Stephen Unwin graduated from Cambridge University in 1982 and spent a year as Trainee Director at the Almeida.
He spent much of the 1980s at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh where he directed a mixture of Scottish and European plays, including Tilda Swinton, Simon Russell Beale, Alan Cumming and Ken Stott. Many of his productions were seen in London theatres, including the Royal Court, the Donmar and the Almeida. He was Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio and directed The Magic Carpet, their first play for under-fives.
In 1993 he founded English Touring Theatre, for whom he directed more than 30 productions of classical and new plays, including award-winning productions of Hamlet with Alan Cumming, Hedda Gabler, Henry IV Parts One and Two with
Timothy and Samuel West, King Lear with Timothy West and Ghosts with Diana Quick and Daniel Evans. These transferred to the Donmar and Old Vic. He produced two plays by Jonathan Harvey and Peter Gill’s award-winning The York Realist as well as Sir Peter Hall’s production of Uncle Vanya.
In 2008 Stephen became Artistic Director of Rose Theatre Kingston, which he ran until Jan 2014. His productions included Hay Fever with Celia Imrie, The Importance of Being Earnest with Jane Asher, The Lady from the Sea with Joely Richardson, The Vortex with Kerry Fox and Day in the Death of Joe Egg with Ralf Little.
He has directed 15 operas, at the Almeida, Opera 80, Garsington, Buxton Festival, ENO and the Royal Opera House. He has directed four plays for the Theatre Royal Bath.
He has written 10 books on theatre, drama and related subjects for Faber and Faber, Bloomsbury, Nick Hern Books and Oberon, as well as numerous articles for newspapers and journals. He has also written four original plays and numerous translations.