Mark Rylance

Mark Rylance
Mark Rylance
Born David Mark Rylance Waters
18 January 1960 (1960-01-18) (age 51)
Ashford, Kent, England, UK
Occupation Actor, theatre director, playwright
Years active 1980–present
Spouse Claire van Kampen

Mark Rylance (born 18 January 1960) is an English actor, theatre director and playwright.

As an actor, Rylance found success on stage and screen. For his work in theatre he has won Olivier and Tony Awards among others, and a BAFTA TV Award. His film roles include Ferdinand in Prospero's Books (based on Shakespeare's The Tempest), Jay in Intimacy (after a novel by Hanif Kureishi) and Jakob von Gunten in Institute Benjamenta (after a novel by Robert Walser).

He was the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe in London, from 1995 to 2005.


Life and career

Early years

Rylance was born David Mark Rylance Waters in Ashford, Kent, the son of David and Anne (Skinner) Waters, both English teachers (as an adult, he took the stage name of Mark Rylance because the name Mark Waters was already taken by someone else registered with Actors Equity). In 1962, when he was two, his parents moved to Connecticut in the United States and in 1969, to Wisconsin, where his father taught English at a prestigious preparatory school, the University School of Milwaukee. Rylance later attended the school, where he began acting. His first notable role was Hamlet in a 1976 production (with his own father as the First Gravedigger), and the next year he played Romeo in the school's production of Romeo and Juliet. In addition to acting, Rylance designed lighting and helped compose music for the school's productions. He often soloed in the school choir.


With considerable juvenile experience already in hand, Rylance won a scholarship by audition to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in London. There he trained from 1978–1980 under Hugh Cruttwell, and with Barbara Bridgmont at the Chrysalis Theatre School, Balham, London. In 1980 he got his first professional work at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre.

In 1982 and 1983, Rylance performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) both in Stratford-upon-Avon and London.

In 1988, Rylance played Hamlet with the RSC in Ron Daniels' acclaimed production that toured Ireland and England for a year. The play then ran in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Mark alternated Hamlet with Romeo in the production of Romeo and Juliet that inaugurated the rebuilt Swan Theatre in Stratford. Hamlet toured to the United States for two years.

In 1990, Rylance and Claire van Kampen (later his wife) founded "Phoebus' Cart", their own theatre company. The following year, the company staged The Tempest on the road in unique, unusual sites.

Also in 1991, Rylance played the lead in Gillies Mackinnon's film The Grass Arena (1991), and won the BBC Radio Times Award for Best Newcomer. In 1993, he starred in Matthew Warchus' production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Queen's Theatre, produced by Thelma Holt. His Benedick won him an Olivier Award for Best Actor.

In 2005, he took the leading role as British weapons expert David Kelly in Peter Kosminsky's The Government Inspector, an award-winning Channel 4 production for which he himself won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in 2005.

In 2007, Rylance performed in Boeing Boeing in London. In 2008, he reprised the role on Broadway and subsequently won Drama Desk and Tony Awards for his performance. (For his acceptance speech for the Tony, Rylance recited a work by poet Louis Jenkins.)

In 2009, Rylance won the Critics' Circle Theatre Award Best Actor, 2009 for his role of Johnny Byron in Jerusalem written by Jez Butterworth at the Royal Court Theatre in London.

In 2010 he starred in a revival of David Hirson's verse play La Bête, with David Hyde Pierce and Joanna Lumley. The play ran first at London's Comedy Theatre before transferring to the Music Box Theatre theatre on Broadway, on 23 September 2010.

Also in 2010, Rylance won another Olivier award for best actor in the role of Johnny Byron in Jerusalem at the Apollo Theatre, London. In 2011 he won his second Tony Award for playing the same role in the Broadway production (for his acceptance speech, he again recited a Louis Jenkins poem.)

Globe Theatre

In 1995, Rylance became the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, a post he filled until 2005. Rylance directed and acted in every season, in works by Shakespeare and others, notably in all-male productions of Twelfth Night where he starred as Olivia, and Richard II where he took the title role. Under his directorate, new plays were performed at the Globe, the first being Augustine's Oak (referring to Augustine of Canterbury and Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon England) by Peter Oswald, the writer-in-residence, which was performed in 1999. A second play by Oswald followed in 2002: The Golden Ass or the Curious Man. In 2005, Oswald's third play written for the Globe was performed for the first time: The Storm, an adaptation of Plautus' comedy Rudens (The Rope) – one of the sources of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Other historical first nights were organised by Rylance while director of the Globe including Twelfth Night performed in 2002 at Middle Temple, to commemorate its first performance there exactly 400 years before, and Much Ado about Nothing at Hampton Court in summer 2004.

Shakespeare controversy

On 8 September 2007 Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance unveiled a Declaration of Reasonable Doubt on the authorship of Shakespeare's work, after the final matinée of I am Shakespeare, a play in Chichester, England.

The actual author was identified as Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere or Mary Sidney (Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke). The declaration named 20 prominent doubters of the past, including Mark Twain, Orson Welles, John Gielgud and Charlie Chaplin and was made by Shakespeare Authorship Coalition duly signed online by 300 people to begin a new research. Jacobi and Rylance presented a copy of the document to William Leahy, head of English at Brunel University, London.[1]

Rylance wrote (co-conceived by John Dove) and starred in The BIG Secret Live—I am Shakespeare—Webcam Daytime Chatroom Show (A comedy of Shakespearean identity crisis) which toured England in 2007.

Personal life

In 1992 he married Claire van Kampen whom he met while working at the National Theatre.[2] His stepdaughter is actress Juliet Rylance, who is married to actor Christian Camargo.

Mark Rylance has been a supporter of the indigenous rights organisation Survival International for many years.[3] He is the creator and director of "We Are One, a celebration of tribal peoples", a fundraising to take place at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue on Sunday 18 April 2010. The evening was a performance of tribal prose and poetry from some of the UK and Hollywood’s leading actors and musicians. About the event he has said: ”As a child, I was enriched and inspired by the lives and stories of the world's tribal peoples. As an adult, I have also been inspired by the ceaseless work of the organisation Survival International, and their movement to protect these tribes – from the rainforest of the Amazon to the icy reaches of the Arctic...To celebrate 40 years of Survival's work and enjoy the beauty of the spoken word from such rich oral cultures, I am gathering my friends from the theatre on the set of Jerusalem for a wonderful spring afternoon of eloquent recitals and stunning images from 'We are One’."



Shakespeare's Globe Theatre


  • The McGuffin (1985) .... Gavin
  • Wallenberg: A Hero's Story (1985) (TV) .... Nikki Fodor
  • The Grass Arena (1991) .... John Healy (won the BBC Radio Times Award for Best Newcomer)
  • Prospero's Books (1991) .... Ferdinand
  • Love Lies Bleeding (1993) (TV) .... Conn
  • Loving (1995) (TV) .... Charlie Raunce
  • Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life (1995) ....Jakob von Gunten
  • Angels & Insects (1995) .... William Adamson
  • Biography playing "Hamlet/Himself" in episode: Hamlet (February 1995) (TV)
  • Henry V (1997) (TV) .... King Henry V
  • Intimacy (2001) .... Jay
  • Leonardo (2003) (TV) .... Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Hearts of Fire (1987) .... Fizz
  • William Shakespeare (2000) .... Artistic Director, Shakespeare's Globe
  • Changing Stages (2001) (TV) Series .... Himself
  • Richard II (2003) (TV) .... Richard II
  • Celebrity Naked Ambition (2003) (TV)
  • Breakfast playing "Himself" (19 April 2004) (TV)
  • The Government Inspector (2005) (TV) .... Dr. David Kelly (won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor)
  • The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) .... Thomas Boleyn
  • Blitz (2011)......Roberts
  • Anonymous (2011) .... Shakespearean actor


  • Mark Rylance: PlayA Recollection in Pictures and Words of the First Five Years of Play at Shakespeares's Globe Theatre. Photogr.: Sheila Burnett, Donald Cooper, Richard Kolina, John Tramper. Shakespeare's Globe Publ., London, UK. 2003. ISBN 0-9536480-4-4.
  • The Wisdom of Shakespeare Series by Peter Dawkins (Foreword by Mark Rylance):
  • The Wisdom of Shakespeare in As You Like It. I.C. Media Productions, 1998. Paperback. ISBN 0-9532890-1-X.
  • The Wisdom of Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice. I.C. Media Productions, 1998. Paperback. ISBN 0-9532890-0-1.
  • The Wisdom of Shakespeare in Julius Caesar. I.C. Media Productions, 1999. Paperback. ISBN 0-9532890-2-8.
  • The Wisdom of Shakespeare in The Tempest. I.C. Media Productions, 2000. Paperback. ISBN 0-9532890-3-6.
  • The Wisdom of Shakespeare in Twelfth Night. I.C. Media Productions, 2002. Paperback. ISBN 0-9532890-4-4.
  • Peter Dawkins. The Shakespeare Enigma (Foreword by Mark Rylance). Polair, UK. 2004. Illustrated paperback, 476pp. ISBN 0-9545389-4-3.


  1. ^ "Coalition aims to expose Shakespeare". yahoo! News. 8 September 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-27. [dead link]
  2. ^ General Register Office. England & Wales, Marriage Index: 1984–2005 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007.
  3. ^

External links

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