19 January 2015
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.
A graduate of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Simon 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.
Commenting on his appointment, Simon 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.’
The Master of St Catherine’s College, Professor Roger Ainsworth, 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.’
In addition to a public event to mark Simon’s professorship, he will be undertaking student workshops in the art of theatre.
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Notes to Editors:
The Mackintosh Foundation was established by Sir Cameron Mackintosh in 1988 to promote and develop theatre and the performing arts; to provide relief for the homeless, to relieve suffering of and promote research into the causes and treatment of AIDS; and to provide for medical research and relief of sickness.
The Cameron Mackintosh Drama Fund for Contemporary Theatre has helped some of the University’s brightest young actors, directors, producers, and writers to stage shows during the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh was knighted for services to the British Theatre in 1996 and is an Honorary Fellow of St Catherine’s College, Oxford.
The Professorship is for one academic year only. Usually the tenure is marked by a public event where the incumbent presents their views on an aspect of contemporary theatre. In addition, workshops or seminars involving students take place throughout the year. However, it is very much up to the individual concerned as to how they approach their tenure as Cameron Mackintosh Professor. No teaching obligation is attached to the role.