From 1970 – 1973 John worked as an actor, stage manager and stage technician in various repertory and West End theatres, and in 1974 was appointed Associate Director of The Contact Theatre in Manchester where productions included Osborne’s ‘Look Back in Anger’, ‘Downright Hooligan’ by Chris Bond and ‘Twelfth Night’. In 1976 he directed ‘The Changeling’ by Middleton & Rowley, taught Elizabethan drama for one semester at Ottowa University Drama Department and directed ‘Last Resort’ by Peter Flannery for The Sidewalk Theatre Company and ‘Regina V Stephens’ by David Illingworth for The Avon Touring Theatre Company.
In 1977 John joined the R.S.C as Assistant Director to Trevor Nunn on ‘As You Like It’ and in 1978 was appointed Resident Director of the R.S.C and productions included ‘Dance of Death’ by Stringberg (1979, Other Place and Warehouse), ‘Twin Rivals’ by Farquhar (1981, Other Place and The Pit) and ‘Our Friends in The North’ by Peter Flannery (1982, Other Place and The Pit).
In 1983 John was made an Associate Director of the R.S.C and further productions were ‘Twelfth Night’ (1983, Stratford), ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1983, Tour and Other Place), ‘Merchant of Venice’ (1984, Stratford), ‘Red Star’ by Charles Wood (1984 The Pit), ‘Philistines’ by Gorky (1985, Other Place and The Pit), ‘Misalliance’ by G B Shaw (1986, The Swan), ‘The New Inn’ by Jonson (1987, The Swan), ‘A Question of Geography’ by John Berger & Nea Bielski (1987, Other Place and The Pit), ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (1988, Stratford) and ‘As You Like It’ (1989, Stratford).
John Caird’s collaboration with Trevor Nunn at the R.S.C. began with ‘Merry Wives Of Windsor’ in 1979 at Stratford.
In 1980 Caird and Nunn co-directed ‘The Life And Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby’ at the Aldwych Theatre which won the SWET and Evening Standard Awards for Best Director. This Production opened in New York in 1981 (and was awarded a Tony for Best Director) and in Los Angeles in 1986. They adapted and co-directed ‘Les Miserables’ at the Barbican in October in 1985 and this transferred to the Palace Theatre in December 1985, where it has continued to play to capacity since. ‘Les Miserables’ is now acknowledged as the most successful stage musical ever, with about 16 productions worldwide. ‘Les Miserables’ won 7 Tony Awards in 1987, including Best Director.
In 1982 John Caird directed ‘Song and Dance’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber at the Palace Theatre, productions of which continue to be performed worldwide. In 1984 he directed ‘As You Like It’ at the Stadsteatern, Stockholm.
In 1985 he wrote and directed ‘Kingdom of the Spirit’ for Derek Jacobi and the ‘Medici String Quartet’. In 1989 John wrote and directed ‘The Seigfried and Roy Spectacular’, which opened the new Mirage Hotel Resort in Los Vegas. ‘Children of Eden’, a musical which John directed and co-wrote with Stephen Schwartz, played at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1991 and has had several subsequent productions in America. In the Summer of 1991 John directed Mozart’s unfinished opera ‘Zaide’ for the Battignano Opera Festival in Tuscany. John returned to the R.S.C. in 1992 to direct ‘The Beggars’ Opera’ and ‘Antony & Cleopatra’ as part of the Stratford season, as well as the Premiere of Richard Nelson’s new play ‘Columbus’, at the Barbican. In 1993 John directed ‘Trelawny of the Wells’ by Pinero at the National Theatre and ‘Life Sentences’ by Richard Nelson at Second Stage Theatre, New York.
John directed the hugely acclaimed production of ‘The Seagull’ at The National starring Judi Dench, and Raquel Welsh in ‘The Millionairess’. John directed ‘Henry IV’ as a single play for Screen 2 with Rufus Sewell in 1995. John also directed ‘Stanley’ for the Royal National Theatre which enjoyed an extremely successful run and which opened at the Circle In The Square Theatre on Broadway in January 1997, where it enjoyed a very successful run. Other notable productions include ‘Hamlet’, ‘Money’, ‘Peter Pan’ and his own new version of Bernstein’s ‘Candide’.
He recently directed ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Twelfth Night’ at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm and a musical adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’ in New York.
After a sell out run last year at the Royal National Theatre, John transferred ‘Humble Boy’ to the West End to great acclaim. He also directed the US production of ‘Humble Boy’ at the Manhattan Theatre Club.
John directed ‘What the Night Is for’ starring Gillian Anderson and ‘Rattle of a Simple Man’ in the West End.
He directed Simon Russell Beale in ‘Macbeth’ for the Almeida Theatre in 2005
He also set up The Mustardseed Arts Trust to encourage and promote the work of young playwrights and theatre directors.
In 2005 John directed ‘Don Carlos’ for Welsh National Opera. In the same year he also directed ‘The Screams of Kitty Genovese’ for the Publick Theater in New York.
John directed ‘The Beggars’ Opera’ at the Nissay Theatre, Tokyo, ‘Twin Spirits’ at the New Victory Theater in New York and ‘Les Misérables’ at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York in 2006.
He received the Nippon Engeki Kogyo Kyukai Award for ‘Kinshu’, ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘The Beggars’ Opera’.
In 2007 John directed ‘Dödsdansen’ at the Dramaten, Stockholm, ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the New National Theatre in Tokyo and ‘Kinshu’ at the Galaxy Theatre also in Tokyo.
He also received the 2007 Kikuta Kazuo Theatre Award for Special Achievement in Japanese Theatre.
Productions that John directed in 2008 and 2009 include: ‘The Beggars’ Opera’ (2008, Nissay Theatre, Tokyo), ‘Aida’ (2008, Welsh National Opera, Cardiff and Birmingham), ‘Private Lives’ (2008, Theatre Crié, Tokyo), ‘Merry Wives Of Windsor’ (2009, Dramaten, Stockholm), ‘Brief Encounter’ (2009, Houston Grand Opera), ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (2009, Tokyo & Toyama), ‘Jane Eyre’ (2009, Nissay Theatre, Tokyo), ‘Daddy Long Legs’ (2009 Rubicon Theatre, California), and ‘Kinshu’ (2009, Galaxy Theatre, Tokyo & Japanese Tour).
In 2010 John directed a revival of his own version of Bernstein’s ‘Candide’ in Tokyo in June. His new production of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ opened at Dramaten in October 2010 and ran in repertoire through the spring. ‘Daddy Long Legs’ was on a rolling world première tour of the US.
John directed a new production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for Dramaten, Stockholm in 2011.
In December 2012 John’s new Christmas musical ‘Little Miss Scrooge’, co-written with Paul Gordon and Sam Caird, had a series of workshop presentations at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre in California. A full production follow in Christmas 2013.
‘Daddy Long Legs’ opened at the St James’s Theatre in London on 7th November 2012 for a limited run closing on the 8th December.
A revival of his Japanese production of ‘Jane Eyre’, with Matsu Takako and Hashimoto Satoshi opened at the Nissay Theatre in October 2012 and toured to Hakata in November.
In October 2012, John’s new production of Puccini’s ‘La Bohème’ opened at Houston Grand Opera, starring Katie van Kooten and Dimitri Pittas with designs by David Farley and conducted by Evan Rogister. This is a co-production with Canadian Opera Company and San Francisco Opera where it opened in October 2013 and October 2014 respectively.
John’s production of the 5 Act French version of Verdi’s ‘Don Carlos’ opened at Houston Grand Opera in Texas in April 2012, conducted by Patrick Summers. This was the final leg of a co-production with the Welsh National Opera and Canadian Opera Company where it played in the seasons of 2005 and 2007 respectively.
John’s production of his musical ‘Daddy Long Legs’ with music and lyrics by Paul Gordon, toured the US and Canada in 2013. It had its Japanese language première for the TOHO Company at Theatre Crié in Tokyo in September 2012, translated by Maoko Imai and starring Inoue Yoshio and Sakamoto Maaya – and was revived there in January 2013.
In May 2013, John’s production of Puccini’s ‘Tosca’ opened at LA Opera, starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Marco Berti and Lado Ataneli and conducted by Placido Domingo.
John’s production of Puccini’s ‘La Bohème’ opened at Canadian Opera Company in Toronto in October 2013, conducted by Carlo Rizzi. Cast included David Lomeli, Grazia Doronzio and Joshua Hopkins.
John directed a new production of Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ at the Lyric Opera of Chicago with designs by Johan Engels and conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Cast included Paul Groves, Thomas Hampson, Daveda Karanas, Tomas Tomasson and Kwangchul Youn, in 2014.
His production of the new play ‘McQ’ about Alexander McQueen opened at the St James Theatre in May 2015 and recently transferred to the Haymarket, West End.