Simon Russell Beale has been named as the next Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre, based at St Catherine's College at the University of Oxford.
The actor and music historian will succeed Stephen Fry in February 2015. He will speak at a public event and undertake student workshops in the art of theatre.
He said: 'I am hugely looking forward to my year as Visiting Professor, and feel very honoured to have been asked. It allows me to indulge, even further, my obsessive interest in Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and I hope that the students I meet will enjoy our working together. I know for certain that I will learn a huge amount.'
Professor Roger Ainsworth, Master of St Catherine’s College, said: 'We feel immensely privileged to be welcoming Simon Russell Beale to St Catherine's, and I am delighted that he has agreed to take on the role of Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre. Simon’s impressive list of stage and screen acting credits span a remarkably diverse career, which has included theatre, television, film, and radio. Our students will be very fortunate indeed to have the opportunity to learn from such a versatile actor.'
Simon Russell Beale is a graduate of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He was first drawn to performance as a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral School. He made his stage debut aged fourteen at the Redgrave Theatre at Clifton College, Bristol, where he performed in Othello. His diverse career has spanned theatre, television, film, and radio, and he has taken on some of the most distinguished roles in theatre including the title roles in King Lear at the Olivier Theatre and Hamlet at the Lyttelton Theatre.
An Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, his many accolades include a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in Henry IV Parts I & II and a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in Uncle Vanya. Simon was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2003 for services to the Arts. From May to July 2015, Simon will star in Temple, a new play at the Donmar Warehouse about the 2011 United Kingdom anti-austerity protests.
The Chair of Contemporary Theatre, founded through a grant from the Mackintosh Foundation at St Catherine's College, aims to promote interest in, and the study and practice of, contemporary theatre. The Visiting Professorship has previously been held by actors, writers, directors, and producers including Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Miller, Alan Ayckbourn, Richard Eyre, Phyllida Lloyd and Patrick Stewart.