As Sam Mendes returns to the West End with The Ferryman at the Royal Court and its upcoming transfer to the Gielgud we look back on his varied career as a director.
A Cambridge graduate, at age 24 Mendes was directing Judi Dench in The Cherry Orchard, before moving on to direct productions at the RSC. He later moved to Chichester Festival Theatre where he worked as assistant director on various productions. Aged just 25 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, spending two years overseeing a re-design which has led to the Donmar becoming one of the West End’s most respected theatre spaces. His season at the Donmar opened with Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins and included productions of Cabaret and Oliver! The revivals were great successes, going on to Broadway and winning multiple awards.
He inevitably moved into film and his debut, American Beauty, was not only received with financial acclaim but with critical acclaim too, winning Mendes nearly all the major awards for directing, including the Oscar. In recent years, his film attentions have been focused on James Bond, which he has combined with a return to theatre. In 2013 he directed Simon Russell Beale in their eighth collaboration together and returned to musicals in the form of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Mendes has used his star power to create the Bridge Project, a collaboration between American and British actors staged in both countries.
The Ferryman became the Royal Court's fastest-selling show of all time prompting the announcement of its transfer to the Gielgud before the opening of its Royal Court run.
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