Mark Ravenhill

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

Mark Ravenhill
Born1966 (age 5253)
OccupationPlaywright, actor, journalist

His 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 elder 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 seven, 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 respects historical theatre. He has said 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. Ravenhill has a love of traditional 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 as trying to represent contemporary British society, his later 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 the post-9/11 attitudes to terrorism, and 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; it 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.

His earlier short plays for young people, Totally Over You and Citizenship, both written for the National Theatre's National Theatre Connections Programme, continue to be produced.

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] They express his ambiguous and politically indirect later style.

In 2009 Mark Ravenhill presented a staged reading of A Life In Three Acts, transcripts of conversations with Bette Bourne, an actor, drag queen and equal rights activist, at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. The following year, he presented readings of this work at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY and the Soho Theatre in London. Bourne worked with Ravenhill previously on a short play, Ripper, playing Queen Victoria at the Union Theatre in London in 2007.

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 short play The Exclusion Zone premiered in October 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]

In 2012, Mark Ravenhill became the Royal Shakespeare Company's Writer in Residence.[9] The same year, he was commissioned by the London Gay Men's Chorus for a piece to mark the choir's 21st anniversary. With the music composed by Conor Mitchell, the piece, entitled Shadow Time, explores the evolution of mentalities in respect of homosexuality in the lifetime of the Chorus. The piece will be premiered at the Royal Festival Hall, on 6 May 2012 during the Chorus' summer concert: A Band of Brothers.[10]

Ravenhill created ITV sitcom Vicious with Gary Janetti which aired between 2013 and 2016.

In 2014, Ravenhill wrote a Doctor Who audio story entitled Of Chaos Time The[11]

In 2019, it was announced that Ravenhill will adapt The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams for performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company.[12]


  • 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 - A Song Cycle (2011)
  • Candide (2013)
  • The Cane (2018)[13]

Opera translations


  1. Ravenhill, Mark. 2001. Plays:1. Methuen. ISBN 0-413-76060-X. p.1-91
  2. Thorpe, Vanessa (19 September 2010). "Opera in a London pub aims to end elitism and high prices". The Guardian. London.
  3. "The University Of Bristol".
  4. Ravenhill, Mark (26 March 2008). "My near death period". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  5. Mark Ravenhill (17 October 2005). ""Theatres must stop producing so many new plays and focus more on the classics"". Guardian Unlimited.
  6. Ravenhill, Mark (12 November 2007). "My pink fountain pen has run dry". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 March 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 January 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. "Mark Ravenhill lands Royal Shakespeare Company role". BBC News. 30 November 2011.
  10. London Gay Men's Chorus turns 21, The Guardian, 3 May 2012
  12. Winter 2019 season announced, Royal Shakespeare Company, 28 Jan 2019
  13. "The Cane". Royal Court. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
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