James was Joint Artistic Director of Paines Plough, the UK’s national theatre of new plays, 2009-2019. In that decade Paines Plough produced 49 world premieres on tour to more than 300 places across the UK and internationally by playwrights ranging from debutants to Olivier, Tony and BAFTA winners, staged in historic proscenium arch playhouses and student union bars, at music festivals and The National Theatre, in village halls, Off-Broadway, on BBC Radio and televised on HBO.
For Paines Plough James directed new plays by some of the UK’s leading writers including Mike Bartlett, James Graham, Kate Tempest, Tom Wells, Penelope Skinner, Elinor Cook, Nick Payne, Anna Jordan, Brad Birch, Marie Jones and Sam Steiner.
As a freelance director James’s credits include the new musical The Assassination Of Katie Hopkins for Theatr Clwyd which won Best Musical Production at The UK Theatre Awards 2018 and Brian Friel’s Translations for Sheffield Theatres, English Touring Theatre and The Rose Theatre Kingston which won Best Production at The UK Theatre Awards 2014. He directed a new production of Les Miserables for Wermland Opera in Karlstad in 2016.
James was formerly Associate Director at The Bush Theatre and founder of new writing company nabokov. He was awarded an MBE in 2020 for services to theatre.