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Honorary Fellow

John Anthony LEONARD

2008 Honorary Fellow

John Anthony LEONARD


John Leonard was born and educated in Bristol, in the south-west of the United Kingdom.  His involvement in technical theatre began during his time as a student at the Bristol Old Vic Theater School.  In 1971, he joined the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company as a stage technician, moving to the sound department in 1972 and becoming head of sound for the company some six months later.  Here, John gained a great deal of experience working in different theatre environments including the Theatre Royal – the oldest theatre in Europe with a continuous working history, built in 1799.

During his time at the Bristol Old Vic, John introduced many innovative practices, including the use of stereophonic sound effects and surround-sound many years before these became commonplace in theatre.  Towards the end of his time there, he co-designed, with his colleague Alastair Goolden, a revolutionary new theatre sound control system, which saw commercial success as the Libra Theatre Sound Desk, winning the prestigious ABTT Product Of The Year Award in 1979.

After a period spent working freelance, John was invited to join The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) where, 1984, he was to become Head of Sound and an Associate Artist of the company.  He worked on most of the RSC’s most successful shows during his ten-year period there, transferring many to Broadway and touring others around Europe.

John left the RSC in 1989 to pursue a freelance career.  During this period, he received an honorary fellowship from the Guildhall School Of Music & Drama, for which he is a visiting professor of Theatre Sound, won a Drama Desk award, a Sound Designer of The Year Award and wrote an acclaimed textbook on theatre sound which is now in preparation for its second edition, as well as contributing to other books, journals and radio programmes.

Today John is as busy as ever working on projects in the UK, North America and China and with shows in London’s West-End, The National Theatre of Great Britain, The Royal Shakespeare Company and The Lincoln Center Festival.  John has also found time to lecture at the Hong Kong Academy for performing Arts and has worked as guest lecturer in the USA, South Korea and the Philippines.