Sir Richard Eyre

Definition

Theater

  • (1943 - ) British theater and film director; artistic director of the National Theatre (subsequently the Royal National Theatre) from 1987 to 1997. Eyre was educated at Cambridge University and served his theatrical apprenticeship in Leicester and Edinburgh. In 1973 he became artistic director at the Nottingham Playhouse, where he made his name with productions of Brenton's The Churchill Play (1974) and Griffiths's Comedians (1975); the latter transferred successfully to the West End and became - with Eyre again directing - a powerful TV drama (1979). During the early 1980s he directed frequently for the Royal Court Theatre, where his productions included Hamlet (1980) with Jonathan Pryce and David Mamet's Edmond (1985).

    Eyre's first production for the National Theatre was his now legendary revival of the musical Guys and Dolls (1982); this became a huge West End hit and has been credited with saving the financially beleaguered theater in the 1980s. As director of the National he staged a series of major works by David Hare, including the state-of-the-nation trilogy Racing Demon (1990), Murmuring Judges (1991), and The Absence of War (1993). Other highlights included Tennessee Williams's Sweet Bird of Youth (1994), Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman (1996) with Paul Scofield, and an award-winning King Lear (1997) with Ian Holm. In 1997 he ended his reign at the National - an experience he has compared to "11 years of toothache" - with a masterly production of Stoppard's The Invention of Love. Subsequent work has included a Broadway revival of Miller's The Crucible (2002), a much praised Hedda Gabler (2005) at the Almeida Theatre, the blockbuster musical Mary Poppins (2005),and a return to the National with Nicholas Wright's The Reporter (2007).In recent years Eyre has worked increasingly in the cinema, directing such films as Iris (2001) and Stage Beauty (2004), about the Restoration actor Ned Kynaston. His publications include National Service (2004), a volume of diaries written during his years at the National.

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