Topics: Culture and Urbanism
Regional focus: Oceania
Origin: New Zealand
Fellowship: Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow

Simon Phillips began his career in New Zealand before immigrating to Australia in 1984 to take up a position as lecturer and director at the West Australian Academy for Performing Arts. He was an associate director at the Melbourne Theatre Company from 1987 to 1989 before being appointed Artistic Director of the State Theatre Company of South Australia from 1990 to 1993. He returned to the Melbourne Theatre Company as Artistic Director from 2000 to 2011, overseeing the design and construction of the company’s new headquarters and the Southbank Theatre.

His directing credits range from new works to contemporary and Shakespearean classics to musicals to opera. He has directed works by most of the great contemporary writers (Albee, Beckett, Brecht, Churchill, Hare, McDonagh, Orton, Shepherd and Stoppard) as well as the premieres of many works by leading Australian writers, including David Williamson, Hannie Rayson, Stephen Sewell, Matt Cameron and Joanna Murray-Smith.

HIs many musical credits in Australia include Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (which has had numerous international seasons including the West End and Broadway), the new Australian version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies (which was filmed by Universal, has had seasons in Tokyo and Hamburg, and is currently touring the US), Muriel’s Wedding, the Musical, which recently opened to public and critical acclaim in Sydney, and Ladies in Black, the award-winning new Australian musical which he created with Tim Finn and his wife, Carolyn Burns.

His opera credits include Il Turco in Italia, L’Elisir d’Amore, Falstaff, La Bohème and Lulu for Opera Australia, The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni for Opera New Zealand, Otello for Cape Town Opera and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Billy Budd for Hamburg State Opera.

He is the recipient of many Australian Theatre awards and has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Melbourne.


Last update: 2018