Marianne Elliott (director)
Marianne Phoebe Elliott, OBE (born 27 December 1966) is a British theatre director.
Marianne Phoebe Elliott
27 December 1966
London, England, UK
|Parent(s)||Rosalind Knight |
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. 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". Despite this early ambivalence, she studied drama at Hull University, but used "to sneak into English lectures because she found them more interesting".
Elliott'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."
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, 1995–2002Edit
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", and she worked her way up including 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.
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" 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. 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, 2016 –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) which garnered mixed reviews and poor houses; an inauspicious start to the collaboration. Elliott & Harper became co-producers of the National Theatre's Broadway transfer of Angels in America which opened in March 2018, also directed by Elliott. The company's latest West End production was Company in which Bobbie was played by a woman. It opened at the Gielgud Theatre in September 2018 and the cast included Rosalie Craig as Bobbie 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 Bobbie to be a woman." Elliott & Harper have also produced a new adaptation of C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with Catherine Schreiber and West Yorkshire Playhouse. Directed by Sally Cookson, it ran at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until 27 January 2018 and transferred to the Bridge Theatre in London for Christmas 2019. It is due to go on a UK tour in Christmas 2021. In 2019, Elliott co-directed Death of a Salesman alongside Miranda Cromwell, which starred Wendell Pierce and Sharon D. Clarke at the Young Vic Theatre with an all-black Loman family. In autumn 2019, the production transferred to the Piccadilly Theatre and performed to rave reviews and sold-out out audiences, despite the ceiling collapse at the Piccadilly Theatre in November 2019. On March 2020, Elliott's Olivier-award winning production of Company was due to open at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre on Broadway on Stephen Sondheim's 90th Birthday Birthday. Sadly, the production was forced to close, along with the rest of Broadway, after just 12 previews as a result of the spread of Covid-19. The production is due to return to Broadway in the second half of 2021. Elliott most recently directed Tamsin Greig and Harriet Walter in the new version of Talking Heads by Alan Bennett for the BBC in 2020.
Elliott 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." 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 then-record six 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. In 2015, she won the award 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. In 2018 Elliott won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play for Angels in America at the Neil Simon Theatre.
For The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, she won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director in 2013. In 2019 her production of Company won 4 Olivier Awards including Best Musical Revival. She has won Best Director at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards twice: first in 2006 for Pillars of the Community and again in 2018 Company.
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?".
Selected theatre productionsEdit
- Company by Stephen Sondheim at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway with Katrina Lenk and Patti Lupone which was due to open on Sondheim's 90th Birthday on the (22 March 2020)
- Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller co-directed with Miranda Cromwell at the Young Vic Theatre and Piccadilly Theatre, starring Wendell Pierce and Sharon D. Clarke in (2019)
- Company by Stephen Sondheim at the Gielgud Theatre with Rosalie Craig, Patti LuPone and Mel Giedroyc (2018).
- Angels in America by Tony Kushner at the National Theatre with Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield (2017).
- Husbands & Sons by D. H. Lawrence. A co-production between the National Theatre and the Royal Exchange with Anne-Marie Duff (2015)
- The Light Princess (Musical) by George MacDonald adaptation by Samuel Adamson and lyrics and music by Tori Amos at the National Theatre (2013)
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the National Theatre (2012) with Luke Treadaway, Nicola Walker and Niamh Cusack and which won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play.
- Season's Greetings by Alan Ayckbourn at the National Theatre with Oliver Chris, Mark Gatiss, Catherine Tate and David Troughton (2010)
- Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton at the National Theatre with Harriet Walter and Raymond Coulthard (2009)
- All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare at the National Theatre with Michelle Terry, Clare Higgins, Oliver Ford Davies, Conleth Hill and George Rainsford (2009)
- Mrs Affleck by Samuel Adamson at the National Theatre with Claire Skinner and Angus Wright (2009)
- Harper Regan by Simon Stephens at the National Theatre with Lesley Sharp and Michael Mears (2008)
- War Horse adapted by Nick Stafford (co-directed with Tom Morris) at the National Theatre with Angus Wright with Bronagh Gallagher, Patrick O'Kane and Alan Williams (2007)
- Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw at the National Theatre with Anne-Marie Duff (Evening Standard Award), Angus Wright, Michael Thomas and Paterson Joseph (2007)
- Therese Raquin adapted by Nicholas Wright at the National Theatre with Charlotte Emerson, Ben Daniels, Patrick Kennedy and Judy Parfitt (2006)
- Pillars of the Community by Henrik Ibsen (Evening Standard Award for Best Director) at the National Theatre with Damian Lewis, Lesley Manville and Joseph Millson (2005)
- Port by Simon Stephens (Pearson Award). World premiere at the Royal Exchange, Manchester with Emma Lowndes (MEN Award) and Andrew Sheridan (2002)
- Design for Living by Noël Coward at the Royal Exchange, Manchester with Victoria Scarborough, Ken Bones and Oliver Milburn (2002)
- The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman at the Donmar Warehouse with Penelope Wilton, David Calder, Peter Guinness and Matthew Marsh (2001)
- Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry. Directed by Greg Hersov and Marianne Elliott with Paterson Joseph (2001)
- As You Like It at the Royal Exchange, Manchester with Claire Price, Tristan Sturrock, Jonathan Slinger, Fenella Woolgar and Peter Guinness (2000)
- A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde at the Royal Exchange, Manchester with Gaye Brown (2000)
- Nude With Violin by Noël Coward at the Royal Exchange, Manchester with Derek Griffiths, John Bennett and Rosalind Knight (1999)
- Martin Yesterday by Brad Fraser. European premiere at the Royal Exchange, Manchester with Ian Gelder and Ben Daniels (1999)
- The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan at the Royal Exchange, Manchester with Susan Wooldridge and David Fielder (1997)
- Poor Super Man by Brad Fraser. British premiere at the Royal Exchange, Manchester (MEN Award) with Sam Graham (MEN Award) and Luke Williams (MEN Award) (1997)
- I Have Been Here Before by J B Priestley at the Royal Exchange, Manchester with David Horovitch and George Costigan (1996)
Elliott married the actor Nick Sidi in 2002; they have one daughter.
- Kellaway, Kate (29 October 2006). "Theatre: Kate Kellaway asks why is Marianne Elliott so little-known?". The Guardian.
- Lisa O'Kelly "Marianne Elliott: 'Why do something that's run of the mill?'" The Observer, 3 February 2013.
- Kate Kellaway "'When it goes well it is like falling in love. It gives you an incredible high'", The Observer, 29 October 2006.
- "Marianne Elliott, interview with theatre director who helmed War Horse". The Stage. 20 July 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
- Chow, Andrew R. (27 November 2017). "Marianne Elliott to Direct Sondheim and Furth's 'Company,' With a Gender Twist". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
- "Winners List – All Categories". Tony Awards. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- "Old Stop Marianne Elliott wins Olivier Award | Stockport Grammar School". Stockport Grammar School. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
- "Evening Standard Theatre Awards Winners 2006". LondonTheatre. 27 November 2006. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
- Thompson, Jessie (19 November 2018). "Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018 - The Winners". Evening Standard. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
- "Marianne Elliot interview: 'There's still no sense that I've arrived. Sad, isn't it?'". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
- "Emma Thompson made a dame in Queen's Birthday Honours". BBC News. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
- "Poor Super Man", Royal Exchange Theatre. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Royal Exchange Past Productions
- National Theatre Past Productions Archived 25 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine