James
Grieve

Director for Theatre

James is a freelance director.

He was Joint Artistic Director of Paines Plough, the UK’s national theatre of new plays for ten years

In James' tenure alongside George Perrin, Paines Plough produced more than 45 world premieres on tour to over 230 places across the UK and internationally by playwrights ranging from debutants to Olivier, Tony and BAFTA winners, staged in historic proscenium arch playhouses and student union bars, at music festivals and The National Theatre, in village halls, Off-Broadway, on BBC Radio and televised on HBO. In 2014 they launched Roundabout, the world's first pop-up plug-and-play theatre to tour new plays to underserved places. 


For Paines Plough James has directed new plays by writers including Mike Bartlett, James Graham, Kate Tempest, Tom Wells, Penelope Skinner, Elinor Cook, Nick Payne, Anna Jordan, Brad Birch, Marie Jones and Sam Steiner.

As a freelance director James’s credits include the new musical The Assassination Of Katie Hopkins for Theatr Clwyd which won Best Musical Production at The UK Theatre Awards 2018. He directed a brand new production of Les Miserables for Wermland Opera in Karlstad, Sweden, which played for nearly two years in two theatres. His production of Brian Friel’s Translations for Sheffield Theatres, English Touring Theatre and The Rose Theatre Kingston won Best Production at The UK Theatre Awards 2014.

James was Associate Director at The Bush Theatre from 2008-2010 where his credits included The Whisky Taster by James Graham, 66 Books: A Nobody by Laura Dockrill, St Petersburg by Declan Feenan and Psychogeography by Lucy Kirkwood.

In 2001, James founded the new writing company nabokov with George Perrin and Ric Mountjoy. The company forged an international reputation for presenting theatre events everywhere from pubs to warehouses to music festivals to Off-Broadway, including James’ production of Mike Bartlett’s Artefacts.

James trained as assistant and associate to Josie Rourke, and as staff director to Howard Davies at The National Theatre, and on The National Theatre Directors Course.

CV

Theatre

Director 

Fred Ebbs and John Kander's iconic musical 


Gothenburg Opera Autumn 2020
Writer David Baddiel
Starring
  • Alan Davies
  • World Premiere of David Baddiel's debut play.

    Science and religion go head-to-head in a ferociously funny battle for power, sex, fame and followers.

    Soho Theatre
    Writer Sam Steiner
    Starring
  • David Carlyle, Andrew Finnegan, Becci Gemmell, Lydia Larson
  • World Premiere of Sam Steiner’s hopeful new play about the end of the world.

    Paines Plough / Theatre Royal Plymouth
    Writer Anna Jordan
    Starring
  • Rakesh Boury, Katherine Kotz, Vedi Roy, Ciaran Alexander Stewart
  • World Premiere of Anna Jordan’s celebration of love and pop music with integrated British Sign Language and captioning.

    Latitude Festival/ Birmingham Rep Theatre
    The Assassination of Katie Hopkins
    Winner – Best Musical Production, UK Theatre Awards 2018
    Writer Chris Bush and Matt Winkworth
    Starring
  • Maimuna Memon
  • Bethzienna Williams
  • A smart, witty new musical about truth, celebrity and public outrage.

    Theatr Clwyd
    Black Mountain
    Nominated - Best Director, The Offies 2018. // Nominated - Best Production in the English Language. Wales Theatre Awards 2018.
    Writer Brad Birch
    Starring
  • Hasan Dixon, Sally Messham, Katie Elin Salt
  • A tense psychological thriller about betrayal and forgiveness by winner of the Harold Pinter Commission Brad Birch. Part of Paines Plough’s Roundabout Rep 2017.

    Paines Plough / Theatr Clwyd / The Orange Tree
    Out Of Love
    Shortlisted - The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2018.
    Writer Elinor Cook
    Starring
  • Hasan Dixon, Sally Messham, Katie Elin Salt
  • A tale of friendship, love and rivalry over thirty years from award-winning playwright Elinor Cook. Part of Paines Plough’s Roundabout Rep 2017.

    Paines Plough / Theatr Clwyd / The Orange Tree
    How To Be A Kid
    Winner - Best Play for Young Audiences, Writers Guild Awards 2018.
    Writer Sarah McDonald Hughes
    Starring
  • Hasan Dixon, Sally Messham, Katie Elin Salt
  • A larger than life story of family, friends and fitting in for ages 7+. Part of Paines Plough’s Roundabout Rep 2017.

    Paines Plough / Theatr Clwyd / The Orange Tree
    Writer Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil
    Starring
  • Christer Nerfont
  • Philip Jalmelid
  • Cecilie Nerfont Thorgersen
  • New production of the classic musical which ran for nearly two years in two Swedish theatres.

    Wermland Opera, Sweden
    Writer Tom Wells
    Starring
  • Faye Christall, Andrew Finnegan, Grace Hogg-Robinson
  • World Premiere of Tom Wells’ new play with songs by Matthew Robins.

    Paines Plough / Live Theatre, National Tour
    Writer James Graham
    Starring
  • Mark Arends, Pearl Chanda, Patsy Ferran, Scarlett Alice Johnson, Harry Melling, Felix Scott, Lizzy Watts
  • World Premiere of James Graham’s thriller about a young urban guerilla group that mobilises against MPs, embassies, police and pageant queens.

    Paines Plough / Plymouth Theatre Royal, National Tour, Bush Theatre
    Writer Mike Bartlett
    Starring
  • John Hollingworth, Rachael Stirling
  • World Premiere of Mike Bartlett’s razor sharp comedy about friendship.

    Paines Plough / Watford Palace Theatre
    Translations
    Winner – Best Production, Theatre Awards UK 2014
    Writer Brian Friel
    Starring
  • Cian Barry, Niall Buggy, Paul Cawley, John Conroy, Beth Cooke, Hannah James, Rory Murphy, Roxanna Nic Liam, James Northcote, Ciaran O'Brien
  • Revival of the Brian Friel classic.

    ETT / Sheffield Theatres / The Rose, National Tour
    Writer Kate Tempest
    Starring
  • Michelle Gayle
  • Gbemisola Ikumelo
  • Cat Simmons
  • Martina Laird
  • Amanda Wilkin
  • World Premiere of Kate Tempest’s incendiary play about love and redemption.

    Paines Plough / Birmingham Rep, National Tour
    Writer Guy Jones, after Maxim Gorky

    A new version of Gorky’s play by Guy Jones.

    Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
    Writer Tom Wells
    Starring
  • Philip Duguid-McQuillan
  • Vivienne Gibbs
  • Andy Rush
  • Jamie Samuel
  • Matt Sutton
  • Comedy about football, friendship and finding your way
    Paines Plough / Watford Palace Theatre, National Tour, Bush Theatre
    Producer Paines Plough
    Writer Mike Bartlett
    Starring
  • Claire Foy
  • Victoria Hamilton
  • Ben Miles
  • George Rainsford
  • Sam Troughton
  • Royal Court transfer of Mike Bartlett’s hit play.

    Royal Court Theatre
    Writer Penelope Skinner
    Starring
  • Maia Alexander
  • Alistair Cope
  • Kate O'Flynn
  • Andrew Sheridan
  • World premiere of Penelope Skinner's new play about a girl who disappears in mysterious circumstances
    Paines Plough / Sheffield Theatres
    Producer Oran Mor & Paines Plough
    Writer David Watson
    Starring
  • Rebecca Elise
  • Rachel Ogilvy
  • Jack Reid
  • Part of A Play, A Pie and A Pint

    Paines Plough / Oran Mor, National Tour
    Writer Laura Dockrill
    Starring
  • Alex Beckett
  • Part of Sixty-Six Books, an epic performance cycle featuring over 100 artists from across the globe responding to each book of the King James Bible.

    Bush Theatre
    Producer Paines Plough
    Writer Kate Tempest
    Starring
  • Alex Cobb, Ashley George, Lizzy Watts / Cary Crankson, Alice Haig, Bradley Taylor
  • Kate Tempest’s exhilarating debut play about life, love and losing your mind.

    Paines Plough / Birmingham Rep / Roundhouse / Latitude, National Tour
    Writer Marie Jones
    Starring
  • Abigail McGibbon
  • Katie Tumelty
  • Hilarious new comedy from Stones In His Pockets writer Marie Jones. Two care workers are tempted when one of their patients wins on the bookies and isn't around to collect the winnings.

    Paines Plough / Oran Mor, National Tour
    Writer Laurence Wilson
    Starring
  • Kevin Harvey
  • Michael Ryan
  • Fast-paced inquisition into Broken Britain
    Paines Plough / Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, National Tour
    Love, Love, Love
    Best New Play, Theatre Awards UK 2011
    Writer Mike Bartlett
    Starring
  • Ben Addis, James Barrett, Simon Darwen, Daniela Denby-Ashe, John Heffernan, Lisa Jackson, Rosie Wyatt
  • World première of Mike Bartlett's take on the baby boomer generation
    Paines Plough / Plymouth Theatre Royal, National Tour
    Writer James Graham
    Starring
  • Samuel Barnett
  • Chris Larkin
  • Simon Merrells
  • Kate O'Flynn
  • World Premiere of James Graham’s play about two Generation Y-ers who fall in love at an advertising agency.

    Bush Theatre
    Writer Simon Stephens
    Play capturing Britain as it crashes from the euphoria and promise of the 2012 Olympics announcement into the devastation of 7/7
    Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff
    Writer Leo Richardson
    Starring
  • Alice Haig, Jason Maza, Becky Oldfield
  • Love in a time of austerity: Cheryl does seduction on a budget to avoid another weekend of tedium with her disinterested boyfriend.

    nabokov, Latitude Festival
    Writer Simon Stephens
    Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
    Writer David Eldridge
    Starring
  • Danny Dalton, Madeline Herrington, Paul Moriarty
  • World premiere of David Eldridge’s short play about a family coming to terms with the loss of their matriarch.

    Arcola
    Writer Martin Figura

    Staging of Martin Figura’s autobiographical poetry collection.

    London Roundhouse, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Stanza and Ledbury Festivals international tour.
    Writer Declan Feenan
    Starring
  • Mairead McKinley, Geoffrey Hutchings
  • Centrepiece of The Broken Space Season.

    Bush Theatre
    Writer Lucy Kirkwood
    Starring
  • Josephine Butler, Rupert Evans
  • Late night horror short.

    Bush Theatre
    Writer Isy Suttie
    Avalon, Pleasance, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
    Writer Patrick Marber
    Starring
  • Jay Simpson
  • World Premiere of Patrick Marber’s short play.

    The nabokov Arts Club
    Artefacts
    Winner - Old Vic New Voices Award
    Writer Mike Bartlett
    Nabokov / Bush Theatre, National Tour, 59E59 New York
    Writer Simon Brodkin
    Avalon, Pleasance, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
    Writer Luke Wright
    Pleasance, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, National Tour
    Writer Duncan Macmillan
    Theatre 503
    Simon Brodkin - Everyone But Himself
    Winner - Best Newcomer, The List Awards
    Writer Simon Brodkin
    Avalon, Pleasance, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
    Writer Luke Wright
    Pleasance Edinburgh Festival Fringe, National Tour
    Writer Mike Bartlett
    Starring
  • Elizabeth Boag, Stephen Fletcher
  • Old Vic, Starbucks 24 Hour Plays
    Writer Van Badham
    nabokov, Pleasance Edinburgh Festival Fringe, National Tour
    Writer Van Badham
    nabokov, C Venues Edinburgh, Old Red Lion
    Writer Van Badham
    nabokov, Crucible Studio Sheffield, C Venues, Edinburgh

    Radio

    Writer 

    Writer Nick Payne
    Starring
  • Clare Corbett, Monty d’Inverno, Bryan Dick, Roslyn Hill, Karl Johnson
  • A new play for radio commissioned to celebrate Paines Plough’s 40th anniversary.


    Broadcaster BBC Radio 3