As one of London’s most daring and visionary commissioners of contemporary art and artists, Jules Wright took a characteristically innovative approach to showcasing new talent. Australian born, she came to the UK as a Commonwealth Scholar in 1975. She studied at Bristol University, going on to achieve a PhD in Psychology in 1982. Her love of theatre was nurtured as a student in Bristol and Clare Venables, then Artistic Director of the Theatre Royal Stratford East, gave her a fortuitous break, inviting her to direct while still a student.
Jules directed her first main stage production at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, in May 1979, starring the then unknown Tom Wilkinson. Just two years later, she was appointed as a Resident Director at the Royal Court Theatre, and soon after became Artistic Director of the Theatre Upstairs and Associate Director of the Royal Court. From 1984 to 1986, Jules was Artistic Director of the Liverpool Playhouse, alongside Associate Directors, Willy Russell and Alan Bleasedale, before returning to the Royal Court as Associate Director and then Deputy Artistic Director where she remained until 1992 when she went on to pursue a wide ranging international career as a freelance director. From 1997, her work revolved around commissioning, first writers and later composers, choreographers, visual artists, fashion designers, filmmakers and photographers.
Recognised as one of the leading directors of her generation, Jules’s career in the UK included productions at the Old Vic, Royal Exchange, Royal Festival Hall, West End transfers, theatre, opera and television (BBC) and international work in Europe, (Ibsen at the Royal National Theatre of Norway) Australia (Sydney Opera House and Sydney Theatre Company), Turkey (Mozart at the State Opera of Istanbul) and South America (Macbeth in Sao Paulo). Her reputation for work with contemporary playwrights has been acknowledged in a series of national awards, including Plays and Players (1983); Time Out, City Limits and Plays and Players (1984), Olivier/SWET Awards and Evening Standard (1985), John Whiting Award (1986), Samuel Beckett and George Devine Awards (1988), Evening Standard and Sydney Critics’ Circle (1990), BBC Opera (1992).
At The Wapping Project, Jules was committed to commissioning new work from young and established artists who share qualities of innovation and experimentation, many have gone on to become major players in the UK’s cultural landscape. In October 2009, Jules launched a new, independent photographic gallery – The Wapping Project Bankside.
Jules was diagnosed with cancer in February 2015 and passed away on 21 June 2015.