Artistic Director of Royal and Derngate Theatres for the past seven years, James’ recent productions there have included premieres of The Pope, by Anthony McCarten, starring Anton Lesser and subsequently adapted into the 2020 Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA “Best Adapted Screenplay” nominated film The Two Popes and Our Lady of Kibeho, James’ third collaboration with playwright Katori Hall since premiering her first play The Mountaintop, which was the surprise winner of the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play following its transfer to the West End. Selected as one of the “Top 20 productions of the 21st century” in The Guardian, Our Lady of Kibeho recently transferred from Northampton to Theatre Royal Stratford East. It joined four other Royal & Derngate productions playing in the West End during 2019 and a further four transfers to The Southbank Centre, Hackney Empire, Wilton’s Music Hall and Shoreditch Town Hall.
Meanwhile, Royal & Derngate toured work to over 120 venues nationwide and internationally in 2019, received Fringe First, UK Theatre and Stage Awards, attracted over 600,000 audience members and 23,000 participants, was nominated for the UK Theatre Award in Excellence in Inclusivity and was selected as “Outstanding Theatre of the Year” by Michael Billington.
James is a Trustee of Britain’s primary Black-led theatre company, Talawa, for whom he has led on the recruitment of the company’s new Chair and Chief Executive. He is Board Director of the Olympics legacy charity Spirit of 2012 and sits on the Board’s Finance and Risk Committee. Last year he was chosen by the Foreign Office to represent the Performing Arts as a Franco-British Young Leader, promoting greater cultural exchange with France. He was formerly Associate Director at The New Vic Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, Associate Director at Theatre503 and Associate at The National Youth Theatre.
Beyond Northampton, James’ work includes four productions at Shakespeare’s Globe – As You Like It (World Tour and UK Theatre Renee Stepham Award), Holy Warriors, King John (UK Theatre Award for Best Touring Production) and Othello (Complete Walk). His other productions include King James Bible at the National Theatre; The Accrington Pals (UK Theatre Award) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, Precious Little Talent (Evening Standard Award nomination) at Trafalgar Studios, 4000 Miles (Bath Theatre Royal) and in New York: The Unconquered (59E59th, Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland), Baal (Riverside Theatre) and Liberal Arts (Atlantic Theatre).
Previous productions at Royal & Derngate include the world premiere of Arthur Miller’s The Hook to mark the centenary of the playwright’s birth, The Herbal Bed (UK Tour and UK Theatre Award for Best Touring Production, 2016), A Tale of Two Cities (UK Tour and UK Theatre Award nomination), The Body of an American (Evening
Standard Award Nomination; Horton Foote Prize) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof . At the New Vic his directing included Copenhagen, Bus Stop, Desire Under the Elms and The Thrill of Love (West End transfer).
Writers commissioned by him since he’s been at Northampton include Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Ella Hickson, Roy Williams, Ron Hutchinson, April de Angelis, Dawn King, David Greig, Bryony Lavery, Barney Norris, Mike Poulton, Ayub Khan-Din, Nicholas Wright, Tamsin Oglesby, Phil Porter, Oladipo Agboluaje, D.C. Moore, Laura Lomas, Emma Reeves, Tim Crouch, Jessica Swale, Joel Horwood, Alistair Beaton, Georgia Pritchett, Matthew Bourne, Diverse City, Improbable, Spymonkey, Told by an Idiot, The Wardrobe Ensemble, Hydrocracker, Seven Sisters and Peeplykus.
James recently directed an acclaimed touring production of Verdi’s Macbeth (English Touring Opera/Hackney Empire) that was selected this month by the Evening Standard as one of three “Best Operas of 2019.” Other musical collaborations include new work with composers Elena Langer, Orlando Gough, Anne Dudley, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Guy Chambers, Valgeir Sigurosson, White Lies, These New Puritans and Rachel Portman.
“His catholic taste in writers, attention to detail and powers of invention form a unique calling card…another round in his hugely assured campaign as a director to win hearts and minds wherever he travels.” The Daily Telegraph
“As artistic chief, Dacre has turned Northampton into an essential destination.” The Observer
“A reputation for adventurous commissioning which few British theatres can match.” BBC Worldwide
“The theatre director who turned his Northampton venue into a powerhouse” The Independent