Lolita Chakrabarti

Lolita Fanny
GW Old VIc
previous arrow
next arrow



Lolita Chakrabarti OBE is an award-winning playwright.  Her writing credits include Red Velvet, Life of Pi, Invisible Cities, HymnLast Seen and The Goddess.

In 2012 Lolita won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright, The Critics Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright and in 2013 won the AWA Award for Arts and Culture. In 2022 her adaptation of the Booker Prize winning novel Life of Pi scooping FIVE Olivier Awards, including Best New Play.

In January 2020 Lolita was listed in The Stage Top 100 at No 75.

The Almeida Theatre Live streamed February 2021/VoD March 2021
Returned to The Almeida to live audiences from 16th July 2021

“Man, sometimes it takes a long time to sound like yourself” Miles Davis

Two men meet at a funeral.

Gil knew the deceased. Benny did not.

Before long their families are close.

Soon they’ll be singing the same tune.

Benny is a loner anchored by his wife and children. Gil longs to fulfil his potential. They form a deep bond but as cracks appear in their fragile lives they start to realise that true courage comes in different forms.

Featuring music from Gil and Benny’s lives, Lolita Chakrabarti’s searching, soulful new play asks what it takes to be a good father, brother or son.

Directed by Blanche McIntyre (The Writer), Hymn features Adrian Lester (Red VelvetHustle) and Danny Sapani (Killing EveLes Blancs).

The sold out run of Hymn was streamed live from The Almeida whilst in lockdown, was available on demand and broadcast on Sky Arts. It returned to The Almeida with live in-person audiences in July 2021.

Life of Pi
Wyndham's Theatre, London's West End from November 2021
Sheffield Crucible 28 June - 10 July 2019

After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, five survivors stranded on a single lifeboat - a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, a sixteen-year-old boy and a hungry Bengal tiger. Time is against them, nature is harsh, who will survive?

Based on one of the most extraordinary and best-loved works of fiction – winner of the Man Booker Prize, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide – Life of Pi is a dazzling new theatrical adaptation of an epic journey of endurance and hope. A film of the book, adapted by Ang Lee, was released in 2012 and was nominated for ten Oscars, winning four.

Life of Pi was nominated for nine Olivier Awards in 2022 and won five, including Best New Play, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.

Life of Pi also won four awards at the UK Theatre Awards including Best Play and Best Performance in a Play, was the first play outside of London to ever win Best New Play at the Whatsonstage Awards 2020 and scooped the Best Book to Stage Award at the CAMEO Awards.

Message in a Bottle (dramaturg)
Sadlers Wells 6 Feb - 21 March 2020

Message In A Bottle is the spectacular new dance-theatre show from triple-Olivier Award nominee, Kate Prince to the iconic hits of 17-time Grammy Award-winning artist Sting, including Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, Walking On The Moon, Fields Of Gold, Englishman In New York and Shape Of My Heart.

With a mix of exhilarating dance styles, dazzling footwork and breathtaking athleticism set to the music of Sting, Message In A Bottle tells a vital and uplifting story of humanity and hope.

Message In A Bottle is the latest masterpiece from the ground-breaking creator behind Some Like it Hip Hop, Into The Hoods, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (choreography) and SYLVIA, and features the astonishing talents of dance storytelling powerhouse, ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company.

Invisible Cities
2 - 14 July 2019 at MIF, UK
 24 - 28 September 2019 at Brisbane Festival, Australia

Manchester International Festival 2019 (MIF19) presented the world premiere of Invisible Cities, inspired by the renowned 1972 novel, which centres on the relationship between Kublai Khan, the volatile head of a vast empire, and explorer Marco Polo. Polo must conjure the cities of this epic empire to Khan’s satisfaction or lose his life.

Lolita collaborated with director Leo Warner, choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, digital projectionists 59 Productions and contemporary dance company Rambert.  They came together for the first time to create this extraordinary new, site-specific work, which pushes the boundaries of live performance.

Conceived by 59 Productions, Invisible Cities opened at Manchester’s Mayfield, a vast and atmospheric former train depot, transformed through a spellbinding mix of theatre, choreography, music, architectural design and projection mapping.

Other venues to be announced.

Stones of Venice

Based on “Invisible Cities” Stones of Venice, written by Lolita, is a digital glimpse of the world that will be brought to life live on stage for the New Vision Arts Festival.

The Greatest Wealth
25 - 29 June 2018 The Old Vic, London
Updated July 2020 The Old Vic, London/YouTube

Lolita curated The Greatest Wealth, a collection of eight original monologues to salute the NHS on its 70th birthday, at The Old Vic. She also wrote one of them.

Lolita brought together a fantastic, diverse mix of writers including Meera Syal, Moira Buffini, Jack Thorne and Paul Unwin and the Old Vic cast incredible talent including Art Malik, Dervia Kirwan, Jade Anouka, Meera Syal and Ruth Madeley, who each represented one of the eight decades since the NHS was founded.

The series was updated in July 2020, in the mists of the Coronavirus, to celebrate the NHS's 72nd Birthday, with a monologue written by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, performed by Sharon D Clarke and directed by Adrian Lester.

Red Velvet
2012, 2014 & 2016. Tricycle Theatre, London: St Anne's Warehouse New York; The Garrick Theatre, London's West End

Red Velvet first opened at the Tricycle Theatre in London in 2012. It returned to a sold out run at the Tricycle in 2014 before transferring to New York and then opened in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s inaugural seasonat the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End in 2016.  Red Velvet was nominated for nine major awards including two Oliviers.

Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 1833. Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, has collapsed on stage whilst playing Othello. A young black American actor has been asked to take over the role. But as the public riot in the streets over the abolition of slavery, how will the cast, critics and audience react to the revolution taking place in the theatre?

Red Velvet has had over twenty-five production in the United States and is on the A level and University drama syllabus.

Last Seen: Joy
July 2009 Almeida Theatre, London

Last seen: Joy was a promenade performance starting at the Almeida Theatre, travelling around the environs of Islington.

Joy is looking for her lost daughter, Angel. We hear all about the child from her doting mother and soon realise that her absence hides a deep secret that may be too much for Joy to confront. A monologue performed by Lolita Chakrabarti with a supporting cast of young performers stationed all around Islington.


Adrian Lester and Lolita Chakrabarti: A Working Diary 

Being released by Bloomsbury/Methuem Drama 6th August 2020

In this insightful joint working diary, the creative powerhouse of a couple, Lolita Chakrabarti and Adrian Lester, chronicle 16 months of their fascinating working lives, including their experiences working on the stage adaptation of Life of Pi, an original series of monologues about the NHS, the film adaptation of Red Velvet and the TV series The Rook, among many other projects. As readers, we experience, first-hand, their experiences as two of the most proactive and versatile theatre makers today, working across a range of media and exciting collaborations.


Red Velvet for BBC Radio 4

The Goddess for Woman's Hour BBC Radio 4.

In development

Red Velvet (the film), For Joy (film), Politically Correct  (Fiery Angel), The Elephant Whisperer (White Dog Productions) and Testaments (The Roundhouse).

Lolita Chakrabarti OBE is an accomplished TV, film and stage actress, with credits spanning thirty years. She trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and has carved out an innovative, long running career.

TV & Film

In 2019 Lolita appeared in Sky Atlantic drama Riviera, Defending the Guilty for the BBC and Criminal for Netflix and movie All is True, starring Sir Kenneth Branagh.

She recently starred in the hugely successful BBC1 drama Vigil (image below, is currently starring in Showtrial (BBC1) and will be appearing in the much anticipated Wheel of Time (Amazon), starting mid November.

The ITV drama Jekyll and Hyde followed, along with Sky One's Delicious, Channel 4's Born to Kill and the BBC drama To Provide All People.

Her other screen credits include: Defending the Guilty (BBC), My Mad Fat Diary 3 (E4), Vera (ITV), Death in Paradise (BBC1), The Smoke (Sky1), One Night (BBC1), The Other Child (Teamworx), Thorne: Scaredeycat (Sky), Outnumbered, Hustle, Holby City, Extras Christmas Special, Waking The Dead, Silent Witness, Bodies – the Finale (BBC), Forgiven (Channel 4), The Last Detective, Fortysomething, Always and Everyone and WPC Jamilla Blake in The Bill (ITV). Other movies include Intruders & Venus.

In 2010 Lolita joined husband Adrian Lester for the BBC series When Romeo Met Juliet. In a unique experiment, two Coventry schools, mentored by Lolita and Adrian, attempt to put on a professional production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - each school cast as one of the two feuding families.


As a theatre actress Lolita has appeared in many productions including starring alongside Tom Hiddleston in Sir Kenneth Branagh's production of Hamlet at RADA in 2016.

Other theatre credits include Fanny & Alexander (Old Vic), Last Seen - Joy for the Almeida Theatre, The Great Game, Afghanistan for the Tricycle Theatre, the lead role in Free Outgoing for the Royal Court and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, John Gabriel Borkman for the Donmar Warehouse, Grimm’s Tales at theYoung Vic and Robert LePage’s Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Royal National Theatre.



"There are strong performances from a poised Lolita Chakrabarti". The Observer for Fanny & Alexander 

"Lolita Chakrabarti’s Mrs Wilton is an opulent, forthright plotter whose brazenness is a welcome contrast to the drab, highly-strung pair of sisters."  John Gabriel Borkman Donmar 

"Lolita Chakrabarti is both over poweringly sexual and hideously smug as the femme fatale". Tim Auld

"Mrs Wilton who is played by Lolita Chakrabarti with a majesty second only to Helen Mirren’s Queen."  Matt Wolf

"Chakrabarti is in matchless form as a fiercely spoken, deeply protective mother." Matt Wolf The International Herald Tribune for Free Outgoing 

"Lolita Chakrabarti gives a deeply upsetting performance as the increasingly desperate and sometimes cruel mother." Charles Spencer Daily Telegraph 

"Lolita Chakrabarti drives the show with a subtle, passionate performance that keeps pace with its rushing narrative."  Time Out 

"Magnificently played by Lolita Chakrabarti."  The Scotsman  for Free Outgoing 


Last Seen - Joy

"Joy’s tale, written and performed by the magnetic Lolita Chakrabarti, is an echo chamber of literary allusion, resonant of fairy tale, Blake and Greek and Norse mythology."  Sam Marlowe The Times 

"At one point Ms Chakrabarti scrawled ‘Joy is here’ on a door as we were passing. I doubt the graffiti is still there but the singular nature of the experience will be with me for some time to come."  Matt Wolf International Herald Tribune

Lolita supports a variety of charities and good causes including:

Amnesty International is a movement of ordinary people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights. Our purpose is to protect individuals wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied.
Lolita joined Olivia Colman, Indira Varma and Juliet Stephenson for Amnestry's #StillMarching: Women Making History event

The Royal Victoria Hall Foundation, for which Lolita is a trustee, is funded from the invested proceeds of the sale of The Old Vic Theatre in 1982 plus subsequent gifts and bequests, although it has existed as a charity since 1891.

The Foundation grants around 20-30 awards each year to various theatrical projects in London. Its two major aims are to help professional productions in need of financial support and to increase audiences for high-quality theatre, particularly if they are from groups traditionally underrepresented in the theatre. Also, it funds the Lilian Baylis Awards for promising students attending the accredited drama schools in the capital. The grants are made at the end of the students' second year and are intended to ease the financial pressures in their final year of study.

If you would like to know more about The Royal Victoria Hall Foundation, please see our website:

The Old Vic aims to be surprising, unpredictable, ground-breaking, rule-breaking, independent, accessible and uplifting.

The Old Vic is a not-for-profit theatre operating a breakeven budget in a historic, Grade II* listed building with the help of £3.9 million of philanthropic support every year from our generous supporters. We produce and present five to seven diverse productions every Season, enhanced by a vibrant programme of One Voice monologues, Voices Off talks, Lates and day-time events for Families. Off stage we engage with over 10,000 people a year from across the UK through our award-winning education, employability and community work.

Over the next few years we will be working hard to open up our building to more people than ever before, through an ambitious £20 million multi-phased capital building project that will transform the audience experience, educate and inspire the next generation. 

InterAct Stroke Support is a charity dedicated to supporting stroke recovery by using professional actors to deliver a stimulating and rich variety of reading material specially selected to suit the needs of stroke patients. InterAct's 160 professionally-trained actors read in 18 hospitals and over 50 stroke clubs across the country as well as leading a variety of community projects. Following a stroke (also referred to as a 'brain attack') reading and conversational interaction stimulates the brain, boosts memory and communication skills, improves mood and alleviates depression. Post-stroke rehabilitation can be a long process and InterAct supports stroke survivors every step of the way, from hospital recuperation to community reintegration.

Body & Soul Charity an award-winning charity transforming the profound impact of childhood adversity for 22 years, based in Farringdon, London. Whether someone has been neglected or abused, trafficked, attempted suicide or stigmatised because of HIV. Body & Soul believe in the transformational power of love to heal the impact of childhood trauma. 
Everything they do is about building protective factors and increasing resilience to liberate people from adversity and toxic stress. We do this by creating compassionate spaces where people can connect, heal and grow. 
Lolita is a Patron of Body & Soul

The Horniman Museum and Gardens opened in 1901 as a gift to the people in perpetuity from tea trader and philanthropist Frederick John Horniman, to ‘bring the world to Forest Hill’. Today the Horniman has a collection of 350,000 objects, specimens and artefacts from around the world. Its galleries include natural history, music and an acclaimed aquarium. A new World Gallery of anthropology opened in June 2018 and a new arts space, The Studio, opened in October 2018. Indoor exhibits link to the award-winning display gardens – from medicinal and dye gardens to an interactive sound garden, Butterfly House and an animal walk – set among 16 acres of beautiful, green space offering spectacular views across London.

The Eve Appeal is the only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research and raising awareness into the five gynaecological cancers – womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal.

We were set up to save women’s lives by funding ground-breaking research focused on developing effective methods of risk prediction, earlier detection and developing screening for gynaecological cancers. We have played a crucial role in providing seed funding, core infrastructure funding and project funding in addition to campaigning to raise awareness.

The world-leading research that we fund is ambitious and challenging but our vision is simple: A future where fewer women develop and more women survive gynaecological cancers.

Life of Pi

WINNER: Olivier Award Best New Play 2022

WINNER: Olivier Award Best Actor 2022

WINNER: Olivier Award Best Supporting Actor 2022

WINNER: Olivier Award Best Set Design 2022

WINNER: Olivier Award Best Lighting Design 2022

Nominee: Olivier Award Best Original Score or Orchestration 2022

Nominee: Olivier Award Best Director 2022

Nominee: Olivier Award Best Sound Design 2022

Nominee: Olivier Award Theatre Choreographer 2022

WINNER: UK Theatre Awards 2019 Best Play

WINNER: UK Theatre Awards 2019 Best Director

WINNER: UK Theatre Awards 2019 Best Actor

WINNER: UK Theatre Awards 2019 Best Design

Nominee: BroadwayWorld Awards 2019 Best Actor in a Play 

WINNER: BroadwayWorld Awards 2019 Best Video or Projection Design 

Nominee: BroadwayWorld Awards 2019 Best Direction of a New Play

WINNER: The Stage Awards 2020: Achievement in Technical Theatre

WINNER: Whatsonstage Awards 2020 Best New Play (first time in the history of the awards that a venue outside of London secured the prize)

Nominee: Whatsonstage Awards 2020 Best Regional Production

Nominee: 2020 Visionary Honours

WINNER: Cameo Awards 2020 Book to Stage Award

Nominee: Best playwright, Arts, Culture & Theatre Awards 2020

Red Velvet

Nominee: Olivier Award for Best Play in an affiliate theatre

WINNER: AWA Award for Arts and Culture 2013

WINNER: Most Promising Playwright, Critics Circle Awards 2012

Nominee: Best New Play, Whatonstage Awards 2013

Nominee: London Newcomer of the Year, Whatsonstage Awards 2013

WINNER: Charles Wintour Most Promising Playwright Award, Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2012

Of Mary

WINNER: Best Short Film at PAFF, Los Angeles.

Nominee: Best Producers, Underwire Festival 2011


Lolita was awarded an OBE in the Queens Birthday Honours List June in 2021 for services to the arts

Lolita is on the board of RAMBERT & RADA

Of Mary

A short film produced by Lolita and Rosa Maggiora and directed by Adrian Lester.

Raindance 2011. Official Selection.

Underwire Festival 2011. Official Selection.  Nominated for Best Producers.

LSFF London Short Film 2012 Festival. Official Selection.

Pan African Film Festival 2012. Official Selection. WON Best Short Film.

Montreal International Black Film Festival 2012. Official Selection.

International Black Woman's Film Festival 2012, San Francisco. Official Selection.

ICE Theatres' Black World Cinema Short Films Program 2012, Chicago. Screening and in competition.

ICE Theatres' Film Pavilion at the 2012 African Festival of the Arts 2012.

Red Velvet

There have been over 20 professional productions (P) and over 20 amateur productions (A) of Red Velvet worldwide since 2012.  They include:


Tricycle Theatre Oct - Nov (P)


Tricycle Theatre Jan/ Feb/ March  (P)

St Anne’s Warehouse NY March/April  (P)


Touchstone Theatre, Pennsylvania 23 February (A)

Shakespeare & Co, Lennox, Massachusetts August/September (P)

Independent Theatre, Adelaide 20 -24 November  (P)

Test, Fallbrook, California 1stOct – 31stDec (A)


Garrick Theatre, London West End Jan/Feb (P)

Gamut Theatre, Harrisburg,  Pennsylvania Jan 23 – Feb 7 (P)

Junction Theatre, Los Angeles 26 March – 30 April  (A)

Social Capital Theatre, Drfitwood Theatre Group, Toronto 15 May (P)

The Playhouse, San Francisco May 10 – June 25  (P)

San Jose Youth Shakespeare, California 12-14 August (A)

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Baltimore 2 September (A)

The FM Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, New Jersey 7 – 25 September (P)

Raven Theatre, Illinois 28 September – 27thNovember (P)


Port Neches Grove High School, Texas 4th March (A)

FreeFall Theatre, Florida 24thFebruary – 26thMarch (P)

The Old Globe, San Diego 25thMarch – 30thApril (P)

Community Room at St Michael’s College, Vermont 21stMay (A)

Social capital Theatre, Toronto, Ontario 15thMay (P)

Walking Shadow TC, The Southern Theatre, Minneapolis 12-28 May  (A)

Theatre at Monmouth, Maine 27 July – 17 August (P)

Breadloaf School of English, Vermont 4-5 August (A)

Lantern Theatre Company, Philadelphia 7 September – 8 October (P)

Austin Shakespeare, Texas 21-24 September (P)

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre 28 November 2017 – 21 January 2018 (P)


Chesapeake Shakespeare Theatre, Baltimore 2-24 February (A)

Actor’s NET of Bucks County, Morrisville, Pennsylvania 2-18 March (A)

Waldner Performing Arts, York College of Pennsylvania – 22-24 March (A)

Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati 6 – 31 March (P)

Jenny Mitchel Cultch Lab Theatre, Vancouver 8 April (A)

Cast @ Julian Middle School, Oak Park, Illinois 20-21 April (A)

Bureau of Theatre, Boston 30 May 0 16 June (A)

The Grandel Theatre, St Louis Missouri Oct 26 –Nov 18 (P)

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 1 December (A)

The Springfield Renaissance School, Massachusetts 15-16 December (A)


Quill Theatre, Virginia 24 January – 16 February (A)

University of Florida, Florida 25 January – 10 February (A)

Jewel Theatre Company, Santa Cruz, California 23 January – 17 February (P)

Northampton University in London 31 April – 2 June (A)

MIT Shakespeare Ensemble, Massachusetts 26 July – 3 August (A)

Stratford Festival, Ontario 29 August – 20 September (P)

Olney Theatre, Maryland 25 September – 27thOctober (P)

Guildhall School of Music and Drama 14-19 October (A) 


Grinnell College, Iowa 13-15 March (A)


Also saw this poster in the tube for Message in a Bottle created by @ZooNationUK Kate Prince for @Sadlers_Wells I was lucky to be a part of the creative team. So glad it’s back - it’s a beautiful piece of work. Come and see.

First preview tonight of @TheRSC @NealStProds Hamnet @NimaxTheatres Garrick Theatre. Best of everything to this wonderful group of artists who make this story live. 🙏🏽🌹

Went into the theatre @NimaxTheatres to do an interview. We are getting in, boxes everywhere, tech awaits. Lovely to be back at The Garrick. Feeling very lucky. 🙏🏽

On this final day in the rehearsal room I am on @ScalaRadio this morning talking to the lovely @WhichPennySmith about Hamnet @NimaxTheatres It's on your DAB radio, smart speaker, on the Scala Radio app or online

📸 Madeleine Mantock (Agnes), Rachel Seal (Specialised Senior Wig and Makeup Artist) and Jasmine Jackopson (Wardrobe Technician Grade 3) behind the scenes of Hamnet.  

📸 Dan Avery (Stage and Props Technician) behind the scenes of Hamnet. 

Photos by Manuel Harlan © RSC

Load More...