Professor J. Michael Walton

Life and work

Life and work
Born in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1939, I joined the People's Theatre in Rye Hill after leaving school, acting in plays by Fry, Tennessee Williams, Hochwalder, Shakespeare, Willis Hall and Anouilh. I then appeared  at the 1958 Edinburgh Festival in André de Launay's The Aimless before becoming a student at St Andrews University.
My first degree was an MA in Classics under Kenneth Dover and Douglas Young at St Andrews where I directed plays with the Mermaids, including   Ionesco's The Bald Prima Donna, Peter Ustinov's The Love of Four Colonels, Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus (in St Andrews Castle), Tennessee Williams' Camino Real and Giraudoux's The Madwoman of Chaillot.
I subsequently gained the Postgraduate Diploma in Drama at the University of Bristol  (then the country's only independent University Drama Department),  specialising in Directing and Design.
My first major professional  engagement was after winning an ABC TV scholarship  to spend a year at the Theatre Royal in York under their trainee director sponsorship scheme. At York, or during York's summer season at Scarborough Opera House, I directed seven productions, worked on all aspects of technical theatre and acted in the repertory seasons.
In 1965 I joined the University of Hull as the third member of staff in the Drama Department, which had been founded as Britain's third Drama Department two years earlier in 1963. The first Joint Honours degree students began their course in 1966 and graduated in 1969. The Department then moved into the Gulbenkian Centre and a Single Honours Drama course was introduced in 1971.The Department developed and changed over the years but always maintained a balance between formal academic work in theatre history and dramatic literature, and practical aspects of technical, design and performance-based theatre, made possible by the exceptional facilities. In my time in the Department I directed numerous plays and taught courses in Classical Theatre, Masks and Puppets, Russian Theatre, American Theatre, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Theatre, Directing and Acting. I gained a PhD by publication before being awarded a Personal Chair in 1992. I am a member of The Classical Association,  The Society of Authors and a Longserving Member of British Actors Equity.


Career at Hull University

2004-5        Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow

2003-          Emeritus Professor of Drama

1997-2003  Founder/Director of The Performance Translation Centre

1994-2000    Governor Scarborough College

1994 -2003 First Established Chair of Drama at Hull University

1992-4        Personal Chair

1990-6        Head of Department  of Drama

1965-92      Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader



2011-          Advisory Board Didaskalia.

2008-          Editorial Board Journal  of Adaptation in Film and Performance.

2004           National Theatre of England: Platform Speaker.     

2003           Joint Organiser and Respondent, APA Panel, New Orleans.

2003-          Editorial Board of Gramma (Thessaloniki).

2002           Museum Guest Scholar, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

                   Guest Lecturer, ITI, Athens.

2001 and 2004    Member of the Jury for the Onassis International Theatre Competition.  

2000-          Board of Management, DESMI, Athens.

1999-2001  Vice-Chair, HEFCE RAE 2001 Panel on Drama, Dance and the Performing Arts; Board    Member,     1995-6 Panel.

1998-2002  Advisory Panel for the Graeco-Roman Theatre at Malibu, J. Paul Getty Museum.

1997-          Co-editor of The Greek and Roman Theatre Archive  (Harwood).

1994-9        Guest lecturer, University of California (LA, Riverside, San Diego).

1994           Getty Consultant/dramaturg J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, and dramaturg for production at of my translation of Menander's The Woman from Samos.

1990           President of the International Jury for the Theatrical Competition of Classical Drama for Young People at Delphi.

1984-2006  Project and Revenue Panels Drama Adviser, Arts Council of England (80 reviews).

1984-90      Governor, Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama.

1984-7        Member of the first Training Committee, The Directors Guild of Great Britain. 

1972-3        Visiting Professor, University of Denver.

1963-5        Professional theatre as an actor and director.



I have directed more than fifty productions with professional or student casts, including:            
Aeschylus    Libation-Bearers
Sophocles    Oedipus at Colonus
Euripides     Alkestis
                    Bacchae (twice, once in America)
                    Medea Complex (a one-woman version for Nike Imoru,
                    performed at the 2000 Delphi Festival).
                                          Bacchae, 1983
                                           Alkestis, 1995
                                           Medea, 1998

Also plays by:
Shakespeare, Sheridan, Mrs Inchbald, Mrs Henry Wood (adapted by T.A. Palmer),
Alfred Jarry, Chekhov, Shaw, Alexander Blok, Stravinsky/Cocteau, Noel Coward,
e e cummings, Mayakovsky, Yevgeniy Schwartz, Vivian Ellis, Jean Giraudoux.
Tennessee Williams, Dylan Thomas, Ionesco, Frisch, Dürrenmatt, Beckett,
Hugh Leonard, James Saunders, Anne Jellicoe, David Mamet.
Various of my translations of Greek tragedy and comedy have been widely performed
in America and the UK, as well as in Ireland, Greece and Cyprus.