Sam(uel) (Alexander) Mendes



  • (1965 - ) British director, who emerged as one of thecountry's most exciting theatrical talents while still in his mid twenties.After graduating from Cambridge in 1987, Mendes worked as a general assistantat the Chichester Festival, where he was given a chance to direct Chekhov forone night only. The response was so favourable that Mendes was made artisticdirector of the Festival's new studio theater, the Minerva, at the age of 23.Over the next two years he established a national profile with a seriesof Stratford and West End productions including Troilus and Cressidafor the RSC (1990), Kean at the Old Vic (1990), and TheRise and Fall of Little Voice at the National (1992) - thelast being a vehicle for the talents of his then-partner, the actressJane Horrocks. From 1992 until 2002 Mendes was director of the DonmarWarehouse Theatre, a venue that was soon being described as "thesexiest space in London." With riveting revivals of Friel'sTranslations (1993), Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross (1994),and the Sondheim musical Company (1995), as well as new plays includingDavid Hare's The blue Room (1998), the Donmar was undoubtedlythe capital's most fashionable and talked-about theater of the 1990s.Mendes continued to direct plays for other companies, including asuccessful revival of Oliver! at the Palladium (1994) thatmade him a wealthy man. In 1999 Mendes made his first ventureinto the cinema with the Oscar-winning American Beauty; subsequent films include Revolutionary Road (2008), starring histhen wife Kate Winslet. Another career peak came in 2002, when Mendes became the first person to win three Laurence Olivier Awards in the same year - as Best Director (Twelfth Night), for Best Revival (Uncle Vanya), and in special recognition of his ten years at the Donmar. More recent work for the stage includes a Broadway revival of Gypsy (2003) and David Hare's The Vertical Hour (2007).Since 2009 Mendes has mounted a series of productions under the auspicesof the bridge Project, a transatlantic collaboration between Mendes,the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Kevin Spacey's Old Vic Company. Theseinclude a double-bill of The Tempest and As You Like It, which opened in Brooklyn in 2010.