MA (Oxon), MA, PhD (Birmingham), FRSA
Russell is a native of Southport, Lancashire. After reading English at Wadham College, Oxford, where his tutors included Ian Donaldson and Terry Eagleton, Russell studied for the degrees of MA and PhD at the Shakespeare Institute, the University of Birmingham’s Stratford-based centre for graduate studies in Shakespeare and his contemporaries. He subsequently held posts at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama and in the Drama Department of the University College of North Wales, Bangor. From 1978 to 2004 he was a Fellow (and latterly, Director) of the Shakespeare Institute, before joining the Department of Drama and theatre Arts as Allardyce Nicoll chair in 2004.
Modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level on theatrical and dramatic history; study options on aspects of Shakespeare in performance and on the representation of theatres on film.
Dissertations and theses on theatre history and Shakespearean interpretation.
PhD title 'Pictorial Shakespeare, 1880-1890'
He has published on a wide range of topics - from Victorian fairy painting to Noël Coward. In 1999 the Society for Theatre Research published his translation of articles by the German novelist Theodor Fontane, under the title Shakespeare in London, 1851-58. With Jonathan Bate he edited The Oxford Illustrated History of Shakespeare on Stage (2nd edition, 2001) and he collaborated with Robert Smallwood on two volumes in the ‘Players of Shakespeare’ series for Cambridge University Press. He also edited the Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film, now in its second edition.
From 1994 to 2004 he reviewed Stratford productions for Shakespeare Quarterly, and his book on stagings of Romeo and Juliet appears in the series ‘Shakespeare at Stratford,’ under the New Arden imprint (2003). A monograph, Shakespeare Films in the Making: Vision, Production and Reception appeared from Cambridge University Press in 2007.
Theatres on Film: how the Cinema Imagines the Stage, was published in January 2013 by Manchester University Press. Shakespeare and the English-speaking Cinema for the Oxford Shakespeare Topics series (OUP) is due for publication in October 2014.
Since the mid-1980s Russell has worked as text adviser with Kenneth Branagh on stage and radio productions, and on all his Shakespeare films, and also on films by Oliver Parker (Othello, An Ideal Husband), John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) and - in a very minor capacity - Wolf Man. (He advised on aspects of the hero’s performance as a Victorian actor in the role of Hamlet.) His diary of the filming of Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet accompanies the published screenplay and a commentary by the double act of Branagh and Jackson accompanies the DVD release of the film. He has served on the boards of the Oxford Stage Company and Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and as an honorary governor of the RSC. In 2006 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Bangor, for his contributions to the study of Shakespeare on Film.
His most recent theatre work has been with Michael Grandage, with whom he has worked as text adviser on productions at the Crucible theatre, Sheffield and the Donmar Warehouse in London. Productions at the Donmar have included Othello (2008), the 2009 Donmar West End season (Twelfth Night with Derek Jacobi and Hamlet with Jude Law, which also played on Broadway) and in 2010-11 King Lear, with Derek Jacobi. Current plans include Richard II in the autumn of 2011. In July 2013 he was text consultant for Macbeth, direcetd by Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford in the Manchester Interntional Festival, and in the summer and autumn of 2013 he worked with Michael Grandage on A Midsummer Night's Dream and Henry V at the Noel Coward theatre, London. The Macbeth production was revived and restaged for performances at the Park Avenue Armory in New York in May-June 2014.
From 1985 to 2004 was an editor of Theatre Notebook, the journal of the Society for Theatre Research, and he remains on its advisory board. He is on the editorial boards of Shakespeare Survey - for which he writes an annual review of publications on Shakespeare in performanceand - and the online journal Shakespeare.
Shakespeare and the English-speaking Cinema (Oxford Shakespeare Topics series, Oxford: OUP, 2014)
Theatres on Film: how the Cinema Imagines the Stage (Manchester: MUP, 2013)
‘Salus populi: Shakespeare’s Roman plebeians on screen,’ Shakespeare on Screen: the Roman Plays, ed. Sarah Hatchuel and Nathalie Vienne-Guerin (Rouen and Le Havre: Publications des Universités de Rouen et du Havre, 2009) 71-98.
‘Henry Irving,’ in John Russell Brown, ed., The Routledge Companion to Directors’ Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 2008) 174-191.
‘Maurice Evans’ Richard II on stage, television and – almost- film,’ Shakespeare Survey, (2008)
‘Elijah Moshinsky’s BBC TV All’s Well That Ends Well and the aura of art,’ in Sarah Hatchuel and Nathalie Vienne-Guerin, eds. Television Shakespeare. Essays in Honour of Michèle Willems (Publications des Universités de Rouen et du Havre, 2008) 129-45
Shakespeare Films in the Making: Vision, Production and Reception (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Ed., The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film (Cambridge University Press, 2000; revised 2nd. ed., 2007)
‘”An Othello to forget”: Franco Zeffirelli’s Stratford Othello and its reputation,’ Shakespeare Bulletin 25/4 (2007) 11-21.
‘Remembering Bergner’s Rosalind: As You Like It on film in 1936’ in Peter Holland, ed., Shakespeare, Memory and Performance (CUP, 2006), pp.237-55
Introduction’ and ‘The Play in Performance’in revised edition of The Two Gentlemen of Verona in New Penguin Shakespeare (ed. Norman Sanders, 1968; revised ed. 2005)
Shakespeare at Stratford: ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (New Arden series, Thomson Learning: 2003.)
Ed. (with Jonathan Bate) The Oxford Illustrated History of Shakespeare on Stage, (Oxford: Oxford University press, 2001)
Translated and edited, Theodor Fontane, Shakespeare in London. (Society for Theatre Research, London, 1999)