Born in 1953 in England to an Irish family. Studied the English language and law at Cambridge. Obtained attorneyship at Middle Temple in 1979.
In 1981 Donnellan in partnership with set designer Nick Ormerod founded the company Cheek by Jowl with which he directed “Andromache” by Jean Racine; “A Family Affair” by Alexander Ostrovsky; “Sara” by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing; “Le Cid” by Pierre Corneille; “Vanity Fair” adapted from William Makepeace Thackeray; “The Duchess of Malfi” by John Webster; “The Midsummer Night Dream”, “Macbeth”, “Much Ado about Nothing” and “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare. As associate director with Royal National Theatre in London Donnellan staged Lope de Vega’s “Fuente Ovejuna”; Henrik Ibsen’s “Per Gynt”; Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America and some others.
Donnellan directed productions at the National Theatre of Finland, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Old Vic Theatre, to name just a few.
In 1997 Donnellan staged “The Winter Tale” at the Maly Drama Theatre in St. Petersburg. In 1998 he directed “Le Cid” by Pierre Corneille in the French language for the Avignon Theatre Festival. In the autumn of 2003 he staged the ballet “Romeo and Juliet” at the Bolshoi Theatre. Donnellan is the founder of Royal Shakespeare Theatre Academy in Stratford-upon-Avon.
In 2000 Donnellan set up a troupe of actors under the auspices of the Chekhov International Theatre Festival. With them he staged Alexander Pushkin’s “Boris Godunov”; William Shakespeare’s “The Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest”; Anton Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters”.
In 2012 Donnellan made his debut as film director with the movie “Bel Ami” with Robert Pattinson and Uma Turman. Author of the book “The Actor and the Target”
Golden Mask for the production of Shakespeare’s “The Winter Tale” at the Maly Drama Theatre in St. Petersburg (1997)
3 Lawrence Olivier Awards
Chevalier of French Order of Arts and Literature (2008)