Jonathan Chadwick is a UK theatre director, writer and teacher. He is Director of Az Theatre. Educated at Midhurst Grammar School and the University of Cambridge, he started professional theatre work as an Assistant Director of the Royal Court Theatre London, after running an acting course at the Institut de Formation Cinématographique in Paris working alongside American-French film-maker, teacher and writer, Noel Burch.
In the early 1970s he pursued his work in cinema as a member of the Berwick Street Film Collective on its production about the uprising in Northern Ireland. This followed the success of the film that he co-directed, ‘Rehearsals for the Performance’, which won an award of Outstanding Merit at the Toronto Film Festival, the subject of which was the play, ‘The Performance’, he wrote about the Warsaw Pact’s invasion of Czechoslovakia after the ‘Prague Spring’ of 1968.
In subsequent years he worked as a theatre director at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, the Half Moon Theatre and The Roundhouse, London, where he directed the UK premiere of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Mother’, at Watford Palace Theatre, the Glasgow Citizens Theatre. In the mid-1970s he co-wrote, with John Hoyland, and directed two plays for Foco Novo, ‘The Nine Days and Saltley Gates and ‘Tighten Your Belt’. These plays were given national UK tours produced in collaboration with the National Union of Mineworkers. He also directed touring productions for 7:84 England and Avon Touring Company.
In the late 1970s he was on the Editorial Staff of Marxism Today working alongside the journal’s editor, Martin Jacques.
He worked with Artistic Director, Clare Venables, as the Associate Director of the Theatre Royal Stratford East and was the Artistic Director of the Vanguard Company at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield where he produced and directed new plays on contemporary issues including Karim Alrawi’s ‘In Self Defence’ about the Bradford 12, and Stephen Lowe’s ‘Strive’ about the Falklands War and the Greenham Common women’s peace camp. He was a founder member of Paddington Arts, an innovative community arts group with whom he collaborated on two television series with TVS, ‘Running Loose’. He was a director on 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in the mid-1980s, a Visiting Professor at Rice University, Houston Texas where he directed Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’, a director for the Toronto Brecht Festival in 1987 where he collaborated with John Willett on a production of Brecht’s ‘Drums in the Night’, a visiting director in Adelaide, Australia where he directed Euripides’ ‘The Bacchae’. He was Artistic Director of Theatre Foundry based in Darlaston in the West Midlands where he produced an array of local tours and community-based drama projects.
Throughout his career he worked as a director at the major UK drama academies: the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Rose Bruford College, the Welsh College of Music and Drama and Mountview Academy where he was director of the post-graduate Acting and Musical Theatre course. He delivered with Alexander Technique Teacher, Robert MacDonald, a course at the Actors’ Centre, London, based on the work of the founding genius of the Japanese Noh Theatre, Motokiyo Zeami. He taught on the Masters Theatre Design course at Nottingham Trent University with Professors Malcolm Griffiths and Judith Parks. For a considerable number of years from the late 1990s he gave a course in Directing Actors for Film at the London Film School.
In the early 1990s he participated in a workshop given by Genrietta Yanovskaya of the Moscow Theatre of Young Spectators on the work of Anton Chekhov. He as also trained in ‘Le jeu’ with Phillipe Gaulier.
In 1998 he directed Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ (‘Cum Va Place’) at the Anton Pann Theatre in Rimnicu Valcea, Romania. In the 1990s he was joint Artistic Director of Meeting Ground Theatre Company based in Nottingham working with Stephen Lowe and Tanya Myers on various development projects including one about the Luddite Movement. He produced and directed ‘Transplant’ by Jeremy Seabrook and Michael O’Neill with music by Douglas Finch in North London. At the same time he worked as a freelance director, working, for example, with Grand Union, an international orchestra led by composer/musical director, Tony Haynes.
In 2003 he launched an international project called ‘War Stories’. This project was developed in collaboration the International Theatre Festival in Sibiu, Romania and brought together companies from Serbia, Algeria, Palestine and the UK. After founding Az Theatre, this work was continued at the Black Sea Theatre Festival in Trabzon, Turkey, and in a development workshop in Belgrade, Serbia. This was followed by his productions in London of plays by Stephen Lowe (a revival of ‘Strive’), by Motokiyo Zeami (‘Atsumori’) and by Iraqi playwright, Jawad Al Asadi, (‘Women in War’).
In 2005 he was invited to direct two theatre projects produced in collaboration with the United Nations Office of Missing Persons and Forensics in Kosovo, working with the families of the missing in the Albanian and Serbian communities. In 2006 Az Theatre presented a series of creative workshops, exploring recovery from war and organised violence, based on the story of Euripides’ Alcestis, in Algeria, Kosovo, Italy and the UK but because of armed hostilities were unable to work in Gaza, Palestine.
In 2006 he directed Konstantin Iliev’s modern classic, ‘Nirvana’ at London’s Riverside Studios and at the Varna Theatre Festival in Bulgaria. As a consequence of this work he was commissioned to write a play ‘Orpheus Comes Back from Hell’ for the Rhodope Drama Theatre in Smolyan, Bulgaria. Az Theatre’s production of Iraqi Kurdish writer, Hoshiar’s, ‘Life on the Borderline’, written while Hoshiar was seeking asylum in the UK, toured venues in London.
In 2009 he initiated Gaza Drama Long Term, a partnership with Theatre for Everybody in Gaza, to generate work there and in the UK offering publics creative connection between Palestine, the UK and elsewhere. He shot and directed a film in Gaza, ‘The Gaza Breathing Space Film’, edited and co-produced by Maysoon Pachachi, about the work of this project. In 2017 Az Theatre co-produced with Theatre for Everybody the world premiere Arabic stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’, staged at the Al Mishal Cultural Centre in Gaza, accompanied by a multi-arts intersectional mini-festival at P21 Gallery in London, ‘Here, There and Everywhere’.
Also in 2009 he began a course of study that culminated in 2011 with him gaining a Masters of Science in Ecological Economics from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds.
His articles have appeared in the journal, ‘Psychotherapy and Politics International’ and elsewhere.
In 2013 he worked at the Yunnan University of the Arts in Kunming, China, and the University of Chengdu in Sichuan, China. After which he continued the development of his writing: ‘Check Out’ and ‘Magnanimous Despair’ presented as readings for the Association of Jungian Analysts, ‘The Story of Go’ presented as a reading in collaboration with the Radical Anthropology Group at University College London, ‘The Field’ given an online reading in 2020, alongside another of his plays, ‘Somebody Else’, in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
In 2015 he was engaged as a creative consultant on a bilateral collaboration between companies in Armenia and Turkey, ‘The Bridge’, directing ‘forum theatre’ workshops in Yerevan and in Istanbul. He directed a workshop for Ashtar Theatre in Ramallah, Palestine with Caryl Churchill on her play, ‘Love and Information’.
Since 2018 he has been a participant in ‘Home for Humanity’, an alliance of co-creators from all over the Earth, initiated through Rama Mani’s work for Theatre of Transformation and Alexander Schieffer’s regenerative economics.
Alongside his writing work, he is working with Az Theatre on production projects: a play by Jeremy Seabrook, ‘A Place of Safety’, a production of ‘Somebody Else’ with actors, Ruth Lass and Laura Lake Adebisi and a research project on the Mutual Aid movement during the coronavirus pandemic.
He lives in North London with film-maker, Maysoon Pachachi whose most recent fiction feature film,’Our River Our Sky’ is currently being released worldwide. His son, Tom, is an actor and educator living in Devon with his two children, Rufina and Peter.
He practices yoga, having studied for 40 years with Christine Levy, and has trained in Movement Shiatsu and Inner Qigong with Bill Palmer. He sings and accompanies himself on guitar with a repertoire focusing on early 1970s North American songs.