Dublin Theatre Festival


Cheek By Jowl (UK)


Cheek by Jowl was established in 1981 by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod.
Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod met at Cambridge University in the mid 1970s. Subsequently they worked together on various productions and in 1981 they formed Cheek by Jowl. The company's manifesto was to re-examine classical texts, avoiding directorial and design concepts, and to focus on the actor's art. Its first production to tour was Wycherley's The Country Wife presented at the Edinburgh Festival and supported by a small Arts Council grant.
Before long the company received its first official invitations to perform abroad, taking their productions of Vanity Fair and Pericles to the festivals of Almagro, Valladolid and Jerusalem in 1984. These productions were also invited to perform in London at the Donmar Warehouse. This was to be the start of a long and fruitful collaboration with that theatre.
For that first London season Cheek by Jowl won the Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer in 1986. Over half of the company’s plays receiving Olivier awards. The company grew rapidly throughout the 1980s — creating 18 productions in ten years, touring across five continents and giving over 1,500 performances. The tours were supported by the Arts Council and the British Council.
The core of the repertoire has always been Shakespeare, by the time of Troilus and Cressida in 2008 Cheek By Jowl will have presented no fewer than 13 of Shakespeare’s plays. Another principle of the company was to present major European classics in translation. To date Cheek by Jowl has given the British premières of 10 European classics including The Cid by Corneille and Andromache by Racine, over three hundred years since they were first presented in Paris.
By 1990, The Independent could say that, "If there is one company to have influenced British theatre in the 1980s, it is Cheek by Jowl". City Limits described Donnellan and Ormerod as, "the most exciting partnership in British Theatre", and the playwright David Edgar spoke of British theatre in a, "post Cheek by Jowl era".

In 1986 Donnellan and Ormerod first visited Russia, when Lev Dodin invited them to Leningrad to see his company perform at the Maly Drama Theatre. Since then a close relationship developed, with the two companies regularly performing together at the same international festivals. In 1997, Donnellan and Ormerod directed and designed The Winters Tale for the Maly, the first Shakespeare production performed by that company. Meanwhile the Russian Theatre Confederation had invited Cheek by Jowl to Moscow. Measure for Measure was performed at the Moscow Arts Theatre to great acclaim and the company was invited back the same year to perform As You Like It. This was followed closely by Russian tours of The Duchess of Malfi and Much Ado About Nothing.
This intense relationship between Cheek by Jowl and Russia culminated in 1999, when the Russian Theatre invited Donnellan and Ormerod to form their own company of Russian actors in Moscow.
This sister company performs in Russia and internationally and its current repertoire includes Boris Godunov by Pushkin, Twelfth Night and Three Sisters by Anton Chekov.


In 2002 the Cheek by Jowl team presented the premiere of Homebody/Kabul in the United States for the New York Theatre Workshop and at the Young Vic in London and in Barcelona for Cheek by Jowl. This was Tony Kushner’s first major play since Angels in America which Donnellan and Ormerod had earlier produced at the National Theatre.
With 2004's production of Othello, Cheek by Jowl embarked upon its most ambitious tour yet encompassing five continents, fourteen countries and 169 performances.
In 2005, Cheek by Jowl entered into a partnership with the Barbican theatre in London. As one of the Barbican's Associate Companies, with their co-production support and with funding through the Arts Council's Grants for the Arts programme each year from 2006 the company presents a season in the central London venue. Each season consists of a play in English, co-produced by the Barbican, and a play in Russian. This will be accompanied by masterclasses and workshops.In 2003 the Bolshoi invited the Cheek By Jowl team to stage a new version of the ballet of Romeo and Juliet by Prokofief. All five of Ormerod and Donnellan’s Russian productions are still being performed in Russia.

From 2008 Cheek by Jowl will continue to present work in Russian, English and French with support from the Barbican and Arts Council England.



The Duchess of Malfi

Three Sisters

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