Iqbal Khan (director)

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Iqbal Khan is a theatre director. He is associate director at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre[1] and Associate Artist of Box Clever Theatre Company.

Education and influences

Khan is British Pakistani, and one of five brothers.[2] Khan began his studies at University of Cambridge in math and physics, but he became involved in theatre. His first show was a university production of Twelfth Night in which he played the priest, so he "spent a lot of time in a rehearsal room listening and observing other people".[3] He started his own company, Liberal Tongue Productions, and later earned an MA with Distinction from Middlesex University in Theatre Directing. He held a RYTDS bursary for young directors, and in 2002, he directed a production of Othello at Leicester Haymarket Theatre as part of the bursary.[4] He had a Japanese Fellowship for Young Directors in 2005–6.[5]

Khan cites music and the sound and rhythm of words as key influences in his work with Shakespeare and other playwrights.[6]



Khan acted in a number of plays, especially with his theatre company, Liberal Tongue Productions. He played roles such as Othello and Prospero, and he acted in leading roles in An Ideal Husband and The Maids.[7]


Into the Woods (2004) at Birmingham Hippodrome, The Baby and Fly Pie (2005) for Royal Exchange, Manchester that was "conceived for young audiences".[8] In 2006, he directed Too Close to Home for the Lyric Theatre (Hammersmith) and subsequent tour.[9] In 2007, he directed Tiger at the Gates, the English translation of The Trojan War Will Not Take Place for National Studio, Days of Hope for Birmingham's Midlands Arts Centre.

He rose to prominence when in 2008 he directed two plays by Harold Pinter - A Slight Ache & Landscape - for the Royal National Theatre with Simon Russell Beale and Claire Higgins.[10] He directed Arthur Miller's Broken Glass starring Anthony Sher in 2011-12 for Tricycle Theatre & Vaudeville, becoming "the first British Asian to direct a play in the West End".[11]

Khan directed East Is East in 2009 for Birmingham Repertory Theatre and directed it there again in 2021 when the production traveled to the Royal National Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre.[12] Oleanna (2009) for Octagon Theatre, Bolton He directed the revival of Rafta, Rafta...(2010) for Octagon Theatre, Bolton, and his direction was described as "spot on and makes the very most of the laughs in the script without sacrificing the more tender moments."[13]

Khan directed thew world premiere of Gyles Brandreth's Wonderland at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010.[14] and The Killing of Sister George in 2011 for Arts Theatre. He directed Educating Rita in 2015 at Oldham Coliseum Theatre, Macbeth at Shakespeare's Globe in 2016,[15] and Harwant Bains' Blood at Royal Court Theatre in 2018.[16]

He has also directed at Soho Theatre, Contact Theatre, Oldham Coliseum, Leicester Cruve, and Ezuko Theatre Company in Japan.

Royal Shakespeare Company

Khan' 2012 production of Much Ado About Nothing for the World Shakespeare Festival relocated the setting to modern-day Delhi. Khan's 2015 production of Othello starred Hugh Quarshie as Othello, the first time a Black actor had played the role at the RSC, and Lucian Msamati as Iago.[17]

In 2017, his Antony and Cleopatra was described "as upstanding as Hopkins’s Roman columns" and starred Josette Simon in the lead role.[18] He directed a new version of Tartuffe in 2018 that is set in a Pakistani-Muslim community in Birmingham, UK.[19]

Music and opera

Khan directed Madama Butterfly in 2003 at Lyric Theatre (Hammersmith) and Minack Theatre,[20] He directed Senna Konjaku Mukashi Katari Opera for the Sennan Arts Centre in Japan and Falling Across (2006) at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

He was an associate to Graham Vick for Otello for Birmingham Opera Company in 2009, and the production was the first to star a Black singer in the title role in the United Kingdom.[21] He directed Treemonisha in 2010 for Pegasus Opera,[22] and in 2011–12, he directed the opera version of The Importance of Being Earnest for Riverside Studios.[23] In 2015, Khan directed the rare Gaetano Donizetti opera, Wild Man of West Indies for English Touring Opera.[24]

In 2016, he directed "Shakespeare at the Bowl, " at the Hollywood Bowl in conjunction with Shakespeare's Globe and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, combining scenes from Shakespeare with music.[25]

Arts development and service

Khan was part of the development of several new plays, which he directed as well. They include Ishy Din's Snookered in 2012 for Tamasha Theatre Company,[26] Golgotha in 2012 at Tristan Bates Theatre,[27] Imaam Imraan in 2019 for National Youth Theatre[28] (Bradford Literature Festival), and The Blood Contract in 2020 for Tara Arts.[29]

He directed Antony and Cleopatra at Nanjing University in 2018 to develop a new translation. He is the director of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, for which more than 1,700 people auditioned.[30]


Khan has lectured at numerous universities including Michigan State University, Lafayette College, Nanjing University, The Ohio State University, University College London. In 2019, he was the Michael Douglas Visiting Artist at University of California, Santa Barbara.[31]

Honors and awards


  1. ^ "The REP appoints new Associate Director". Arts Professional. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  2. ^ Iqbal, Nosheen. "Much ado about Delhi: RSC's Indian Shakespeare". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  3. ^ "Shakespeare Unlimited: Iqbal Khan". Folger Shakespeare Library. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  4. ^ Sutherland, Gil. "INTERVIEW: RSC director Iqbal Khan #ArtistInRetreat". Stratford-upon-Avon Herald. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  5. ^ Cheesman, Neil. "Interview with Iqbal Khan". London Theatre 1. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  6. ^ "Shakespeare Unlimited: Iqbal Khan". Folger Shakespeare Library. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  7. ^ "How Did I Get Here? / Iqbal Khan". Box Clever Theatre. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  8. ^ Hickling, Alfred. "The Baby and Fly Pie". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  9. ^ "Too Close to Home". The Stage. Retrieved 7 July 2022.
  10. ^ Fisher, Philip. "A Slight Ache and Landscape". British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  11. ^ Iqbal, Nosheen. "Much ado about Delhi: RSC's Indian Shakespeare". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  12. ^ "'East is East' – A modern classic that remains as powerful and relevant as it was 25 years ago when it first hit the theatre, says director Iqbal Khan…". Asian Culture Vulture. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  13. ^ Chadderton, David. "Rafta Rafta". British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  14. ^ Levy, Paul. "Wonderland". Fringe Review. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  15. ^ "Shakespeare: Iqbal Khan Defends His Globe Macbeth". Theatre Voice. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  16. ^ "Retracing Our Footsteps". Royal Court Theatre. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  17. ^ "Iqbal Khan's 2015 Production". Royal Shakespeare Company. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  18. ^ Kellaway, Kate. "Antony and Cleopatra review – Josette Simon is a Cleopatra to die for". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  19. ^ Billington, Michael. "Tartuffe review – RSC's buoyant satire of modern religious hypocrisy". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  20. ^ "Madam Butterfly". Ciaran Bagnall Designs. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  21. ^ Maddocks, Fiona. "Othello/BOC; Otello/LSO; Der Rosenkavalier; Aleksandar Madzar – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  22. ^ "2010 National Tour: Treemonisha". Pegasus Opera Company. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  23. ^ Taylorq, Paul. "The Importance of Being Earnest, Riverside Studios, Hammersmith". The Independent. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  24. ^ Morley, Christopher. "Director Iqbal Khan: My grim view of Birmingham has changed". Business Live. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  25. ^ Swed, Mark. "Shakespeare at the Bowl is much ado but about what?". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  26. ^ Cheesman, Neil. "Interview with Iqbal Khan". London Theatre 1. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  27. ^ "Golgotha". Time Out. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  28. ^ "Imaam Imraan". National Youth Theatre. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  29. ^ "The Blood Contract". Black Theatre Live. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  30. ^ "Commonwealth Games: Rehearsals begin for Birmingham's opening ceremony". BBC. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  31. ^ "Michael Douglas Visiting Artist: Iqbal Khan". UCSB Theatre/Dance. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  32. ^ "CLASS OF 2019: Theatre director tells DMU graduates to 'enjoy discovering who you are'". De Montfort University, Leicester. Retrieved 5 July 2022.