Michael Bogdanov



  • (1938 - ) British theater director, noted especially for his exuberant productions of Shakespeare. Bogdanov was born in South Wales, to Russian and Welsh parents, and educated in Ireland, Germany, and France. After several years working in television, he became (1971) an assistant director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where his productions included an award-winning The Taming of the Shrew (1978). In 1980 he joined the National Theatre, where he was immediately embroiled in controversy as the director of Howard Brenton's The Romans in Britain. Owing to a scene in which two actors simulated anal rape, the morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse brought a private prosecution against Bogdanov for "procuring an act of gross indecency". The charges, which could have resulted in Bogdanov being jailed for up to two years, were eventually dropped. Bogdanov's other productions of the 1980s included Hamlet at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin (1983), and the premiere of Stockhausen's extraordinary music drama Montag Aus Licht in Milan (1988).

    In 1986 Bogdanov and the actor Michael Pennington (1943 - ) became joint founders of the English Shakespeare Company, a touring ensemble created to bring lively and accessible productions of Shakespeare to the widest possible audiences. The company's trademark style, which involves the use of modern dress and deliberate anachronisms to bring home the modern 'relevance' of the plays, was immediately established in the complete cycle of Shakespeare's histories that it presented in 1986 - 87. Subsequent productions have included Twelfth Night (1991), which visited Japan and Korea, Macbeth (1992), which toured some of the remotest parts of Africa, and Richard III (1998), directed by Bogdanov's son Malachi. Since the mid 1990s the company has become increasingly involved in educational work. Bogdanov's work for other companies has included a revival of Hair (1993) at the Old Vic and a critically mauled version of Goethe's Faust (1996) for the RSC. Since 2003 he has directed a series of productions for the Wales Theatre Company, notably Mal Pope's AmazingGrace (2005), a show that has been described as "the first greatWelsh musical".