Nunn, Trevor 1940-
NUNN, Trevor 1940-
(Trevor Robert Nunn)
PERSONAL: Born January 14, 1940, in Ipswich, Suffolk, England; son of Robert Alexander Nunn (a cabinetmaker) and Dorothy May (Piper) Nunn; married Janet Suzman (an actress), 1969 (divorced, 1986); married Sharon Lee Hill, 1986 (divorced, 1991); married Imogen Stubbs (an actress), 1994; children: (first marriage) Joshua; (second marriage) Laurie, Amy; (third marriage) Ellie, Jesse. Education: Downing College, Cambridge, B.A., 1962; University of Newcastle upon Tyne, M.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—49B British Grove, London W4 2NL, England.
CAREER: Director, producer, and writer. Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, England, trainee director, 1959–62; Royal Shakespeare Company, Warwickshire, England, director, then associate director, 1964–68, chief executive and artistic director, 1968–78, chief executive and joint artistic director, 1978–86, director emeritus, 1986–; Royal National Theatre, London, artistic director, 1997–2003. Member of British Arts Council, 1994–96. Director of stage productions, including The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, England, 1962–65; A View from the Bridge, Belgrade Theatre, 1962–85; Peer Gynt, Belgrade Theatre, 1962–68; The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew (children's play), Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Aldwych Theatre, London, England, 1965; The Revenger's Tragedy, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, 1965, revived at Aldwych Theatre, 1969; Henry V, Aldwych Theatre, 1965; Tango, RSC, Aldwych Theatre, 1966; Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1966; The Taming of the Shrew, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1967; The Relapse, RSC, Aldwych Theatre, 1967–68; King Lear, RSC, Aldwych Theatre, 1968; Much Ado about Nothing, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1968; The Winter's Tale, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1969; Henry VIII, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1969; Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1970; Coriolanus, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1972; Antony and Cleopatra, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1972; Titus Andronicus, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1972; Macbeth, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1974; Hedda Gabler, RSC, Aldwych Theatre, 1975; Romeo and Juliet, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1976; (with others) The Winter's Tale, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1976; (with others) King Lear, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1976; Macbeth, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1976; As You Like It, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1977; The Alchemist, RSC, Other Place Theatre, 1977; Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, RSC, Festival Hall, London, 1977; Three Sisters, Other Place Theatre, 1978; The Merry Wives of Windsor, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1979; Once in a Lifetime, Aldwych Theatre, 1979; Juno and the Paycock, Aldwych Theatre, 1980; (with John Caird) The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, RSC, Aldwych Theatre, 1980; Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, RSC Barbican Theatre, London, 1982; All's Well That Ends Well, RSC, Barbican Theatre, 1982; Fair Maid of the West, RSC, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1986, then Mermaid Theatre, 1987; Othello, RSC, Other Place Theatre, 1989, then Young Vic Theatre, 1989; Timon of Athens, Young Vic Theatre, 1991; Measure for Measure, RSC, Other Place Theatre, 1991; Heartbreak House, Haymarket Theatre Royal, London, 1992; Arcadia, Royal National Theatre, London, 1993; An Enemy of the People, Olivier Theatre, London, 1996, then Houston, TX, later Los Angeles, CA, 1998; Not about Nightingales, Cottesloe Theatre, London, 1996; Mutabilitie, Cottesloe Theatre, 1997; Betrayal, Royal National Theatre, 1998; Closer, New York, NY, 1999; Amy's View, New York, NY, 1999; Summerfolk, Royal National Theatre, 1999; Rose, New York, NY, 2000; The Cherry Orchard, Royal National Theatre, 2000; Albert Speer, Royal National Theatre, 2000; Copenhagen, New York, NY, 2000–01; The Relapse, Royal National Theatre, 2001; Noises Off, Royal National Theatre, then New York, NY, 2001–02; The Coast of Utopia (trilogy; contains Voyage, Shipwreck, and Salvage), Royal National Theatre, 2002; A Streetcar Named Desire, Royal National Theatre, 2002; Love's Labour's Lost, Royal National Theatre, 2003; The Lady from the Sea, Almeida Theatre, London, 2003; Vincent in Brixton, Royal National Theatre, 2003; The Merchant of Venice; Troilus and Cressida; The Taming of the Shrew (touring production), and Three Sisters.
Director of musicals, including The Comedy of Errors, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, 1976; Cats, New London Theatre, London, 1981, then New York, NY, 1982–2000; Starlight Express, Apollo Victoria Theatre, London, 1984, then New York, NY, 1987; Les Misérables, RSC, Barbican Theatre, 1985, then New York, NY, 1987–90; Chess, Prince Edward Theatre, London, 1986, then New York, NY, 1988; Porgy and Bess, Festival Opera Theatre, Glyndebourne, England, 1986; The Baker's Wife, Phoenix Theatre, London, 1989; Aspects of Love, Prince of Wale's Theatre, London, 1989, then New York, NY, 1990; The Blue Angel, RSC, Other Place Theatre, 1991; Sunset Boulevard, Adelphi Theatre, London, 1993, then New York, NY, 1994; Oklahoma!, Royal National Theatre, London, 1997, then New York, NY, 2002; South Pacific, Royal National Theatre, London, 2001; My Fair Lady, Royal National Theatre, 2001; and Anything Goes, Royal National Theatre, 2003. Director of Cats, Sydney, Australia; director of operas, including Idomenco, 1982, Katya Kabanova, 1994, and Sophie's Choice, 2001.
Artistic director of stage productions for RSC, including Richard II, 1974; Summerfolk, 1975; Sherlock Holmes, 1975; Henry V, 1976; and (with Terry Hands) Much Ado about Nothing, 1984. Actor in stage productions, including Tango, 1966.
Director of films, including Hedda, Brut, 1975; Lady Jane, Paramount, 1985; and Twelfth Night; or, What You Will, Fine Line, 1996. Also stage director for films, including Cats, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, 1998. Director of television specials, including (and producer) Antony and Cleopatra, Associated Television, 1974; The Comedy of Errors, 1976; Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, 1978; (and producer) Macbeth, 1978; Three Sisters, 1978; Shakespeare Workshops Word of Mouth, 1979; (with John Caird) The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) Channel 4, 1982; The Great Hamlets, 1983; The Comedy of Errors, Arts & Entertainment, 1990; Othello, 1990; Porgy and Bess, 1993; Les Misérables in Concert, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), 1996; Oklahoma!, BBC, 1999; and (with Chris Hunt) The Merchant of Venice, BBC2, 2000. Also appeared in television miniseries, including documentary Changing Stages, BBC, 2000.
MEMBER: University Actors (former president), Cambridge University Footlights Club.
AWARDS, HONORS: London Theatre Critics Award, 1966 and 1969; Plays and Players Award for best director, 1969, for The Revenger's Tragedy and The Winter's Tale; Ivor Novello Award for best British musical, 1976; Society of Film and Television Arts Award, 1976; Sydney Edwards Award, 1977–78; named commander, 1978, then knight, 2002, Order of the British Empire; London Evening Standard Award, and Sydney Edwards Award, both for best director, 1979, both for Once in a Lifetime; New Standard Drama Award, 1980; Evening Standard Award, and Olivier Award for best director, Society of London Theatre for best director (both with John Caird), Society of West End Theatre Award, and Sydney Edwards Award, all 1980, all for The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby; Drama Award, 1982; Antoinette Perry ("Tony") Award, 1982; Litt.D., University of Warwick, 1982; Drama Desk Award for best director, 1983, for Cats; Tony Award for best director of a musical (with Caird), 1987, for Les Misérables; Evening Standard Award for best director, 1991, for Timon of Athens; Olivier Award for outstanding achievement, and award for outstanding musical production, both 2002, both for My Fair Lady.
(And author of lyrics, and director) The Comedy of Errors (based on the play by William Shakespeare), produced in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, 1976.
(Author of additional stage lyrics; with Richard Stilgoe; and director) Cats (includes song "Memories" cowritten by Nunn; based on the poetry collection Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot), music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, produced in London, England, 1981.
(Adaptor and director, with John Caird; with Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg) Les Misérables (based on the novel by Victor Hugo; lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, produced in London, England, 1985), score published as Cameron Mackintosh Presents Les Misérables: A Musical, 1986.
The Fair Maid of the West (based on plays by Thomas Middleton; produced in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, 1986), published as An Adaptation of the Two Parts of The Fair Maid of the West, Methuen (London, England), 1986.
(With John Caird) Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up: A Fantasy in Five Acts (based on the story by J.M. Barrie), Dramatist Play Service (New York, NY), 1993.
(Author of foreword) The Royal Shakespeare Company: The Peter Hall Years, by David Addenbrooke, Kimber (London, England), 1974.
(And director) Hedda (screenplay; based on the play Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen), Brut (New York, NY), 1975.
Shakespeare Workshops Word of Mouth (television special), 1979.
(Author of foreword) Playing Shakespeare: An Actor's Guide, by John Barton, Methuen (London, England), 1984, Anchor Books (New York, NY), 2001.
(Author of foreword) At the Sign of the Swan: An Introduction to Shakespeare's Contemporaries, by Judith Cook, Harrap (London, England), 1986.
Porgy and Bess (television special; adapted from the folk opera by George and Ira Gershwin), 1993.
(Author of foreword) The Actor and the Text, revised edition, by Cicely Berry, Virgin (London, England), 1993.
Contributor to British Theatre Design: The Modern Age, edited by John Goodwin, St. Martin's Press, 1989. Author of preface, The National: The Theatre and Its Work 1963–97: And a Chronology of Productions 1963–1997, by Simon Callow, Nick Hern/Royal National Theatre, 1997.
SIDELIGHTS: Best known for his work as a stage director for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the Royal National Theatre in England, Trevor Nunn has been a prominent figure in the world of the theater for decades. Under his leadership, the RSC staged successful productions of such plays as Macbeth and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. As director of London's Royal National Theatre, Nunn helped stage popular musicals, such as Oklahoma! and South Pacific as well as many of the works of William Shakespeare. Although sometimes criticized by the media for too often working on productions of popular standards rather than more daring and new plays, Nunn has argued that it is always necessary to produce popular works that draw large audiences in order to fund less-popular, experimental pieces. In addition to his work as a director, Nunn also gained fame for his contributions to the Broadway hit musicals Les Misérables and Cats. For the latter, he was coauthor of the song "Memories."
According to Patrick Pacheco in a Los Angeles Times interview with Nunn, the director "is alternately regarded with awe or attacked for making buckets of money with commercial vehicles." In interviews, Nunn has bristled at criticism of his choices for his theater, pointing out that productions of hits like My Fair Lady made it possible for him to direct plays like Blue Angel and Copenhagen. As he told Johann Hari in the New Statesman, "The National is an organisation that benefits directly from taxpayers' money. I know of no edict that says that only those taxpayers with degrees in English literature pay for this place."
As a writer, Nunn first made a contribution to the stage by adapting Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors. Nunn turned the show into a musical and transported the action to a modern-day Greek island. His next effort was to collaborate with Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber on Cats, which became the longest-running show on Broadway, and "Memories," the feature song that Nunn helped write, was a popular hit. Next, he adapted the Victor Hugo novel Les Misérables for the stage with the help of John Caird, and created another musical that achieved great popular and critical success. John Bemrose, writing in Maclean's, felt that the stage version "actually out-does Hugo's original text in its portrait of the general unrest of the French poor." Time critic William A. Henry III wrote that "the stage version's triumph is that it captures the book's essence while speaking with absolute clarity to that vast majority of spectators who have not read the novel."
Nunn also wrote and directed a 1996 movie adaptation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Again changing the setting, Nunn moved the action of the play to the late nineteenth century and wrote a new voiceover for the opening scene, in which twins Viola and Sebastian are separated by a shipwreck and each assumes the other is dead. The result is "a movie that flirts in passing with contemporary preoccupations, but in the end is content to know, love, and serve the Bard," according to Donald Lyons writing in Commentary.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
International Dictionary of Theatre, Volume 3: Actors, Directors, and Designers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Newsmakers 2000, issue 2, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.
American Theatre, October, 1993, James Magruder, review of Porgy and Bess, p. 118; December, 2001, review of Playing Shakespeare: An Actor's Guide, p. 76.
Back Stage, April 27, 2001, Mark Shenton, "Trevor Nunn to Leave Britain's National Theatre," p. 3; August 17, 2001, Mark Shenton, "Transforming Britain's National," p. 5; March 14, 2003, Mark Shenton, "And Then There Wasn't Nunn," p. 49.
Commentary, February, 1997, Donald Lyons, review of Twelfth Night, p. 59.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), June 23, 2001, Charles Spencer, "Clever Trevor: Trevor Nunn Has Led the National Theatre to Success after Success, yet Still He Comes under Fire," p. 2.
Entertainment Weekly, November 15, 1996, Ty Burr, review of Twelfth Night, p. 49; July 11, 1997, Eric Richter, review of Twelfth Night, p. 74.
Los Angeles Times, March 17, 2002, Patrick Pacheco, "Rethinking It Through: Trevor Nunn's Radical Reworkings of 'Oklahoma!,' 'My Fair Lady' and Others Stem from His Passion for Challenging the Text," p. F5.
Maclean's, March 27, 1989, John Bemrose, review of Les Misérables, p. 48; November 11, 1996, Brian D. Johnson, review of Twelfth Night, p. 74.
New Leader, March 23, 1987, Leo Sauvage, review of Les Misérables, p. 17.
New Republic, December 2, 1996, Stanley Kauffmann, review of Twelfth Night, p. 40.
New Statesman, October 25, 1996, Jonathan Coe, review of Twelfth Night, p. 39; October 22, 2001, Johann Hari, interview with Nunn, p. 30; January 20, 2003, Amy Rosenthal, review of Anything Goes, p. 44; March 10, 2003, Sheridan Morley, review of Love's Labour's Lost, p. 46; March 17, 2003, Sheridan Morley, review of Honour, p. 46; June 2, 2003, Rosie Millard, interview with Nunn, p. 41, Sheridan Morley, review of The Lady from the Sea, p. 46.
Newsweek, November 4, 1996, David Ansen, review of Twelfth Night, p. 73.
New Yorker, April 1, 2002, John Lahr, "O.K. Chorale: An English Take on Rodgers and Hammerstein," p. 84.
Observer (London, England), March 2, 2003, Susannah Clapp, "So Farewell, Clever Trevor: Trevor Nunn Bows out of the National Theatre with a Martial Production of Love's Labour's Lost," p. 15.
Opera Canada, spring, 2003, Elizabeth Forbes, review of Sophie's Choice, p. 40.
Spectator, July 20, 2002, Toby Young, review of Oklahoma!, p. 40.
Time, March 23, 1987, William A. Henry III, review of Les Misérables, pp. 88-89; October 4, 1993, Christopher Porterfield, review of Porgy and Bess, p. 89.
Time International, April 20, 1998, interview with Nunn, p. 56; September 10, 2001, "Playing a New Part: As Britain's National Theatre Searches for a New Head, Its Future Is a Focus of Intense Drama," p. 74.
Variety, March 17, 1997, Greg Evans, review of Les Misérables, p. 62; June 16, 1997, Matt Wolf, "As Nunn Preps for National Run," p. 39; June 8, 1998, Matt Wolf, "Nunn's National Ambitions," p. 75; August 13, 2001, Matt Wolf, "The National News," p. 56; August 12, 2002, Matt Wolf, review of The Coast of Utopia, pp. 21-22; October 14, 2002, Matt Wolf, review of A Streetcar Named Desire, p. 36.
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (July 8, 2003), "Trevor Nunn."
Royal Shakespeare Company Web site, http://www.rsc.org/ (December 20, 2005), "Trevor Nunn."