Director of Performance (Drama)
Jonathan Munby is one of the leading theatre directors of his generation.
He is acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, both in the UK and abroad. He has been nominated for and won several major awards, including the UK Theatre Awards, The Helen Hayes Award in the US for ‘Most Outstanding Director,’ and most recently the Olivier Award for Best Revival. With extensive work in the US, China, Japan and South Africa, he also has a strong international status.
Jonathan has worked with many leading companies in the UK, both in the commercial and subsidised sectors, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company (Wendy & Peter Pan), Donmar Warehouse (Life Is a Dream, with Dominic West), Young Vic, Shakespeare’s Globe (Merchant of Venice, starring Jonathan Pryce), and extensively for many of the major regional theatres, including Leeds Playhouse, Sheffield Crucible and Bristol Old Vic. In the past few years, he has had great success with commercial work in the West End (Frozen, starring Suranne Jones, Jason Watkins and Nina Sosanya) and has begun developing his first feature film.
Jonathan’s work has spanned many different genres from classics to new writing, across a range of disciplines and with many of the country’s leading playwrights and practitioners, including Caryl Churchill, Bryony Lavery, Dennis Kelly and Ella Hickson. Alongside his directing career, he has worked at RADA, LAMDA, East 15 and Guildhall. Teaching, mentorship and the chance to work with young and emerging talent, has always been an important part of Jonathan’s life and work.
In his career he has focused on exploring how detailed knowledge of the original context of plays, from Elizabethan to our own times, may provide an opportunity for directors and actors to challenge contemporary audiences. Most notably this historicist process resulted in the critically acclaimed production of King Lear starring Sir Ian McKellen (the fastest selling play in West End history after Harry Potter), for which Jonathan reworked the script, based on his close study of both the Quarto and First Folio editions. The publication of his version of the play by Oberon Books shows a recognition of his ingenuity and insight.
For his revival of the iconic South African jazz musical, King Kong: Legend of a Boxer (1959), which won Best Production, and Best Director at the South African Theatre Awards, Jonathan coordinated a large-scale project to reimagine the show while still respecting its legendary status. This involved extensive interviews, new numbers, and a newly written book, all resulting from an immersion in the issues confronting present-day South Africa as well as an understanding of the apartheid era in which the piece was first conceived.
His work has spanned many different genres, across a range of disciplines, in a number of languages and with many of the UK’s leading writers and practitioners.