the directors 4.Terry Hands a weekly guide to British theatre's big players

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The Independent Culture
Famous for: Being at the RSC. First worked there in 1966, became a joint artistic director in 1978. He graduated to artistic director and chief executive in 1986. Handed over to Adrian Noble in 1991, but remains Director Emeritus.

Greatest hits: Founding the Liverpool Everyman in 1964. Shakespeare's history plays, especially the Henrys IV, V and VI. An outstanding production of The Seagull with Simon Russell Beale and Susan Fleetwood, and Tamburlaine with Antony Sher.

Directorial hallmarks: Thinks big. Masterly control of stage spectacle often achieved through simple means. Not averse to big projects - eg the Henry VI trilogy. Has a bold vision, usually realised through a strong central performer - almost always male.

Personal skills: A great leader, the perfect patriarch. A Svengali-like figure of immense charm who manages to make teams of people want to impress him. Women have described him as coolly manipulative.

New writing: Directs new plays by writers called Peter (Nichols, Barnes, Flannery) but not, on the whole, a director you'd choose to direct your first play. Tends to stick to the classics. He is not regarded as a Shakespeare guru, much to his chagrin.

Musical moments: Like all the greats, has had a few nights at the opera, directing Otello in Paris, Parsifal at Covent Garden and Simon Boccanegra in Bremen.

Biggest mistake: The musical of Carrie, which inexplicably went to Broadway, almost decapitated its leading lady, lost more money than you could possibly imagine, and inspired the book Not Since Carrie, a compendium of theatrical disasters.

Idiosyncrasies: Theatrically superstitious. Always wears a red kimono with a dragon on the back during the technical rehearsal. Wears a black leather jacket at all other times. Never watches his press nights.

Now showing: Hadrian VII at Chichester; The Importance of Being Earnest at the

Old Vic.

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