Paulette Randall

Paulette Randall, MBE (born 1961) is a British theatre director of Jamaican descent.[1] She was chair of the board of Clean Break Theatre Company in 2006–07, and is former artistic director of the Talawa Theatre Company. She was the associate director for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.[1][2]


Paulette Randall was born in south London to Jamaican parents.[3] She attended Saint Jude's Primary and Dick Shepherd Secondary School in Brixton.[4] When she was 11 she started helping out in a shop on Saturdays and she has said: "It was working in Brixton market that was my real first understanding of theatre, just the characters you met and stories you heard."[5] She subsequently went to drama school at the age of 18, training to be an actress at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama.[6] After graduating in 1982, she and two fellow students – Bernardine Evaristo and Patricia Hilaire – set up their own company, called Theatre of Black Women,[7] in response to the lack of roles for black actors at the time.[8]

She was Associate Director of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, working alongside Danny Boyle.[5] According to London's Evening Standard: "Knowing her theatrical pedigree – Randall, 49, has directed August Wilson's plays, which celebrate the African American experience and is a former artistic director of black theatre company, Talawa'; her TV credits include Desmond's (Channel 4) and The Real McCoy (BBC2) – makes you wonder whether she can claim credit for the multicultural flavour of the show."[9]

In 2013 Randall became the first female black director to bring a production to the West End with Wilson's Fences, starring Lenny Henry, at the Duchess Theatre.[10][5]

Awards and recognitionEdit

Randall was appointed an MBE in 2015 for services to drama,[11][12] and was awarded an honorary degree from Brunel University in the same year.[13][14]

In 2016 she was given a lifetime achievement award for her work as a director and playwright in film and TV at the inaugural WOW Creative Industries Awards, presented by the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre.[15][16][17]

Selected projectsEdit

Royal Court Theatre
  • Directed Blest Be the Tie by Doña Daley (2004). "Daley's concerns emerge naturally through her characters rather than hammering an agenda, and director Paulette Randall (whose Talawa company here co-produces with the Royal Court) gets her cast – Marion Bailey, Lorna Gayle and Ellen Thomas – to turn in performances which all engage in different ways."[18]
  • Directed What's in the Cat by Linda Brogan (2005). "What's in the Cat is painfully slow for its first 45 minutes but once the knives are drawn, picks up to become a fascinating kitchen sink drama about the life of a highly volatile, mixed-race family in Manchester in the 1970s."[19]
Other theatres
  • Directed Urban Afro Saxons (2003). "Talawa's latest production is subtitled 'What Makes You British?' and is a timely contribution to the controversial debate spawned not only by Blunkett's proposed citizenship tests but the burning questions raised by racism in the police force."[20]
  • Directed Blues for Mister Charlie, by James Baldwin, 2004. "Blues For Mr Charlie may last for around three hours but the tension never drops. It would make a tremendous contribution to any debate on racism and its most terrifying facet is that it is set merely a generation ago."[21]
  • Directed Gem of the Ocean, by August Wilson (2003, Los Angeles; 2004, New York; 2006, London). "...the scene is brilliantly staged, complete with chanting and gospel singing, as it re-enacts a slave-ship journey back to the African ancestral home."[22]
  • Directed Fences, by August Wilson, starring Lenny Henry, at the Duchess Theatre (19 June–14 September 2013).[10]
  • Produced Desmond's (1989).
  • Produced Porkpie (1995).
  • Produced the second series of The Crouches (2004–05). "The first series of this sitcom wasn't seen by many and was critically mauled by the press, the BBC gave it a second chance and used new writers for series 2."[23]


  1. ^ a b "Paulette Randall sets the Jamaican Olympic stage", Jamaica Observer, 2 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Congratulations to Paulette Randall for a wonderful opening Olympic ceremony", Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance, 2 August 2012.
  3. ^ Matt Wolf, "‘Hedley’ ahead", Variety, 29 September 2002.
  4. ^ "Paulette Randall", in Pride of Black British Women; 1995, p. 53. EBSCOhost Connection.
  5. ^ a b c Nosheen Iqbal, "Paulette Randall interview: 'You never know what's around the corner, do you?'" The Guardian, 9 July 2013.
  6. ^ Jennifer Rock interviews Paulette Randall, director of stage play Radio Golf, at the Tricycle Theatre, Theatre News, 5 August 2009.
  7. ^ "Theatre of Black Women", Unfinished Histories: Recording the History of Alternative Theatre.
  8. ^ Vic Motune, "Let The Games Begin!", The Voice, 27 July 2012.
  9. ^ Liz Hoggard, "Team DB: the people who helped create Danny Boyle's extraordinary vision – Paulette Randall", Evening Standard, 30 July 2012.
  10. ^ a b Pamela Jikiemi, "Interview with Paulette Randall", Female Arts, 17 May 2013.
  11. ^ Onibada, Ade (19 June 2015). "First black female West End director honoured by the Queen". The Voice. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Queen's birthday honours list 2015: MBE". The Guardian. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2016. Ms Paulette Randall. Theatre director and Producer. For services to Drama. (London)
  13. ^ "Shami recognised in week of graduation ceremonies". Brunel University London. 14 July 2015. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2016. Other honorary graduands to be recognised this week include TV and theatre director Paulette Randall MBE, who is awarded the Doctorate of Humanities for her outstanding service to film, television and theatre
  14. ^ "Paulette Randall MBE receiving her Honorary Degree from Brunel University London Mon 13 July 2015", YouTube.
  15. ^ "WOW Creative Industries Awards", Southbank Centre.
  16. ^ Daisy Bowie-Sell, "Paulette Randall and Bryony Kimmings win WOW Creative Industries Awards", WhatsOnStage, 9 March 2016.
  17. ^ Georgia Snow, "Paulette Randall wins lifetime achievement award for women in the arts", The Stage, 9 March 2016.
  18. ^ Ian Shuttleworth, Blest Be the Tie review, Financial Times, 2004.
  19. ^ Philip Fisher, What's in the Cat review, British Theatre Guide.
  20. ^ Jackie Fletcher, Urban Afro Saxons review, British Theatre Guide.
  21. ^ Philip Fisher, Blues for Mister Charlie review, British Theatre Guide.
  22. ^ Neil Dowden, Gem of the Ocean review, CurtainUp, 2006.
  23. ^ "The Crouches", The British Comedy Guide.

External linksEdit