Frank Dunlop (director)

Frank Dunlop

Frank Dunlop in 2011 by Allan Warren
Born (1927-02-15)15 February 1927

Frank Dunlop (born 15 February 1927) is a British theatre director.


Early life

Dunlop was born in Leeds, England to Charles Norman Dunlop and Mary Aarons. He was educated at Beauchamp College, read English at University College London where he is now a Fellow, and studied with Michel Saint-Denis at the Old Vic theatre school in London.[1]

Dunlop was appointed CBE in 1977 and received the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Literature presented to him by the French government in 1987.[lower-alpha 1] [better source needed]


Dunlop founded and directed his own young theatre company, The Piccolo Theatre in Manchester (1954), and directed The Enchanted at the Bristol Old Vic in 1955 where, a year later, he became its resident director, writing and staging Les Frere Jacques. He made his West End debut at the Adelphi Theatre in 1960 with a production of The Bishop's Bonfire.

He took over the helm at the Nottingham Playhouse from 1961–1964, including the inaugural season of the newly built theatre in 1963, and then directed several plays in London, Oklahoma and Edinburgh. In 1966 he founded The Pop Theatre Company at the Edinburgh Festival, with productions of The Winter's Tale (also seen in Venice and London) and The Trojan Women.

Dunlop also produced the theatrical production of Oblomov, based on the novel by Russian writer Ivan Goncharov. The play opened at London's Lyric Theatre on 6 October 1964, and starred Spike Milligan as Oblomov, and Joan Greenwood as his wife Olga. The play ran for a record-breaking five weeks at the Lyric, before being retitled Son of Oblomov and moved to the Comedy Theatre in London's West End, with Dunlop once again the producer.[2]

The National and The Young Vic

In 1967, he joined the National Theatre as Associate Director, and worked as Administrative Director from 1968 to 1971, where he directed Home and Beauty (1968) The White Devil (1969) and The Captain of Köpenick starring Paul Scofield (1971).

While at the National, then located at the Old Vic, he took a crucial career step with the creation of The Young Vic in 1969. His productions for them included The Tricks of Scapino and The Taming of the Shrew (1970); The Comedy of Errors (1971); Genet's The Maids, Deathwatch and The Alchemist (1972); an acclaimed revival of Rattigan's French Without Tears, and his own play Scapino (1974); and Macbeth (1975). The original, high camp production of Bible One: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, starring Gary Bond, was created by him with the Young Vic company at the Edinburgh Festival in 1972, and transferred to the Round House in November 1972.

Broadway and beyond

For the RSC in 1974 he directed a revival of William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes, starring John Wood, at the Aldwych Theatre in London, which then enjoyed a long run in New York; where he again directed Scapino, starring Jim Dale, also seen in Los Angeles, Australia and Norway.

Dunlop's other New York successes included Habeas Corpus (1975) and The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1978), During this period he founded and for two years ran the BAM Theatre Company, directing for them The New York Idea, Three Sisters, The Devil's Disciple, The Play's the Thing and Julius Caesar.

Back in England he directed Rookery Nook for the Birmingham Rep and the Theatre Royal Haymarket (1979), and returning to New York the following year he directed Camelot starring Richard Burton.

Dunlop ran the Edinburgh Festival for eight triumphant years from 1984−1991.

Dunlop also received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1989 [3]

He has staged opera, including Carmen at the Royal Albert Hall, and in the summer of 2004 Jim Dale starred in the premiere of his adaptation of Kathrine Kressman Taylor's short epistolary novel Address Unknown at the Promenade Theatre on Broadway.


  1. Who's Who in the Theatre 17th edition, Dunlop's CV. Michel Saint-Denis ran the Old Vic theatre school from 1947-52
  2. Scudamore, Pauline (1985). Spike Milligan: A Biography. London: Granada. ISBN 0-246-12275-7. pp.215-216
  3. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". Retrieved 2016-04-04.


  1. "Profile of Dunlop at his talent agency". Archived from the original on 2006-09-30. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
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