Erica joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in January 2013 as Deputy Artistic Director. She is currently Acting Artistic Director.

Erica Whyman
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Erica joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in January 2013. She works closely with Artistic Director Gregory Doran on all aspects of artistic strategy, taking a particular lead on the development of new work, the contemporary relevance of the repertoire and the national ambitions of the company. Erica led the team which reopened The Other Place in March 2016, a creative hub dedicated to daring theatrical exploration. Erica takes a lead on the RSC’s approach to equity, justice and inclusion and is passionate about participation in theatre-making.

As part of the season celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death she directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a production involving 18 professional actors, 14 amateur theatre groups (84 amateur actors) and 580 school children from across the country, which toured the UK from March to June 2016. Her 2018 production of Romeo and Juliet in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Barbican and on a national tour incorporated 60 young people from RSC partner schools into its prologue.

In September 2021 Erica directed Faith, a major co-production between the RSC and the Coventry City of Culture Trust. The experience was made on the streets of Coventry in collaboration with the many faith communities of the city, taking place over 24 hours in the city and online to explore how people of faith, and of non-religious world views, understand and celebrate the chapters and mysteries of our lives. 

In 2020 Erica directed The Winter’s Tale which was due to be staged in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and on UK tour from March 2020 but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The production was finally reimagined for the screen and was broadcast on BBC Four in April 2021 and then on iPlayer where it has been seen by 80,000 people.

Erica was Chief Executive of Northern Stage in Newcastle Upon Tyne from 2005 to 2012. She oversaw the opening of a completely redesigned new building, introduced a notably collaborative organisational culture and attracted local and national acclaim for the company's repertoire of work. In 2012 she won the TMA Award for Theatre Manager of the Year.

Under her stewardship Northern Stage became known for ambitious international partnerships (Northern Stage co-produced Lipsynch by Robert Lepage, which opened in Newcastle in 2007), the development of experimental new work especially by young theatre makers and for bold interpretations of modern classics (for example Close the Coalhouse Door, directed by Samuel West in a new version by Lee Hall).

She was Artistic Director of Southwark Playhouse (1998-2000) and Artistic Director of the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill (2000-2004). At the Gate she ensured that the theatre paid its actors for the first time in 25 years, and she inaugurated the UK's first award for translation. Erica is a theatre director with many years' experience all over the UK.

For the RSC: The Ant and the CicadaRevolt. She Said. Revolt Again. (The Other Place); The Christmas Truce (Royal Shakespeare Theatre); Hecuba (Swan Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation (Royal Shakespeare Theatre and UK Tour ‘Blissfully funny’, ‘Dusted with magic’ Guardian); The Seven Acts of Mercy (Swan Theatre, ‘An urgent drama of social iniquities’ Financial Times); The Earthworks (The Other Place); Romeo and Juliet (Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Barbican and UK Tour ‘Fresh, Fleet, Blade-Sharp’ Telegraph, ‘Wonderfully fresh...a national hit’ Evening Standard), Miss Littlewood (Swan Theatre ‘Pulsatingly entertaining. Magnificent’ The Times), A Museum in Baghdad (Swan Theatre and The Kiln dreamlike flourishes’ The Times).

For Northern Stage: Son of Man; Ruby Moon; Our Friends in the North; A Christmas Carol; A Doll's House; Look Back in Anger; Hansel and Gretel, Oh What a Lovely War (nominated for two TMA awards), The Wind in the Willows, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (in co-production with Sheffield Theatres for which she was nominated for best director at the 2011 TMA awards), The Glass Slipper and the UK premiere of Oh, The Humanity (which ran in Edinburgh and then Soho Theatre in August/September 2012).

Other work includes The Birthday Party (Sheffield Crucible); The Shadow of a Boy (National Theatre); The Flu Season, Marieluise, Witness and Les Justes (Gate Theatre); The Winter's Tale and The Glass Slipper (Southwark Playhouse):

Erica has a first-class honours degree in French and Philosophy from Oxford. She trained in the theatre with Philippe Gaulier in Paris and then at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She was the recipient of the John S Cohen Bursary for directors at the National Theatre Studio and ETT, and later Associate Producer at what was then the Tricycle Theatre, now KILN, and Associate Director at ETT. She is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham and has the first Honorary Doctorate ever awarded by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

She was one of the first fellows of the Clore Leadership Programme and speaks regularly for Clore and other programmes, especially on artists in leadership roles. In the 2012 New Year’s Honours List, she was awarded an OBE for services to Theatre in the UK. In November 2016, she won the Peter Brook Empty Space Special Achievement Award. She is the Chair of Theatre 503 and Deputy Chair of Coventry City of Culture Trust.

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