Deborah Warner
Deborah Warner CBE

Claire Egan

Deborah Warner named as Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre

Deborah Warner CBE will succeed Sir Tom Stoppard as the 27th Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University.

The renowned director of theatre and opera will take up the post in January 2019.

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 Arthur Miller, Alan Ayckbourn, Richard Eyre, Stephen Sondheim, Phyllida Lloyd, Richard Attenborough, Nick Hytner, Ian Mckellen, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Tom Stoppard.

The late Professor Roger Ainsworth, Master of St Catherine’s College, said: “We are extremely excited to know that Deborah Warner will be arriving as our new Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre in January. Her breadth of stellar directing will be of immense interest to our community, and a great help to the student population."

Cameron Mackintosh said “Having hoped for many years that Deborah Warner would be available to accept the Chair of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine’s, I’m delighted that she is now able to be our 27th Professor. Deborah continues a long line of distinguished directors who have held this post. Her memorable early work at the Royal Shakespeare Company and then the National Theatre established her as an innovative reinventor of the classics and, more recently, her extensive directing work in opera houses all over the world brings a new dimension to this Chair.”

Deborah Warner said: “I am delighted and honoured to follow such an illustrious list of chair-holders, and take up the 2019 Cameron Mackintosh Chair of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford. At a moment of such change and uncertainty in Britain and beyond, the nurture and encouragement of future generations of theatre-makers seems more important than ever. I look forward to working closely with the students, offering what benefit I may from my experience across the disciplines of theatre, opera and installation. My own involvement in theatre began in Oxford, so it is with particular pleasure I return to this wonderful city and great University.”

Deborah’s career started in 1980, when she founded the Kick Theatre Company, which took a play to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival each year. Since then, the majority of Deborah’s work has focused on major classics of spoken drama and opera.

In 1987 Deborah joined the Royal Shakespeare Company as Resident Director, and from 1989-1997, Deborah was an Associate Director at the National Theatre. Over her career, Deborah has collaborated with actor Fiona Shaw on plays including Electra (1989); King Lear (1990); Hedda Gabler (1991); Richard II (1995); and Medea (2000-2001). Many of Deborah’s productions have been widely toured, for example her production of T.S Eliot’s poem The Waste Land with Fiona Shaw which visited Brussels, Dublin, Paris, Montreal, Toronto, Brighton, Adelaide, Bergen, Perth London, and New York (where it won two New York Drama Desk Awards).

Deborah has also worked extensively in the field of opera and classical music. Examples of her work as a Director include Britten’s The Turn of the Screw for the Royal Opera, which won the Evening Standard and South Bank Awards; Dido and Aeneas and La Traviata for the Vienna Festival. She has also directed Wozzeck and La Voix Humaine for Opera North and both Don Giovanni and Fidelio for Glyndebourne. Examples of her work for the English National Opera include Britten’s Death in Venice and Handel’s Messiah.

Deborah was created a CBE in the 2006 Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours for services to drama. She has also been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres by the French Government in 1992 and L’Officier des Arts et des Lettres in 2000.

Deborah’s inaugural lecture will be during Michaelmas Term 2019.