Josie Rourke Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of administration papers, research, production and rehearsal notes and scripts relating to theatrical projects on which Josie Rourke has worked as production director or assistant director. Productions cover a range of venues, both London and regional as well as touring shows.

Administrative / Biographical History

Josie Rourke grew up and attended school in Salford, where a love of the theatre developed through frequent visits to the local Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and trips to Stratford. Rourke went on to read English at Cambridge, New Hall where she began directing theatre including the Footlights Pantomime. In 2000 she moved to London and got a year's appointment as assistant director at the Donmar Theatre, working under the then artistic director Sam Mendes. Here she assisted such eminent directors as Michael Grandage, Nicholas Hytner and Phyllida Lloyd.

Upon leaving the Donmar, Rourke assisted director Peter Gill on Luther at the National Theatre. The York Realist , their second production working together went on tour with the English Touring Company and transferred to the Royal Court. The success of this production led to Rourke being offered the post of trainee associate director at the Royal Court.

After her stint at the Court, Rourke worked for a long period as a freelance director, building up a range of productions including The Life and Death of King John and Believe What You Will for the RSC, Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew for the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, managing the UK tour of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues , 24 Hour Plays at the Old Vic and a revival of David Mamet's Cryptogram at the Donmar starring Kim Cattrall.

In-between freelance work Rourke served as an associate director at Sheffield Theatres under Sam West from 2004 to 2006, where she helped programme his opening season and directed him in the first production of his tenure in charge, Much Ado About Nothing .

Rourke joined the Bush Theatre as artistic director in 2007 and during her productive five years there managed to secure a permanent home for the theatre in the former Shepherd's Bush Library building as well as directing a variety of productions including If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet and Like a Fishbone .

Recently Rourke made her National Theatre debut with Men Should Weep , and in the spring of 2011 made her West End debut with the hotly anticipated production of Much Ado About Nothing at Wyndham's Theatre starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate.

In March 2011 it was announced that Rourke would take over from Michael Grandage as Artistic Director at the Donmar Warehouse. Her first production was The Recruiting Officer which starred Mark Gatiss. Rourke worked with many directors throughout her appointment as artistic director including Phyllida Lloyd and Kwame Kwei-Armah as well as working with the Executive Producer, Kate Packenham. A number of productions transferred from Donmar Warehouse including Conor McPherson's The Weir which transferred to the West-End; Les Liaisons Dangereuses which transferred to Broadway; and Privacy which transferred to The Public Theatre in New York. Rourke worked closely with James Graham on his BAFTA nominated play The Vote , which was broadcast live on the night of the 2015 general election in the UK, and starred Dame Judi Dench, Mark Gatiss, Nina Sosanya, and Catherine Tate. Rourke was Artistic Director until 2019.
Rourke's directional debut for film was released in January 2019 titled Mary Queen of Scots. The film, which was based on John Guy's biography Queen of Scots: The True life of Mary Stuart, was written by Beau Willimon and starred Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.


This collection has been arranged into the following series:

  • THM/342/1 - Production Files
  • THM/342/2 - Scripts
  • THM/342/3 - First-Night Cards
  • THM/342/4 - Unrelated or Unidentified Items
  • THM/342/5 - Tickets and Programmes
  • THM/342/6 - Photographs
  • THM/342/7 - Material relating to Cambridge University

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: .

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Josie Rourke, 2007, 2010 and 2011.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: .

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.


Further accruals to this collection are likely.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to Josie Rourke can be found in several collections, including the biographical and productions files.

Please ask for details.