Jaq Bessell has directed over 40 professional productions of plays by Shakespeare and by modern playwrights in New York and London, and in regional theatres across the USA. Her career began in casting at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and she was Head of Research at Shakespeare’s Globe under Mark Rylance’s tenure, where she advised the Artistic Directorate on early modern stage practices and developed her interest and expertise in verse-speaking. In 2016 she and the renowned dancer and director Lindsay Kemp co-directed Romeo and Juliet for the Verona Shakespeare Festival, and this collaboration led to the founding of NOMA Physical Theatre, whose somatic approach to classical text exceeds the boundaries of language and disciplines. Before COVID intervened, Jaq regularly led workshops in verse-speaking, Shakespeare and the Viewpoints, in the UK, in France and in Italy.
She has taught in conservatoires on both coasts of the USA, and now leads the MA/MFA Acting programme at the Guildford School of Acting. She is the author of Shakespeare in Action for Arden Shakespeare, and has published extensively on Shakespeare in performance, in chapters and articles which stem from her work as a director and teacher of acting.