Born in 1940 in Llanelli, Wales, Rudall was the son of a steelworker and the grandson of a renowned Welsh poet. Rudall likely would have followed in his father’s footsteps to become a laborer had he not won a scholarship to the elite Llandovery boarding school, where he fell in love with theatre.
Rudall earned his PhD in classical languages and literature at Cornell University and in 1966 he joined UChicago’s Department of Classics, teaching tragedy and ancient theater. An internationally known translator, his writing encompassed texts by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides as well as works by Ibsen, Büchner, Schnitzler and Feydeau. In the past year, Rudall completed a translation of Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound.
Rudall retired from teaching in 2006, but he continued to translate and write plays, launching a three-play Greek Cycle at Court Theatre. He also traveled the world with his daughter, Clare Rudall Lorring, and his three grandchildren.
Charles Newell, the Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director at Court Theatre, succeeded Rudall in 1994 and worked closely with him. “By entrusting me with Court Theatre, Nick gave me the extraordinary gift of my career as an artistic leader,” Newell said. “Court will forever be Nick’s legacy. I am honored to have been mentored by this transformative artist. He was and is my artistic father.”
In 2017, Rudall accompanied Court Theatre’s traveling production of his translation of Iphigenia at Aulis to the Getty Villa in Los Angeles. The same year, Court Theatre established the Nicholas Rudall Endowed Fund to support the continued production of classical texts and to ensure that Rudall’s artistic legacy would endure.
“On behalf of the entire Court Theatre Board of Trustees, I want to express my profound gratitude and admiration for the leadership of Founding Artistic Director Nicholas Rudall. He paved the way for a vital, prolific and thriving regional theatre,” said Timothy Bryant, Court Theatre board chairman.
On May 29, Rudall posted a final message to Facebook. “I have led an extraordinarily happy life doing the two professions I have loved most, teaching and translating classics and working in the professional theater. I thank you all for helping me enjoy this wonderful life. There are tears, of course, but I entered this last stage of my life at peace and with a kind of subdued joy. So thank you all.”