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Marianne Elliott (director)

Marianne Phoebe Elliott, OBE (born 27 December 1966) is a British theatre director.

Marianne Elliott
Marianne Phoebe Elliott

(1966-12-27) 27 December 1966 (age 52)
London, England, UK
OccupationTheatre director
Spouse(s)Nick Sidi (2002–present)
Parent(s)Rosalind Knight
Michael Elliott

Early lifeEdit

Elliott was born in 1966 in London, the daughter of Michael Elliott, theatre director and co-founder of the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester, and actress Rosalind Knight.[1] Her maternal grandfather was the actor Esmond Knight. The family moved to Manchester when she was eight years old and attended St Hilary's School, Alderley Edge, Didsbury Road Junior School in Heaton Moor and later Stockport Grammar School.

She has said she "hated" the theatrical professions as a child "and used to ask [her parents] not to talk shop".[2] Despite this early ambivalence, she studied drama at Hull University, but used "to sneak into English lectures because she found them more interesting".[3][4]

Elliot's father, Michael, died when she was a teenager. She said "I don’t think I would have gone into the theatre at all if my father had lived because he was so good at it. I didn’t make the decision to direct until I was in my late 20s, a good 10 years after he died."[4]


After leaving university Elliott was, initially, determined not to go into the theatre and had a number of different jobs including casting director and drama secretary at Granada Television. It was an assistant director role at Regent's Park that first moved her in the direction of a theatrical career.

Royal Exchange, Manchester, 1995–2005Edit

In 1995 she began to work at the Royal Exchange, where her father had been a founding Artistic Director. She was nurtured by Greg Hersov, who she has described as her "biggest influence",[4] and she spent a decade working her way up until being appointed artistic director in 1998. In her own estimation, two stand-out productions from that period were a 2000 As You Like It and the world premiere of Simon Stephens' play Port.[4]

National Theatre, 2002–2017Edit

In 2002, she was invited by Nicholas Hytner, who Elliot has said "seemed to value [her] talent more highly than I did"[4] to make her National Theatre debut with Ibsen's Pillars of the Community, which led to her being invited back to direct Saint Joan, starring Anne-Marie Duff, which won the Olivier Award for Best Revival in 2008.[4] She became an Associate Director under Hytner, and directed a series of important, influential and highly successful productions including War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. She left the National Theatre in 2017.

Elliott & Harper Productions, 2017–Edit

In 2016 Elliott teamed up with theatre producer Chris Harper to set up theatre company Elliott & Harper Productions. Its first production was the West End premiere of Heisenberg by Simon Stephens, directed by Elliott at the Wyndham's Theatre (3 October 2017 - 6 January 2018). Elliott & Harper are co-producers of the National Theatre's Broadway transfer of Angels in America which opened in March 2018, also directed by Elliott.[5] The company's latest West End production is Company in which Bobby is played by a woman. It opened at the Gielgud Theatre in September 2018 and the cast includes Rosalie Craig as Bobbi and Patti LuPone as Joanne. Elliott commented that Stephen Sondheim "didn’t like the idea at first, but he agreed to let me workshop it in London. We filmed part of it and sent it to him in New York, and he said he loved it. He has agreed to the odd lyric change, but essentially I’m hoping to tweak it as little as possible. Reviving Company 47 years on, I think it actually makes more sense for Bobby to be a woman." Elliott & Harper have also produced a new adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with Catherine Schreiber and West Yorkshire Playhouse. Directed by Sally Cookson it ran at West Yorkshire Playhouse until 27 January 2018.

Key collaborationsEdit

Elliot has several loyal creative relationships with collaborators that extend over decades, including the actor Anne-Marie Duff, whom she has directed several times.

Simon Stephens, the British playwright, spoke of her as having "an innate sense of democracy. She combines a fearlessly theatrical imagination with a real concern for her audience. [Curious Incident] has to be a piece of theatre you can come to if you’re 10 or if you’re 90. Marianne and the rest of the artistic team were completely committed to trying to get inside Christopher’s head and dramatise his world from within.”[4] With Stephens and her regular designer Bunny Christie, Elliot made the world premiere of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which won a record seven Oliviers in 2013, and ran on Broadway for 800 performances.


In 2011 she won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for the Broadway production of War Horse, along with co-director Tom Morris.[6] In 2015, she won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for a second time, winning for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which also won Best Play and Best Actor for Alex Sharp. For the same production, she won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director in 2013.[7] She has won Best Director at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards twice: first in 2006 for Pillars of the Community[8] and again in 2018 for directing the Stephen Sondheim musical Company in a production at the Gielgud Theatre.[9]

She has said that her philosophy would remain unchanged by her awards: "I don’t think an Olivier Award will make any difference. Proving that I am good enough – that’s what motivates me. To prove, prove, prove, push, push, push… Not very healthy, is it?".[10]

Elliott was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to theatre.[11]


Selected theatre productionsEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Elliott married the actor Nick Sidi in 2002; they have one daughter.


  • Murray, Braham (2007). The Worst It Can Be Is a Disaster. London, UK: Methuen Drama. ISBN 978-0-7136-8490-2.


  1. ^ Kellaway, Kate (29 October 2006). "Theatre: Kate Kellaway asks why is Marianne Elliott so little-known?". the Guardian.
  2. ^ Lisa O'Kelly "Marianne Elliott: 'Why do something that's run of the mill?'" The Observer, 3 February 2013.
  3. ^ Kate Kellaway "'When it goes well it is like falling in love. It gives you an incredible high'", The Observer, 29 October 2006.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Marianne Elliott, interview with theatre director who helmed War Horse". The Stage. 20 July 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  5. ^ Chow, Andrew R. (27 November 2017). "Marianne Elliott to Direct Sondheim and Furth's 'Company,' With a Gender Twist". New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Winners List – All Categories". Tony Awards. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Old Stop Marianne Elliott wins Olivier Award | Stockport Grammar School". Stockport Grammar School. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Evening Standard Theatre Awards Winners 2006". LondonTheatre. 27 November 2006. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  9. ^ Thompson, Jessie (19 November 2018). "Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018 - The Winners". Standard. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Marianne Elliot interview: 'There's still no sense that I've arrived. Sad, isn't it?'". Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Emma Thompson made a dame in Queen's Birthday Honours". BBC News. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Poor Super Man", Royal Exchange Theatre. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  13. ^ Royal Exchange Past Productions
  14. ^ National Theatre Past Productions Archived 25 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit