As Sir Trevor celebrates his 80th birthday, Artistic Director Gregory Doran pays tribute to his incredible directing career.

A very Happy Birthday to the legendary Sir Trevor Nunn. 

Surely one of the most influential theatre directors of all time, across the genres, from Shakespeare to opera, occasionally even film, and of course musicals. His first success at Stratford was a production of The Revenger’s Tragedy in 1966. 

Trevor took over the artistic directorship of the RSC from Peter Hall when he was only 28 years old. In his time at the RSC he directed 20 plays by Shakespeare, some of them more than once. He directed King Lear three times, with Eric Porter in 1968, Donald Sinden in 1977, and of course with Ian McKellen in 2007.

Trevor Nunn in a 1972 rehearsal for Coriolanus.
Trevor in a rehearsal for Coriolanus in 1972.
Photo by Reg Wilson © RSC Browse and license our images

His Macbeth at The Other Place with McKellen and Judi Dench must stand as one of the greatest ever productions of the play. But so many of his productions have been described as definitive accounts of the play: his Winter’s Tale with Judi Dench doubling as Hermione and Perdita; his All’s Well That Ends Well with Peggy Ashcroft and Harriet Walter; his Othello with Willard White and McKellen again; and of course his delirious musical version of Comedy of Errors with music by Guy Woolfenden. 

But Trevor’s track record with non-Shakespeare work for the RSC is equally impressive, the famous Nicholas Nickleby, adapted by David Edgar; and of course Les Miserables, also directed with his great collaborator and friend John Caird, from which the company still benefits financially, 35 years later.

Trevor has created the opening productions in many of the RSC’s theatre homes. He opened the Barbican in 1982 with the Henry IV plays: the official opening of the Swan Theatre with The Fair Maid of the West in 1986; having directed the closing production in the much loved tin-shack TOP with Othello in 1989, Trevor opened the new TOP in 1991 with a double bill of Measure for Measure and The Blue Angel. His last production at Stratford was Volpone in 2015 with Henry Goodman. 

Trevor ran the company until 1986 (latterly with Terry Hands as his co-artistic director).  He then went on to run the National Theatre.

His other sensational successes include the musical of Cats, and Porgy and Bess for Glyndebourne.

Trevor finally completed the entire canon of Shakespeare plays with A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the New Wolsey Theatre in his hometown of Ipswich in 2016.

Happy Birthday Trevor!