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Prof Rob Swain

  • Overview



    I am the Porgramme Director of the MFA Theatre Directing, offering industry-recognised training for theatre directors.

     I am also a freelance theatre director. I was the Artistic Director of Harrogate Theatre, directing over twenty productions, many of which were ACE-funded national tours and co-productions, from Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and Shakespeare’s Macbeth to a newly commissioned adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s book, Truckers.

    Before Harrogate Theatre I was Associate Director of the New Vic Theatre in Staffordshire, commissioning and directing many new plays, twice winning the Mentorn Award for the best production of a new play. I was Associate Director of the London Bubble, innovating ways of working with actor-musicians. As a freelance director I have directed at numerous regional theatres including the Octagon Bolton, Oldham Coliseum the Belgrade Coventry, and in Germany. I recently received ACE funding for the development of an original opera, Vice, based on Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy; and directed a workshop production of a new play about Victorian aestheticist Vernon Lee, in collaboration with Dr Carolyn Burdett.

    From 2001 to 2017 I was on the Executive Board of Drama UK, overseeing the professional accreditation of acting and technical training programmes at the UK’s drama schools.

    I have recently devised and led director-training programmes for the RSC and Shakespeare’s Globe.

    My book Directing: A Handbook for Emerging Theatre Directors is published by Methuen.


    • BSc Social Sciences, London South Bank University

    Professional activities

    I was the Artistic Director of Harrogate Theatre, and before that the Associate Director of the New Victoria Theatre, Staffordshire, and of the London Bubble, directing over 50 productions and twice winning the Central TV Award for best production of a new play. I have commissioned and directed many new plays, particularly plays with innovative uses of music, documentaries and plays based on real lives or events.

    I recently directed a play about the Victorian art critic and aestheticist, Vernon Lee; a revival of Peter Cheeseman’s celebrated documentary, The Knotty at the New Vic, Staffordshire; and an ACE-funded production of a new musical, Vice, based on Middleton's The Revenger's Tragedy.

    Other major productions include ACE funded national tours of Uncle Vanya by Chekhov, A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller; The Flight of the Swan at the Linbury Studio, ROH Covent Garden; and a new musical, Tears of A Clown, at Harrogate Theatre, which I co-wrote.


  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    Teaching modules

    • Course Induction (MFA Theatre Directing): Unit A (ENHU001Z7)
    • The Director and Directing: Dissertation (ENHU006D7)
    • The Director and the Actor: Unit B (ENHU095S7)
    • The Director and the Author: Unit D (ENHU096S7)
    • The Director and the Designer: Unit E (ENHU097S7)
    • The Director and the Industry: Unit F (ENHU098S7)
  • Publications



    Conference Item



    • Swain, Robert Vice.