Grandage on the set of Red at the Wyndham's Theatre, 2018
|Born||2 May 1962|
|Education||Royal Central School of Speech & Drama|
|Occupation||Theatre director, producer|
Michael Grandage CBE (born 2 May 1962) is a British theatre director and producer. At the end of 2011, he set up the Michael Grandage Company and appointed himself Artistic Director. From 2002 to 2012 he was an Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse in London.
Grandage was born in Yorkshire, England, and raised in Penzance, Cornwall, where his parents ran a family business. He was educated at the Humphry Davy Grammar School before training as an actor at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama through 1984. He spent twelve years working as an actor for companies such as the Royal Exchange and the Royal Shakespeare Company and was also a member of National Youth Theatre before turning to directing. He made his directorial debut in 1996 with a production of Arthur Miller's The Last Yankee at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester. In 1998 he was invited by Sheffield Theatres to direct Twelfth Night, his first Shakespeare production. In the same year he made his London directorial debut at the Almeida Theatre with a production of Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma.
From 1999 to 2005 he was Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres where his high-profile productions included Edward II with Joseph Fiennes, Richard III with Kenneth Branagh, Suddenly Last Summer with Diana Rigg and Victoria Hamilton, The Tempest with Derek Jacobi and Don Carlos with Derek Jacobi. He produced over forty plays with predominantly young directors and designers. He is credited with delivering consistently high quality work as well as bringing in new audiences and in 2001, Sheffield Theatres won the TMA Theatre of the Year.
From 2002 to 2012 he was Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse where he succeeded Sam Mendes. During his tenure, he expanded the theatre's repertoire to include European work, touring productions and an extensive education programme as well as taking the new Donmar brand to international audiences in America, Australia, Argentina and Europe.
In September 2008 he launched a one-year Donmar West End "access for all" season of four plays with affordable ticket prices when the company extended its repertory to the newly refurbished Wyndham's Theatre. Grandage directed all four productions: Kenneth Branagh in Ivanov, Derek Jacobi in Twelfth Night, Judi Dench in Madame de Sade and Jude Law in Hamlet.
During his decade at the Donmar he produced sixty six productions directing twenty five of them himself. His contributions to the Donmar included the purchase of the theatre site in Earlham Street, and the purchase of office and rehearsal space in nearby Dryden Street in 2011. These were made possible through commercial activity that Grandage engaged in on behalf of the Donmar during his tenure, particularly transferring productions to the West End and Broadway.
His work at the Donmar won Tony, Olivier, Evening Standard, Critics' Circle and South Bank Awards. He was first nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award in 2001 for Best Director for Peter Nichols' Passion Play at the Donmar Warehouse before winning in 2004 for David Greig's Caligula. Two of his musical productions for the Donmar have also won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production and a third won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. He has won four Evening Standard Awards for his Donmar work including productions of Passion Play, Merrily We Roll Along, Grand Hotel, Ivanov, The Chalk Garden and Othello. In 2010, his production of Red by John Logan won six Tony Awards including Best Play and Best Director.
In June 2012, Constable & Robinson published A Decade At The Donmar by Michael Grandage, a photographic record of his tenure.
In 2010 Grandage started to work in opera, making his debut at Glyndebourne with a production of Billy Budd. This production has also played at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City in 2014 and San Francisco Opera in 2019. He returned to Glyndebourne in 2012 to direct Le nozze di Figaro, a production that was revived for the following four years. In the U.S. his work has included new productions of Madama Butterfly and Don Giovanni for the Metropolitan Opera,Chicago Lyric Opera and Houston Grand Opera.
At the end of 2011, Grandage set up the Michael Grandage Company to produce work in theatre, film and TV.
In June 2012, alongside producer James Bierman, he announced a fifteen-month season of work at the Noël Coward Theatre in London's West End aimed at reaching out to a new generation of theatre-goers through pricing and access with over 100,000 seats going on sale at £10. Between December 2012 and February 2014 they produced Privates on Parade with Simon Russell Beale; John Logan's new play Peter and Alice with Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw; Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh; and two plays by Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream with Sheridan Smith and David Walliams, followed by Henry V with Jude Law. Grandage directed all five productions and the season was nominated for six Olivier Awards. In 2014 The Cripple of Inishmaan transferred to Broadway where it was nominated for six Tony Awards.
In 2014 Grandage and Bierman started work on the feature film, Genius, about the relationship between author Thomas Wolfe and his editor Max Perkins. The film, which is based on A. Scott Berg's biography Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, has a screenplay by John Logan and is directed by Grandage. It stars Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce, Dominic West and Laura Linney. The film, produced by MGC, premiered at Berlin Film Festival in 2016 and was released on 16 June in the USA.
In 2015, the company returned to the West End with Photograph 51, a new play by Anna Ziegler starring Nicole Kidman. The production continued their commitment to greater access with twenty five percent of every performance at ten pounds. Kidman went on to win the Evening Standard Best Actress Award as well as receiving an Olivier nomination for Best Actress.
Further theatre work in 2015/16 included a co-production with Emily Dobbs of Richard Greenberg's The Dazzle starring Andrew Scott and David Dawson, directed by Simon Evans at Found 111 and a co-production with Phil McIntyre of 30 Million Minutes, a one-woman show starring Dawn French, directed by Michael Grandage. This toured the UK and played in the West End twice before being broadcast on BBC Four.
In 2016, MGC produced Eugene O'Neill's Hughie on Broadway starring Forest Whitaker. Following this, Bierman left the company and producer Nick Frankfort joined alongside Executive Director Stella McCabe. In addition to producing work in all media, MGC now offers a General Management service as well as looking after a select group of creative practitioners.
In 2017, the company produced Labour of Love, a new play by James Graham in a co-production with Headlong. Directed by Jeremy Herrin and starring Martin Freeman and Tamsin Greig, this critically acclaimed production went on to win the 2017 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.
In 2018 they continued their commitment to quality work at affordable prices in the West End presenting Red by John Logan and The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh - both directed by Grandage. Also in 2018, MGC announced a new film in development based on David Pitts' book Jack and Lem: The Untold Story of an Extraordinary Friendship.
In 2013, Grandage formed his charity MGCfutures, dedicated to supporting the work of young theatre makers and theatre audiences of the future. Initially, its educational work ran alongside the activities of MGC's work in the West End including the formation of a Youth Theatre. In 2014, when it acquired registered charity status, its reach became much wider. Since 2016 it has offered annual bursaries to young theatre makers including directors, producers, designers, writers, performers and all creative artists. In 2017 it piloted a new scheme giving young people the opportunity to watch and engage with theatre. The scheme, Theatergoers for Life, is designed to encourage young people to start a meaningful relationship with live performance by supporting and encouraging independent theatre-going to regional theatres.
Grandage has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of London, Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University. He has been given honorary fellowships by The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Falmouth University. In 2005 he was awarded the German-British Forum Award in recognition of an outstanding contribution to German-British relations following his introduction of Schiller into the West End and regional repertoire. He was awarded the 2006 Award for Excellence in International Theatre by the International Theatre Institute. In 2010 he became President of The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. He is also President of the Morrab Library and Patron of the Newlyn Arts Festival in Cornwall. In 2011, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's birthday honours for Services to Drama.