John Bell is Artistic Director of Bell Shakespeare and one of Australia’s most acclaimed theatre personalities. In a career of acting and directing, John has been instrumental in shaping the Australian theatre industry as we know it. After graduating from Sydney University in 1962 John worked for the Old Tote Theatre Company, all of Australia’s state theatre companies and was an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the United Kingdom. As co-founder of Sydney’s Nimrod Theatre Company, John presented many productions of landmark Australian plays including David Williamson’s Travelling North, The Club and The Removalists. He also initiated an Australian Shakespeare style with Nimrod productions such as Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth.
In 1990 John founded The Bell Shakespeare Company where his productions have included Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Romeo And Juliet, The Taming Of The Shrew, Richard 3, Pericles, Henry 4, Henry 5, Julius Caesar, Antony And Cleopatra, The Comedy Of Errors, Wars Of The Roses, Measure For Measure, Macbeth and As You Like It, as well as Goldoni’s The Servant Of Two Masters, Gogol’s The Government Inspector and Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist. His Shakespeare roles include Hamlet, Shylock, Henry V, Richard III, Macbeth, Malvolio, Berowne, Petruchio, Leontes, Coriolanus, Prospero, King Lear and Titus Andronicus. He played the title role in co-productions with Queensland Theatre Company including: Richard 3, Heiner Müller’s Anatomy Titus Fall Of Rome: A Shakespeare Commentary andperformed the role of Mephistopheles in the most recent co-production, Faustus. John recently directed a production of The Rake’s Progress for the Victorian Opera and has also directed a production of Madame Butterfly for an Oz Opera national tour and performed the role of the Professor in Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Uncle Vanya, presented in association with Bell Shakespeare.
John Bell is an Officer of the Order of Australia and the Order of the British Empire. He has an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the Universities of Sydney, New South Wales and Newcastle. In 1997 he was named by the National Trust of Australia as one of Australia’s Living Treasures. In 2003 the Australia Business Arts Foundation awarded John the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Cultural Leadership Award. His many awards as an actor and director include a Helpmann Award for Best Actor (Richard 3, 2002), a Producers and Directors Guild Award for Lifetime Achievement and the JC Williamson Award (2009) for extraordinary contribution to Australia’s live entertainment industry and the 2010 Sydney Theatre Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of his extraordinary career as an actor, director and producer.