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Katie Mitchell

Katrina Jane Mitchell, OBE (born 23 September 1964) is an English theatre director. She is an Associate of the Royal National Theatre.[1]

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[2] 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.

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 Parthenogenesis at the Royal Opera House in June 2009.[4] Her frequent collaborators include writer Martin Crimp and designer Vicki Mortimer.

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 is scheduled to direct a future production of Mozart's opera Così fan tutte at the Metropolitan Opera House.[7]


She 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",[2] 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 Stanislavsky method. She regularly involves psychiatry in looking at characters, and in 2004 directed a series of workshops on Stanislavsky and neuroscience at the NT studio.[12][13] Since her 2006 play Waves, she has also experimented with video projections in a number of productions.[2]

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

In January 2011 she was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.[15]

Selected directing credits


  1. ^ Heather Neill (June 2004). "NT Associates" (WEB). Go Backstage: Department Profiles. National Theatre. Retrieved 2008-04-25. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c Higgins, Charlotte (24 November 2007). "The cutting edge". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
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  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
  11. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (30 October 2006). "From heroine to villainess". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  12. ^
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  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58929. p. 11. 31 December 2008.
  15. ^ BBC Radio 3

External links

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