Lolita Chakrabati


lolita chakarabati

In May 2021, Lolita Chakrabarti joins us as a Visiting Fellow as part of the Humanities Cultural programme. While her events cannot take place with a live audience due to ongoing restrictions, we look forward to welcoming her and sharing her insights with a wide online audience. Lolita will return for a further Big Tent event later this year.


Lolita Chakrabarti is an award-winning playwright and actress. Writing credits include the stage adaptation of Life of Pi, Red Velvet and Hymn and acting credits include Hamlet, Riviera and the forthcoming Amazon series Wheel of Time and Vigil for the BBC. She trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and has carved out an innovative, diverse and long running career. 


Lolita adapted the classic novel Life of Pi for the stage, which won four awards at the UK Theatre Awards, including Best Play and Best Director. It will open in London's West End in 2021 after its premiere garnered 5-star reviews at the Sheffield Crucible in July 2019. Based on the award winning novel by Yann Martell, which received ten Oscar nominations as a film, Life of Pi's theatrical world premiere received huge critical acclaim. 

In the same month, Invisible Cities premiered at the Manchester International Festival, which Lolita adapted from the classic novel by Italo Calvino of the same name. It was an ambitious, stunning site specific production and a collaboration between Rambert dance company, choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, 59 Productions and Lolita. Invisible Cities also played at the Brisbane Festival in September 2019.


In 2012 Red Velvet premiered at the Tricycle Theatre in London.  It returned to the Tricycle in 2014, before transferring to St Ann's Warehouse in New York and onto the Garrick Theatre in London's West End, as part of Sir Kenneth Branagh's inaugural season at the Garrick Theatre.  Red Velvet was nominated for nine major awards including two Oliviers. Lolita won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright, The Critics Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright and the AWA Award for Arts and Culture.  


Lolita curated The Greatest Wealth at the Old Vic in London in 2018, commissioning eight monologues of which she wrote one, about the NHS on its 70th birthday.  Directed by Adrian Lester, it was a fitting tribute to an incredible history and starred Jade Anouka, Louise English, Dervla Kirwan, Ruth Madeley, Art Malik, Meera Syal, Sophie Stone and David Threlfall. The series was updated for an online audience in July 2020, in the midst of the pandemic with a new monologue written by Booker prize winning author Bernardine Evaristo and performed by Sharon D Clarke.

Hymn, a play by Lolita about male love, that is neither physical nor romantic, starring Danny Sapani and Adrian Lester, streamed live from The Almeida during the coronavirus pandemic to huge critical acclaim. 

Forthcoming projects include Calmer, written and starring Lolita, which will open at The Rep in Birmingham in 2021.


Other writing credits A Working Diary for Methuen, The Goddess for Woman's Hour BBC Radio 4 and Last Seen Joy for the Almeida Theatre, London.

Lolita also worked as dramaturg on Message in a Bottle, a show by Katie Prince and Sting, which opened at the Peacock Theatre in February 2020.


As an actress Lolita has enjoyed a long and varied career.  She appeared as Queen Gertrude, opposite Tom Hiddleston, in Sir Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (RADA) and starred in Fanny & Alexandra at the Old Vic in 2018.  

Other theatre credits include Last Seen - Joy (Almeida Theatre) which she also wrote, The Great Game, Afghanistan (Tricycle Theatre), the lead role in Free Outgoing (Royal Court and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh), John Gabriel Borkman (Donmar Warehouse), Grimm’s Tales (Young Vic) and Robert LePage’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (National Theatre).


TV roles have include J K Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy (BBC1/HBO), Criminal (Netflix), Defending The Guilty (BBC), To Provide All People (BBC2), Delicious (Sky One), Born to Kill (CH4), Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands (ITV), Vera (ITV), Jekyll and Hyde (ITV), My Mad Fat Diary 3 (E4), Death in Paradise (BBC1), One Night (BBC1), Smoke (Sky1), Outnumbered (BBC1), WPC Jamilla Blake in The Bill (ITV), Fortysomething (BBC), Extras (BBC) and Season 2 of the hugely popular Sky series Riviera. 

Lolita produced Of Mary, a short film directed by Adrian Lester, which won Best Short Film at PAFF, Los Angeles.


Forthcoming acting projects include the eagerly anticipated Wheel of Time on Amazon Vigil for BBC1 and she is currently filming a new series also for the BBC.

Lolita is on the board of RADA and Rambert. She lives in South East London with husband, actor Adrian Lester and their two daughters.


This Visiting Fellowship will not take place physically in Oxford due to current lockdown and government guidance. Lolita Chakrabarti will therefore be joining us remotely to offer a series of events and activities that link to other projects and work they are undertaking at this time.


Biography text used by permission – Tina Price Consultants. Visit here for further information.


Part of the Humanities Cultural Programme, one of the founding stones for the

future Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities.