and created a new art form - live cinema - bringing theatre and cinema together in a uniqiue and complex symbiosis. Subsequently she has directed 16 live cinema productions in the UK, Austria, France and Germany and these pieces have toured the world including Zagreb, Athens, Moscow, Bejing, Sao Paola, Portugal, Bukarest, Taipei and Seoul. These ground breaking productions have changed the way in which video is used in theatre. Her most recent live cinema shows include an adaptation of Shadowby Elfriede Jelinek at the Schaubuhne (Berlin) in 2017, an adaptation of Marguerite Duras's Maladie de la Mort at the Bouffes du Nord (Paris) in 2018 and an adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando at the Schaubuhne (Berlin) in 2019.

Katie is committed to finding new forms of theatre to tackle the subject of climate change. She has made two productions with scientists about the subject at The Royal Court - Ten Billion (2012) with Stephen Emmott and 2071 (2014) with Professor Chris Rapley. She has also directed Duncan MacMillan's Lungs, putting the show off-grid where the performers powered the electricity for the light and sound for their performance whilst acting the text, and staged Beckett's Happy Days relocating the action to a post-environmental flooded landscape. Currently she is preparing for a live cinema show about climate change at the Vienna Burgtheater (with writer, Alice Birch and film-maker, Grant Gee), working on a new production of The Cherry Orchard from the point of view of the trees for the Hamburg Schauspielhaus and an off-grid touring module for Vidy Theatre, Lausanne about climate activism.

Katie is an advocate for women in theatre and opera, both in the work she presents (the stories told and the way women are represented on stage) and in her teaching behind the scenes with young women. She is an outspoken feminist, an advocate for equal pay for women in her field and runs workshops to empower young women and offer them strategies for coping with patriarchal structures.

Her many awards in the UK include 2 Time Out Awards (1990 & 1991), The Evening Standard Best Director Award (1996) and a Tonic Award for her representations of woman and nurture of female talent (2018). Her awards in Europe include 2 Theatertreffen prizes (Germany) in 2008 & 2009, an Obie Award (US) in 2009, 2 Golden Mask Awards (Russia) in 2011 & 2019, the Stanislavsky Internation Prize (Russia) in 2014, The New Theatrical Realities, Europe Prize in 2014, The Reumert Best Production (Denmark) in 2012, The Nestroy Best Director Prize (Austria) in 2013 and Best Director for 2019 at the International Opera Awards.  

She was presented with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) 2009 and the British Academy's President's Medal in 2017 for her services to theatre.

Her other academic roles include Visiting Professor of Opera at Oxford University in 2017, Visting Fellow at Central St Martin's 2016 0 2018 and an Honorary Fellow at Rose Bruford College, 2014. She is currently a Cultural Fellow at Kings College, London, and a Visiting Professor at St Mary's University.

Her research awards include a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship in 1989 to research director's training in Russia, Georgia, Lithuania and Poland and a Research Fellowship from the National Endowment for Sciene and the Arts (NESTA) from 2000 - 2004 to research the relationship between theatre and the fields of architecture, visual arts, psychology, biology and dance.

In 2008 she published The Director's Craft for Routledge (in several translations including Korean, Catalan, Japanese and German), her practical manual to help young directors learn how to direct and in 2008 she published two books for Oberon Books - ..some trace of her  (a record of her multimedia adaptation of Dostoevsky's novel, The Idiot) and Waves (a visual documentation of her live cinema adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel The Waves). She is currently working on a new directing manual for directors in response to her discoveries teaching at Royal Holloway University.

Recent Projects

This year Katie directed Martin Crimps When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other at The National Theatre in London, a live cinema stage adaptation of Maggie Nelson's Bluets at The Hamburg Schauspielhaus, Anne Carson's Norma Jeane Baker of Troy for the opening of The Shed in New York, a new music theatre piece about migration - Zauberland  - at The Bouffes du Nord, Paris and a live cinema adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando at The Schaubuhne Theatre, Berlin.

Current Projects

Katie is currently directing Alice' Birch's Anatomy of a Suicide for The Hamburg Schauspielhaus, preparing for a production of the opera Bluebeard's Castle at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich (combining pre-recorded film and live stage action), a production of Strauss's Frau Ohne Schatten at Netherlands Opera, a live cinema project about the environment written by Alice Birch for The Vienna Burgtheater and a live cinema adaptation of Rachel Cusk's Outline Trilogy for the National Theatre London - all scheduled for 2020.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action