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Image of Phelim McDermott

Phelim McDermott


Phelim McDermott has been directing and performing since 1984. In 1996 he co-founded Improbable.

He co-founded dereck dereck Productions with Julia Bardsley and productions include Cupboard Man, as solo performer (Fringe First), Gaudete, as co-director and performer (Time Out Director’s Award) and The Vinegar Works, The Glass Hill and The Sweet Shop Owner, all as director.

Career Highlights

Productions with Improbable include:

The multi-award-winning 70 Hill LaneLifegame, Animo, Coma, Spirit, Sticky, Cinderella, The Hanging Man, Theatre of Blood, Panic, Beauty and the Beast, The Still and The Tempest.

For the company he has also directed Glass’s Satyagraha, in collaboration with ENO and the Metropolitan Opera, New York, The Perfect American in collaboration with ENO and Teatro Real, Madrid, and Così fan tutte in collaboration with ENO and Metropolitan Opera.

He developed a musical version of The Addams Family (Broadway) with Crouch and Elephant Eye Productions, and directed the Metropolitan Opera’s 125th Anniversary Gala and the world premiere of The Enchanted Island. In 2003 he was awarded a NESTA fellowship to research new ways of rehearsing and creating theatre using improvisation and process-oriented conflict facilitation techniques. As part of this work he has facilitated many Open Space Technology events. He was made an Honorary Doctor of Middlesex University in 2007.

Other directing: Most recently he directed A Christmas Carol in the West End; he also directed Alex (Arts Theatre and tour); The Ghost Downstairs (Leicester Haymarket); Dr Faustus and Improbable Tales (Nottingham Playhouse); The Servant of Two Masters, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Government Inspector (West Yorkshire Playhouse); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (English Shakespeare Company in 1996/97, TMA Award for Best Touring Production). He co-wrote with Lee Simpson and appeared in Get Off My Foot. He directed Shockheaded Peter (London; Little Schubert Theatre, Off Broadway) with Julian Crouch; a junk opera collaboration with The Tiger Lilies for Cultural Industry (Olivier Award for Best Entertainment, TMA Best Director Award and Critics Circle Best Designer Award).

Last updated: 14th March 2016