On this site you will find my full CV as Director, Actor, Playwright and Teacher, my brief memoir, A Life with Shakespeare, together with a host of downloadable resources including:
edited Shakespeare texts and Shakespeare source material derived from my 18 years as Artistic Director of Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory;
my own plays, and those I have written in collaboration with Dominic Power;
and some of Dominic's own performed work.
From time to time you will see advertised the courses on
that I hold in both Bristol and Cornwall.
A personal appreciation
Like so many of my generation working in the theatre, I was deeply saddened to hear of the death in November last year of Sir Jonathan Miller. Jonathan directed a very much admired HAMLET for Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory in 2008, in a single stroke widening the company’s reach and reputation. That production was a mere breath in an extraordinarily wide-ranging and distinguished career in comedy, medicine, theatre, documentary and opera – few have packed so much into a single life – but it may also be thought that it was a fortunate but rather random moment in stf’s own career.
The truth is that it was Jonathan who inspired, and enabled me to become a Shakespeare actor and director. Had I not been fortunate to be cast by him in student productions of Hamlet and Julius Caesar when he was seeking to establish his own credentials in classical theatre in the early 1970s, or then to be promoted by him in the professional theatre as both actor and director, it is all but certain that I would never have taken the path I did, and certainly never conceived the idea of a Shakespeare company in an old Tobacco Factory. At one remove Jonathan Miller was stf’s chief begetter.
I last met him in February 2017 when his wonderful wife Rachel invited me to have lunch with them in their Camden Town home. It was immediately obvious that his memory was affected – for a disconcerting moment he looked blankly at me on the doorstep – perhaps I had come to read the meter, or urge him to repent – but with the materials of memory nudged back into place, he was himself again; charming, witty, irreverent and at times caustic, his enviable command of language seemingly undimmed. I left that day, so thankful to Rachel for the opportunity to be reacquainted with them both, but rightly fearing that I would not see Jonathan again.
In commentary immediately following his death, I was surprised to hear a reference on the radio to his occasional cruelty to those he worked with. Sadly, there are many directors who find whipping boys on whom to unload their frustrations and insecurities, but in the five productions of his that I performed in, I never witnessed anything of the kind, nor have I ever heard it said of him before. His command of language could run away with him, and he could never resist the witty but outrageous comment when interviewed by the press or by Michael Parkinson. The world of opera was a particular target; I remember him musing that he could never understand a director wishing to put ‘such an inert mass’ at the centre of his production, or talking of the ‘dinosaur’ sopranos who normally held the stage. The ‘inert mass’ in question was Luciano Pavarotti, and the ‘dinosaurs’ almost comparably distinguished. This failure to self-censor made for entertaining television, but probably hurt him professionally and made enemies of those that would never encounter him in the rehearsal room where, face to face, he was unfailingly courteous, warm and generous; and anyone and everyone was a fit partner – if often a largely silent one – in an urgent and untiring debate about art, science and politics. We were charmed and stimulated – and often helpless with laughter.
Kate Bassett’s 2012 biography – In Two Minds – is an engrossing account of Jonathan’s astonishing achievement. When I picked it up (I had contributed a few small details to it myself) I expected to recognise every event, every programme, every production. But I discovered I had known only a fraction of the whole.
He was a very remarkable man indeed, and I owe him more than I can express.
I am an English actor, theatre director and author, perhaps best known for the creation of the Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory (stf) company in Bristol in 1999.
I have taught, freelance, at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the University of Bristol, and am a Patron of Warwick’s Shakespeare Young Company, and of the Bridge Foundation for Psychotherapy and the Arts. During 2013 I received an Honorary D.Litt from the University of Bristol for my services to theatre in the City.
I stepped down from stf in 2017 to pursue a freelance career as director, actor and writer.
Background & Education
I was born in Bolton, Lancashire, and educated at Bolton School. I read English at Churchill College, Cambridge, studying under George Steiner and Michael Long. I worked as a student actor for Jonathan Miller in productions of Hamlet and Julius Caesar and then entered the professional theatre as a trainee director at Bernard Miles' Mermaid Theatre in London. There I worked from 1971 to 1975, much of my time writing and directing plays about science for the theatre's educational wing, the Molecule Theatre. I became a Mermaid Associate Director in 1974.
In 1975 I joined the Greenwich Company as an actor, quickly followed by a 3-year contract with the National Theatre, beginning at the London Old Vic and moving to the new complex on the South Bank. There I appeared in the Peter Hall/Albert Finney Hamlet and Tamburlaine the Great, the John Schlesinger/John Gielgud Julius Caesar, Elijah Moshinky's production of Troilus & Cressida (as Diomedes), and Michael Blakemore's production of Ben Travers’ Plunder.
I then joined the Bristol Old Vic company for the first time in 1978, where I have played in over twenty productions, roles including Haig and the Sergeant-Major in Oh What a Lovely War!, Flavius in Timon of Athens, Agamemnon in Troilus & Cressida, Kershaw in Destiny, Ludwig in Cabaret, Major Booth Voysey in The Voysey Inheritance, Tim in Ten Times Table, Ross in The Crucifer of Blood, Sullen in The Beaux Stratagem, Charleson in Plenty, Polixenes in The Winter's Tale and Andrew Wyke in Sleuth. It was there in 1983 that I met my wife-to-be, the stage manager and artist, Diana Favell.
There followed several years of TV and radio work, interspersed with theatre jobs in Manchester (Frank in Educating Rita) and York (Bill in Woman in Mind), a UK tour of The Royal Hunt of the Sun, a British Council tour of the Far and Middle East, and a return to Bristol to play Lionel & Parrot in the premiere of Peter Nichols' Blue Murder for the Show of Strength Company.
Film & TV : 20 Select Credits
Richard The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, Carnival Productions, Roger Michell
Alec Spencer New Tricks, BBC TV, Paul Seed
Brian Oliver Casualty, BBC TV, Tim Holloway
Dineage One Foot in the Grave, BBC TV, Christine Gernon
Melford Stevenson Ruth Ellis: A Life for a Life, BBC TV, Farren Blackburn
Peter Gilmore A Likeness in Stone, BBC TV, Charles Beeson
Archdale The Wyvern Mystery, BBC TV, Alex Pillai
Philip Webster London Bridge, c. 20 episodes, Carlton TV, various
Hugo Patterson The Politician’s Wife, Producers Prods, Graham Theakston
Dr Matthews The Brittas Empire, BBC TV, Mike Stephens
D.C.S. Wisley The Bill, Thames TV, Chris Lovett
Barrington Ricketts Joint Account, 8 episodes, BBC TV, Mike Stephens
Military Interviewer A Perfect Spy, BBC TV, Peter Smith
Stephen’s Father The Children of Dynmouth, BBC TV, Peter Hammond
Soames A Very Peculiar Practice, BBC TV, David Tucker
Henderson Howards’ Way, 4 episodes, BBC TV, various
Group Captain The Winds of War, Paramount, Dan Curtis
Ebert The Professionals, LWT, Denis Lewiston
Lucilius Julius Caesar, BBC TV, Herbert Wise
Stephen Salter A Most Public Affair, BBC TV, Michael Latham
Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory (stf)
In 1989 Diana Favell and I joined a group of actors, writers and directors to start the first regular pub theatre in Bristol, dedicated largely to new writing. The company, Show of Strength, found the Hen & Chicken pub in the Southville area of the city and inaugurated winter seasons there that were to last for six years and attract national attention.
I directed six productions for the company – the world premières of Tales of the Undead by Dominic Power, and Let's Do It and Rough Music by James Wilson; the UK premieres of Michael Gow's Away and Brian Friel's Living Quarters; and an in-the-round production of Measure for Measure. In 1998, after Diana and I had both left the company, Show of Strength moved its operation to the Tobacco Factory – then in process of restoration and redevelopment by George Ferguson – and it was this that inspired us to create Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory in 1999.
stf began as a commercial venture and survived as such for five spring seasons at the Factory, winning a Peter Brook/Empty Space Award in 2001 and culminating in the transfer of the 2004 season of Macbeth and The Changeling to the Barbican's Pit Theatre. The company was then reformed as a charity, as it now continues. In addition to spring seasons at the Factory it has co-produced twice with the Bristol Old Vic, played at the Galway Festival, and toured to several UK cities, and to Craiova in Romania and Neuss in Germany.
While Shakespeare has clearly been my main focus, my three Chekhov productions – Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard – have attracted high praise.
I have long worked in collaboration with the playwright, Dominic Power, who has edited Shakespeare with me and has contributed new scenes to Measure for Measure, The Changeling, The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The School for Scandal and All’s Well that Ends Well. We now work together – as ‘H&P Playwrights’ – on new projects, the first being a stage adaptation of James Hogg’s novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, and a music-theatre version of Chekhov’s short story, The Lady with the Little Dog.
I have also enjoyed longstanding collaborations with the designers James Helps, Andrea Montag, Vicki Cowan-Ostersen and Harriet de Winton, the lighting designers Andy Collins, Tim Streader, Paul Towson and Matthew Graham, and the composer & sound designers, Dan Jones, Elizabeth Purnell and John Telfer.
Praise for stf’s work has been fulsome in the national press. In 2001 Jeremy Kingston in The Times called it “one of the most exciting theatre companies in the land”; in 2005 Lyn Gardner of The Guardian added “one of the great tellers of Shakespeare” and in 2013 Susannah Clapp in The Observer dubbed it “the Shakespearean powerhouse”.
Gillfins by Dominic Power (Mind's Eye Theatre at the Old Red Lion, 1982)
Tales of the Undead by Dominic Power (Show of Strength 1989)
Let's Do It by James Wilson (Show of Strength 1990)
Living Quarters by Brian Friel (Show of Strength 1991)
Measure for Measure by Shakespeare (Show of Strength 1992)
Away by Michael Gow (Show of Strength 1993)
Serious Money by Caryl Churchill (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School 1996)
Rough Music by James Wilson (Show of Strength 1996)
King Lear and A Midsummer Night's Dream (stf 2000)
Measure for Measure and Coriolanus (stf 2001 - Peter Brook/Empty Space Award))
The Winter's Tale and Twelfth Night (stf 2002)
Troilus & Cressida and As You Like It (stf 2003)
Macbeth and Middleton & Rowley's The Changeling (stf 2004 in Bristol and at the Barbican Pit)
Pericles and Chekhov's Three Sisters (stf 2005)
Titus Andronicus and Love's Labours Lost (stf 2006)
Othello and Much Ado about Nothing (stf 2007)
The Taming of the Shrew (stf 2008)
Julius Caesar and Antony & Cleopatra (stf 2009)
Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (stf/Bristol Old Vic Co-production, 2009, and Galway Festival 2010)
The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream (stf 2010)
Molière/Tony Harrison'sThe Misanthrope (stf/Bristol Old Vic Co-production, Theatre Royal, 2010)
Richard II (stf 2011)
The Comedy of Errors (stf and Exeter Northcott, 2011)
King Lear (stf 2012)
Chekhov'sThe Cherry Orchard andOn the Evils of Tobacco (stf and Kingston Rose 2012)
Richard III (stf 2013)
Two Gentlemen of Verona (stf & National Tour 2013)
As You Like It (stf & National Tour 2014)
Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia (stf 2014)
Sheridan’sThe School for Scandal (stf 2015)
Brian Friel’s Living Quarters (a Tobacco Factory Theatres/stf co-production 2015)
Hamlet and All’s Well that Ends Well (stf and national and international tours 2016)
Molière’sTartuffe in a new version by Andrew Hilton and Dominic Power (stf 2017)
Novello & Son by Arnold Evans, performed by Rosamund Shelley (various venues, 2019 & 2020)
Sparks! (Mermaid Theatre and UK tour 1974; revived 1975, 1977, 1979, 1982)
The Patent-Office Robbery (Mermaid Theatre and UK tour 1978; revived 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987)
Fire Island (Mermaid Theatre and UK Tour 1984; revived 1985)
Chekhov’s Gun (Radio 3 Talk in the Essay Series on directing Uncle Vanya, 2010)
Shakespeare on the Factory Floor, a book about Shakespeare production, scheduled for publication by Nick Hern Books in 2020.
Co-Authorship with Dominic Power: Tartuffe, after Molière (Tobacco Factory 2017); The Justified Sinner (completed 2019, a stage adaptation of James Hogg’s novel, The Private Memoirs & Confessions of a Justified Sinner); and (in preparation) Lady with Dog, a music-theatre version of Chekhov’s The Lady with the Little Dog.
Explore great Shakespeare texts with me to gain insight into theatrical as well as academic
techniques of interpretation. To date (Spring, 2020) I have conducted highly successful courses on Macbeth (Bristol), King Lear (Mousehole, Cornwall), The Winter’s Tale (Bristol University), As You Like It (Mousehole), and Measure for Measure (Bristol University). The Bristol courses have been held on one evening over 6-8 weeks, and the Mousehole courses as week-long events, conducted in the beautiful Solomon Browne hall.
Despite the theatrical emphasis, these are not actors’ workshops, but are devised specifically for Shakespeare's audience and readership. On each course I am joined by one or more actors from the stf company to add variety to the sessions and explore alternative readings.
'what I hoped, and was looking for … to study the play from the point of view of an experienced director … insightful and more revealing as time went on.' [Macbeth, 2014]
'a hugely informative and enjoyable week, facilitated by a skilled and knowledgeable tutor and organiser, and a great group of participants.' [King Lear, 2016]
'the use of actors really helped me understand the creative process that goes on in producing, directing and realising the play … far exceeded my expectations' [The Winter’s Tale, 2018]
'beautifully managed and timed ... we learnt so much about context, Shakespearian English and, thanks to your direction and our young actress, how to read better.' [As You Like It, 2019]
'It's amazing how much is new in a play I've often enjoyed and thought I knew ... met my expectations completely.' [Measure for Measure, 2019]
Further courses are dependent on the outcome of the corona virus emergency.
Here I offer a number of edited Shakespeare texts, and – alongside them – my own editions of some of Shakespeare's principal source texts in accessible, modern-spelling pdf versions for you to read or download.
The play edits range from small tweaks to language, to cuts and narrative clarifications, to more extensive interventions which amount to versions of the plays, the most radical being Dominic's versions of Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well.
All's Well That Ends Well
Version of the play by Dominic Power,
as performed by Shakespeare at the
Tobacco Factory in 2016.
Lavatch is transformed from a Shakespearian
clown into Bertram's music & dancing master;
and the Florentine wars sequence is
"A Shakespeare 'problem play' made
good" – Mark Kidel, The Arts Desk
Eleanor Yates as Helena Photo: Kristoph Krey
Sources for All's Well that Ends Well:
Juliet of Narbona (from The Decameron) Excerpt from Painter's The Palace of Pleasure
As You Like It
Edited text of As You Like It as
performed by Shakespeare at the
Tobacco Factory in 2014.
Shakespeare's main source for the
play, Thomas Lodge's prose
Not by Shakespeare, of course, but by his great
contemporaries, Thomas Middleton &
A radical version by Dominic Power which
integrates plot and sub-plot to powerful effect.
"you get, as if newly minted, the free- floating madness of Middleton and Rowley's play"
Susannah Clapp, The Observer
Jamie Ballard as Antonio Photo: Graham Wyles
The Comedy of Errors
Version by Dominic Power, including a
number of new songs and the earlier
introduction of both the Courtesan and
Antipholus of Ephesus, in an extension to
Act 1 Scene 2.
‘ 'a revelation. This early play is more than a comedy. Voltaire announced that
Shakespeare was a barbarian because his
tragedies had comic scenes; the great Gallic
sage would have been appalled to see a
shadow of fear hung over this improbable
s story … unmissable’
John Peter, The Sunday Times
Gareth Kennerley as Antipholus of Ephesus Photo: Hide the Shark
My own edition of the play, made for
production at the Tobacco Factory in
A modern-spelling edition of the 1st –
'Bad' – Quarto.
Shakespeare's principal sources, in
my own modern-spelling versions.
Measure for Measure
Another radical version by Dominic Power,
with a new scene for Mariana and the Duke, and the staging of the midnight tryst
between Mariana and Angelo.
'my companion, who arrived full of grumbles at a
play he considered preposterous, left in tears.'
Susannah Clapp, The Observer
A Source: The First Part of Promos &Cassandra
by George Whetstone, 1578
Peter Clifford as the Duke Photo: Alan Moore
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Version by Dominic Power, with new material for Launce, some narrative reorganisation and
several new songs.
'an unblinking portrait of love’s madness.'
Elizabeth Davis, The Independent
Piers Hampton as Proteus & Dorothea Myer-Bennett as Julia
Photo: Hide the Shark
The Taming of the Shrew
Version by Dominic Power, with a completely
original Epilogue – unrecognised as such by
the critics – to complete the Christopher Sly
‘… Bill Wallis, as the hoodwinked drunk
Christopher Sly, touchingly grunts and
tumbles his way through not only the
familiar Induction but also the rarely seen
Epilogue, neatly inserted from an early Quarto.’ Peter Patston, Bath Chronicle
‘I wish more directors retained the
prologue and epilogue; they make the play
echo as a cunning, sophisticated fantasy
rather than theatrical marriage guidance.'
John Peter, Sunday Times
Saskia Portway as Katherina Photo: Graham Burke
PLAYS & BOOKS
Find here plays and other writings, published and unpublished, by Dominic Power, Allan Monkhouse, and myself.
Tartuffe, by Andrew Hilton & Dominic Power Read or download here the first half of this new
version of Moliere's play, premiered by
Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory in 2017.
Moliere's central character, Orgon, is
reimagined as Charles Ogden, a junior
Minister in Theresa May's cabinet, enjoying a
mid-life crisis and falling for a political hoaxer's
Written in rhyming couplets.
"a wildly entertaining script" – Plays International
The full published text is available
The Justified Sinner by Andrew Hilton &
A new stage adaptation of James Hogg's
wonderful 1824 novel, The Private Memoirs &
Confessions of a Justified Sinner, about a
radical Calvinist falling into the hands of the
Read or download the 1st part here.
James Hogg, portrait by W. Nicholson
Chekhov's Gun by Andrew Hilton
A talk broadcast by BBC Radio 3 in January
2010, following the stf/BOV co-production of
Anton Chekhov, portrait by Osip Braz
Tales of the Undead by Dominic Power
It is 15 years since the happy conclusion of
Bram Stoker's Dracula. But Jonathan Harker,
its troubled hero, is again in thrall to the
voluptuous vampire he met in Transylvania.
With his marriage on the rocks, he is
persuaded to seek help from Havelock Ellis,
real-life author of Studies in the Psychology of
Sex which so scandalised Edwardian society.
Will Ellis dare to aid him by entering the
terrible dream world of the Undead?
Premiered in Bristol in 1989
"an erotic postscript to Bram Stoker ...
excruciatingly funny" The Guardian
The Patent Office Robbery by Andrew Hilton
A play about basic mechanics (levers, screws,
pulleys, etc) commissioned by the Mermaid
Theatre's 'Molecule Theatre of Science' for
a young audience, first produced in 1978 and
toured extensively in the U.K.
An embittered engineer steals a huge steel
safe from a 1st Floor office in the Patent Office.
See the full text here ...
Richard Bremmer as Leonard Crisp
The Conquering Hero by Allan Monkhouse
This remarkable anti-war play was written
during the course of the 1st WW, but not
performed until 1926. Shakespeare at the
Tobacco Factory gave it a staged reading in
2014. In my opinion it ranks with Sherriff's
Journey's End and deserves to be more
widely known and produced. It is out of
copyright, which is why I am able to
reproduce it here.
Piers Hampton as Christopher & Samantha Barron
as Helen. Photo: Craig Fuller
Gillfins by Dominic Power Five devotees of the 'Gillfins Group' gather for a public celebration of the centenary of its central figure, the novelist Cecilia Brindle, but sinister forces intervene to (literally) bring the house down. Spoiler alert: devotees of the Bloomsbury Group may be outraged. Premiered at London's Old Red Lion in 1982.
'... Patrons are assured that there is nothing in the least fishy about Cecilia Brindle's oeuvre; and no truth whatsoever in rumours that the current tribute is being sabotaged by supernatural forces'
Ros Franey, City Limits
The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan in a version by Dominic Power
The Money-lender, Moses, is replaced by the Banker, Credit, and Dominic provides a song for Maria, and a new Prologue and Epilogue for Backbite.
Produced as the second play in stf's 2015 Season.
My own memoir of 'A Life with Shakespeare'