Mark Ravenhill

Mark Ravenhill
Mark Ravenhill
Born 1966
Occupation Playwright
Nationality British

Mark Ravenhill (born 7 June 1966) is an English playwright, actor and journalist.

His most famous plays include Shopping and Fucking (first performed in 1996),[1] Some Explicit Polaroids (1999) and Mother Clap's Molly House (2001). He made his acting debut in his monologue Product, at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He often writes for the arts section of The Guardian. He is Associate Director of London's Little Opera House at The King's Head Theatre.[2]



Ravenhill is the older of two sons born to Ted and Angela Ravenhill. He grew up in West Sussex, England and cultivated an interest in theatre early in life, putting on plays with his brother when they were eight and four, respectively. He studied English and Drama at Bristol University from 1984–1987, and held down jobs as a freelance director, workshop leader and drama teacher.[3]

In 1997, Ravenhill became the literary director of a new writing company, Paines Plough. In 2003, when Nicholas Hytner took over as artistic director of the National Theatre, Ravenhill was brought in as part of his advisory team. In the mid-nineties, Ravenhill was diagnosed as HIV+, his partner of the early 1990s having died from AIDS.[4]

Although he was at the heart of new British playwriting in the 1990s and 2000s, Ravenhill is very respectful of historical theatre and has claimed that he would like to see directors focus more on the classics and stop producing new plays that don’t have as much substance or meaning.[5] In the same article, Ravenhill posits that directors have forced themselves into the “eternal present” , rather than expanding their reach to the many different cultures and genres of the past that they have to choose from. Further evidence of his interest in traditional theatre forms lies in Ravenhill's love of pantomime; he presented a Radio 4 documentary about the form and wrote Dick Whittington for the Barbican Theatre in 2006.

Ravenhill's work has transformed and developed in the 2000s. While his work in the 1990s - Shopping and Fucking, Handbag, and Some Explicit Polaroids for example - may be characterised by directly attempting to represent contemporary British society, his work has become more formally experimental and abstract. His one-man show, Product, which toured internationally after its premiere at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is both a satire on our post-9/11 attitudes to terrorism, and also a minutely observed reflection on the limits of language and form to capture contemporary reality. His play, The Cut, opened in 2006 at the Donmar Warehouse starring Sir Ian McKellen and divided critics with its portrait of a world dominated by the administering of a surgical procedure: the country, the year and the procedure are all unspecified. A similarly ambiguous and politically indirect style characterises the seventeen short plays that make up Ravenhill for Breakfast.

Ravenhill's former style continues to get an airing in the short plays he has written for young people, Totally Over You and Citizenship, both written for the National Theatre's National Theatre Connections Programme.

In November 2007, he announced in the Guardian that for the moment, he would concentrate on writing about heterosexual characters.[6]

In 2008 the Royal Court, The Gate Theatre, the National Theatre, Out of Joint, and Paines Plough collectively presented the seventeen short plays Ravenhill wrote for the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe under the title Ravenhill for Breakfast, retitled as Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat.[7]

He is also working on a TV series.

Ravenhill is a regular contributor to the annual Terror Season at the Southwark Playhouse in London, England. His new short play The Exclusion Zone, which he will also direct, will premier from October 12-October 31, 2010.

Ravenhill was appointed Associate Director of London's Little Opera House at The King's Head Theatre in September 2010.[2] He played an active role in the venue's relaunch as London's third Opera House along with patron Sir Jonathan Miller, Robin Norton-Hale and Artistic Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher.[8] He is currently in rehearsal for a new production of Monteverdi's Coronation of Poppea which he has translated and will direct at the venue, which opens in April 2010.[9]


  • Fist (1995)
  • Shopping and Fucking (1996)
  • Faust Is Dead (1997)
  • Sleeping Around (1998)
  • Handbag (1998)
  • Some Explicit Polaroids (1999)
  • Mother Clap's Molly House (2000)
  • Feed Me (Radio Play) (2000)
  • Totally Over You (2003)
  • Education (2004)
  • Citizenship (2005)
  • Product (2005)
  • The Cut (2006)
  • Pool (No Water) (2006)
  • Ravenhill For Breakfast (2007)
  • Scenes From Family Life (2007)
  • Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat (2008)
  • Over There (2009)
  • The Experiment (2009)
  • Ten Plagues (2011)

Opera translations

  • The Coronation of Poppea Monteverdi (2011)


  1. ^ Ravenhill, Mark. 2001. Plays:1. Methuen. ISBN 0 413 76060 X. p.1-91
  2. ^ a b Thorpe, Vanessa (19 September 2010). "Opera in a London pub aims to end elitism and high prices". The Guardian (London). 
  3. ^ University of Bristol Alumni
  4. ^ Ravenhill, Mark (March 26, 2008). "My near death period". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-08-30 
  5. ^ Mark Ravenhill, 'Theatres must stop producing so many new plays and focus more on the classics' Guardian Unlimited, 17 October 2005 [1]
  6. ^ Ravenhill, Mark (2007-11-12). "My pink fountain pen has run dry". The Guardian (London).,,2209690,00.html. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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