ABOUT JOHN RETALLACK

John has written over twenty plays and adaptations for theatre and for radio. Amongst other nominations and awards, he has won three coveted TMA/SWET awards, two Herald Angels and one Fringe First.

John's new play, Hannah and Hanna in Dreamland opened at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury in October 2018, before a short tour of the South-East. The play is now published by Oberon Books (https://www.oberonbooks.com/john-retallack.html). His adaptation of J.B. Priestley’s classic novel The Good Companions for Radio 4 was broadcast in March, 2018 and will be repeated in 2019. 

 

He recently directed Unicorns, Almost, Owen Sheers' play about the poet Keith Douglas, for the Hay Festival in May 2018 and received outstanding local and national reviews for his production.  The production will be revived for the 2019 Edinburgh Festival and will run for the entire month of the festival – details of venue and times to follow. (see www.unicornsalmost.com) The production is also booked for further events surrounding the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy Landings and the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War. 

His twelve original theatre plays include Wild Girl (2014) (Bristol Old Vic), Truant (2013) (National Theatre of Scotland), Arlo (2010) (Southwark Playhouse), Risk (2007) (Tron Theatre, Glasgow), Virgins (2006) (Edinburgh Festival and National Tour), Sweetpeter (2004) (Polka Theatre and National Tour), Ballroom (2004) (Riverside Studios & National Tour) and Hannah and Hanna (2001) (National and British Council tours). He also adapted and directed Apples by Richard Milward (2006), The Plague by Camus (2000), and Junk by Melvyn Burgess (1998).

“John Retallack’s canny two-hander couldn’t be more topical. This little scorcher gets right to the heart of the tensions that arise in depressed communities when refugees arrive. It’s funny and sad, and every time it comes within a whisker of sentimentality it veers off with head butting toughness."

Lyn Gardner on Hannah and Hanna, The Guardian

His adaptations for BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and The World Service include Camus’ The Outsider, Mankell’s A Bridge to the Stars and Selincourt’s The Cricket Match, as well as his own plays, Arlo and Hannah and Hanna.

He has been a regular guest of the Odyssey Artist-in-Residence Programme in Lille and Calais. He has worked extensively in Holland and France.

His plays have been translated into many languages and toured throughout Europe; they are published by Oberon and Methuen.

 

“At no point is Sweetpeter anything other than engaging. The script elucidates complex issues with subtlety and tact, by turns heart-warming, harrowing and periodically hilarious. Best of all is the way the characters linger, utterly believably. It is the kind of play that can change a person’s perspective indefinitely.” Time Out

DIRECTOR

John Retallack has been a theatre director for over thirty years.

His production of Pink Mist by Owen Sheers toured the UK in Spring 2017, after sustained runs at Bristol Old Vic and The Bush Theatre in London.

"John Retallack’s fluid, dream-like production physically matches the script’s verve – his tightly drilled company of six deploying synchronised moves and graceful slow-motion to bring home the way the shock-waves of war can travel deep beneath the skin." Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph

He was the founding Artistic Director of Actors Touring Company/ATC London (1977 - 85) and Artistic Director of Oldham Coliseum (1985 - 88).  He was Artistic Director of Oxford Stage Company at The Oxford Playhouse (1989 - 99) and founding Artistic Director of the new writing company, Company of Angels (2000 - 2010). From 2010 to 2013 he was Associate Director at Bristol Old Vic where he remains an Associate Artist.

He has been a guest director of productions in America, Japan, India, Portugal, Belgium, Austria, Holland and Ireland. All of his companies have toured internationally and John’s work has been seen all over the world.

EDUCATOR

He led the Writing for Performance course at Ruskin College, Oxford from 2013 to 2017 and currently teaches on the Oxford University Creative Writing Mst and CONTED programmes. At Ruskin he initiated Ruskin Theatre Platforms, and, in collaboration with Oxford Playhouse, staged over thirty readings of contemporary plays to popular acclaim.

John has led five new writing programmes for Performing Arts Labs and three courses for the Arvon Foundation. With Renata Allen, he is now the co-director of Oxford Playmaker which specializes in introducing children, teenagers and aspiring professionals to the craft and art of writing plays. (www.oxfordplaymaker.co.uk)

MAIN PUBLISHED WORKS

Junk adapted from Melvyn Burgess’ novel Methuen 1999

Hannah and Hanna English and Media 2002

Hannah and Hanna French’s acting edition 2004

Hannah et Hanna Editions Fontaine 2004

Sweetpeter New Plays for Young People Methuen 2006

Four Plays for Company of Angels by John Retallack  Oberon 2008

(Hannah and Hanna, Risk, Club Asylum, Virgins)

Risque Editions Bleu 2009

Apples Oberon 2012

 

Plays written and directed for Company of Angels 

2001

Hannah and Hanna

Company of Angels tour in UK and Edinburgh 2001 - 2003

Edinburgh Festival

Winner of Herald Angel Award

TMA Award/Best New Show for Young People nominee

2004 - 2005 British Council tours to India, Malaysia and the Philippines

2002  World Service radio broadcast 

Produced and translated into French, Swedish, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Hebrew and Japanese

Over 200 performances in Sweden and 100 in Belgium

 

“Hannah and Hanna is an important play which faces head on the most controversial issue of the moment, the plight of asylum seekers in Britain. But it is also a moving, gripping and very well-acted piece of theatre. Intended by its prize-winning writer and director, John Retallack, for teenage audiences, it is playing successfully to all ages at Edinburgh-a tribute to the quality of both writing and presentation.” Heather Neill, The Times Educational Supplement

2002 

Wild Girl

2002 Company of Angels/ Quicksilver tour

2004 Wederzijds tour of Holland & Belgium

2004 Runner-up, Hans Snoek Award, Amsterdam

2013 Bristol Old Vic tour in co-production with Theatre Royal, Bath, Dukes

Playhouse, Lancaster and Theatre Iolo, Cardiff

Translated and produced in French and Dutch

 

2002

Club Asylum

Company of Angels tour of Scotland

Tron Theatre Glasgow

Published by Oberon

Translated in French

"Club Asylum is one of the most important theatrical shows created in Scotland in the past year...its strength lies in Retallack’s thoughtful, well-muscled script." Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

2004

Sweetpeter  (with Usifu Jalloh)

Company of Angels National Tour

Polka Theatre London

Translated & performed in French

Published by Methuen

 

2005

Virgins

Company of Angels National Tour

Edinburgh Festival

Translated and performed in French, Swedish, German

Published by Oberon

Over 150 performances in Sweden

 

2006

Risk

Company of Angels Scottish and English tour

Tron Theatre Glasgow

Translated and performed in French and German

Published by Oberon and Les Solitaires Intempestifs

2008 Theater an der Parkaue Berlin

2012 Compagnie L’Interlude Tour of France

2013 Avignon Festival

2014 - 15 Further French touring including Paris

"Although it is performed by five young professional actor-dancers, the raw voices of those involved in the workshop process can be heard in every detail of Retallack's text...Risk is an energetic, thoughtful and likeable show, with one or two shuddering moments of truth."

The Scotsman

 

2009

Apples (Adapted from Richard Milward’s novel)

Company of Angels & Northern Stage Newcastle

National Tour

Edinburgh Festival

Winner of Herald Angel Award

 

2010

Arlo

Public Reading for Company of Angels Theatre Café

Southwark Playhouse

Afternoon Play on BBC Radio 4

 

2011

Truant

National Theatre of Scotland & Company of Angels

Glasgow tour

 

Plays written and directed for Bristol Old Vic

 

2012

Pictures at an Exhibition

Bristol Old Vic Young Company

 

2013

Wild Girl

Bristol Old Vic and regional tour

A co-production between Bristol Old Vic and Theatr Iolo

 

2013

The Last Days of Mankind

(with Toby Hulse, adapted from original text by Karl Kraus)

Bristol Old Vic/Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

 

Freelance Writing

 

2000

The Plague (adapted from Albert Camus' novel)

Dundee Rep

 

2003

The Foundling

Brighton Theatre Company tour of South-East

 

2003

Common Ground

Cardboard Citizens tour for homeless people in London

 

2004

Ballroom

National Tour

Riverside Studios London

Translated into French

"A play with dancing by John Retallack, Ballroom takes you in its firm-but-gentle embrace and spins you off into the strange sunset world of the seaside tea dance...It's funny. It's sad. It's an elating symbol of how differences of age and temperament can be fleetingly dissolved in dance." Jeremy Kingston The Times

 

2007

A Bridge to the Stars (adapted from Henning Mankell’s novel)

Cottesloe Theatre

National Theatre Connections Festival

Afternoon Play BBC Radio 4

 

2013

The Outsider (adapted from Albert Camus’ novel)

BBC Radio 3

90 minute broadcast on centenary of Camus’ birth 3.11.13

 

2013

Arlo

Afternoon Play on BBC Radio 4

2016/17

Hannah and Hanna in Dreamland

UK Arts International/HOUSE

Turner Gallery, Margate 2016

Edinburgh Fringe 2017

2017

Adapted JB Priestley's The Good Companions for BBC Radio 4. To be broadcast 2018.

2018

Adaptation of J.B. Priestley's The Good Companions broadcast 3 February 2018

Directed Owen Sheers' Unicorns, Almost for the Hay Festival

Hannah and Hanna in Dreamland opens at Marlow Theatre in Canterbury

Oberon Books publish Hannah and Hanna in Dreamland

Audience at Ruskin Theatre Platform 2016

Photography by Stuart Allsopp and Geraint Lewis. Website by Alexandra Coke.

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon