Sir Trevor (Robert) Nunn

Definition

Theater

  • (1940 - ) British director noted for his longassociation with the Royal Shakespeare Company. After gainingexperience with the Marlowe Society at Cambridge, Nunn joined theBelgrade Theatre, Coventry, as a trainee director in 1962.

    Three years later Nunn left the Belgrade to become a directorat the RSC. His first production, codirected with John Barton, wasHenry V at the Aldwych Theatre, London. In 1966 Nunn directedthe first revival for 300 years of Tourneur's The Revenger's Tragedy;he successfully revived Vanbrugh's The Relapse the followingyear. In 1968 he was named artistic director of the RSC on the departureof Peter Hall; later that year he directed Much Ado AboutNothing, King Lear, and The Taming of the Shrew.

    In 1972 Nunn was involved in an acrimonious and well-publicizeddispute with John Arden and his wife Margaretta D'Arcy, whodisowned Nunn's production of the play The Island of the Mighty.During his time as director Nunn opened two small venues for the company,the Other Place in 1974 in Stratford and the Warehouse in 1977 inLondon. In 1976 Nunn directed a sinister Macbeth at the OtherPlace and (with Guy Woolfenden) turned The comedy of Errorsinto an exuberant musical. Two years later, he was named chief executiveof the RSC and became joint artistic director with Terry Hands. In 1980 the RSC had a landmark hit at the Aldwych when Nunn, with JohnCaird, staged David Edgar's adaptation of Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby;the show later enjoyed success on Broadway.

    Since the 1980s Nunn has been much in demand as a directorof large-scale musicals. With the RSC he created the enormously successfulLes Misérables (1985) and the notorious horror musicalCarrie (1986), a critical and commercial disaster. Workingas a freelance he directed the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicalsCats (1981), Starlight Express (1984), and Aspectsof Love (1989). In the mid 1980s his prolonged absences from theRSC and his lucrative outside interests provoked some criticism. Anapocryphal story from this time has a group of actors writing to JimmySavile requesting him to "fix it" for them to meet theirdirector. Nunn resigned his posts at the RSC in 1986, since when he has heldthe title of director emeritus. From 1997 to 2003 he was artistic directorof the Royal National Theatre, where his productions included a much praisedMerchant of Venice (1998) and a revival of My Fair Lady (2000)that ran for two years in the West End. Despite these successes, his tenureat the National was often troubled and he decided not to seek a second term(he had earlier described the job as being like "juggling plates, whileriding a unicycle on a tightrope, over Niagara Falls"). More recentlyhe has directed Hamlet (2004) at the Old Vic, the Victoria Wood musicalAcorn Antiques (2006), and Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll(2006) at the Royal Court. In 2008 he returned to the RSC to direct Ian McKellen in a highly praised King Lear.

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