English Touring Theatre was founded in 1993 to create outstanding theatre and tour it to the widest possible audience.
Under founding Director Stephen Unwin, the company quickly became known for productions of classic work, with award-winning productions including Hamlet, As You Like It, Henry IV Parts One and Two, King Lear, and acclaimed productions of Ibsen’s The Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, Ghosts and John Gabriel Borkman. Other successes of this era included a 100th Anniversary production of The Importance of Being Earnest, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Alan Bennett’s The Old Country.
In 2008 Rachel Tackley took over the directorship of the company, making English Touring Theatre the first large scale subsidised touring company to be producer-led. Under Rachel’s leadership the scope of English Touring Theatre's work widened to include adaptations of classic novels (Great Expectations, Grapes of Wrath), musicals (Been So Long – produced with the Young Vic) and collaborations with emerging artists, while continuing to include classics (Tartuffe and The Hypochondriac adapted by Roger Mcgough) and new writing. In 2016 Director Richard Twyman took on leadership of the company programming tours of The Weir by Conor McPherson and Rules for Living by Sam Holdcroft in his first season.
English Touring Theatre has a proud history of presenting new work, going back to its early years and the world premiere of Johnathon Harvey’s Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club in 1995. Since then, world-first productions include Hushabye Mountain and Canary, both by Jonathon Harvey, Peter Gill’s The York Realist, Richard Bean’s Honeymoon Suite, Chris Hannan’s The Three Musketeers and The Princess of Spain, Lovesong by ChÃ© Walker and Omar Lyefook, Little Baby Jesus by Arinze Kene, Hundreds and Thousands by Lou Ramsden and more.
The company travels to a wide range of venues across England and sometimes further afield. We present our work in some of the most prestigious regional theatres, and in London we have opened shows at The Donmar Warhouse, The Old Vic, The Royal Court, The Young Vic and in the West End. We also produce exciting work on a smaller scale, and today you are as likely to see our work in a festival tent as a Theatre Royal.