We are delighted to announce that Mark Rylance has become an Honorary Patron of The Orchard Project in 2022. A well-respected actor with a long standing interest in grassroots efforts, Mark devotes much of his time off stage to making positive change in the world.
Mark’s personal connection to our work comes through his grandfather, who dreamt and prayed for an orchard during his time in a Prisoner of War camp. When Mark was a boy, he would help his grandfather with the orchard he survived the war to enjoy.
His recent stage role as Johnny “Rooster” Byron in Jerusalem played to packed houses in the West End. Born in England in 1960, Mark emigrated with his family to America two years later, living in Connecticut and Wisconsin before returning to London in 1978. He trained at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and has his first job at The Glasgow Citizens Theatre.
In the 1980s he played for many theatres, including The RSC, where he played Hamlet, Romeo and a number of other roles. He founded his own cooperative theatre company, Phoebus Cart, and toured sacred sites such as The Rollright Stones. Throughout his career he has acted in more than 50 productions by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
Mark was the Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London for 10 years and is a trustee of The Shakespearean Authorship Trust. In 2007, he wrote his first play, I Am Shakespeare and since leaving the Globe he has primarily been interested in creating new drama, most recently, Dr Semmelweis, co-written with Stephen Brown and Tom Morris.
His film work includes three films with Steven Spielberg: Bridge of Spies, The BFG and Ready Player One, Ciro Guerra’s film Waiting for the Barbarians, Dunkirk, Trial of the Chicago 7, The Institute Benjamenta, Don’t Look Up, The Phantom of the Open and The Outfit.
Mark’s television appearances include three series with Peter Kosminsky: The Government Inspector, The Undeclared War and Wolf Hall.
He is an honourary bencher of Middle Temple Hall in London, Trustee of Intermission Youth Theatre and Patron of Survival, the International movement for Tribal Peoples. Mark is also a founding patron of the London-based charity Peace Direct, which supports peace-builders in areas of conflict. Lately his work has focused on Intermission Youth Theatre and The Wildfowl and WetlandsTrust. He will always be an active member of STOP THE WAR.
In 2017 he was knighted for services to the Theatre. We are looking forward to working with Mark over the coming year and tapping into his amazing spirit for encouraging people to take small steps that can make a real difference in the world.
Mark joins our fantastic existing honorary patron, Alys Fowler, who agreed to stay with us a little bit longer as the pandemic put somewhat of a dampener on her role after she joined us in early 2020.
An acclaimed author, broadcaster and horticulturalist based in Wales, Alys has led a fruitful career in urban permaculture – a theme which resonates deeply with our mission. You may be familiar with her weekly gardening column in the Guardian, and she has written for publications like Gardener’s World Magazine in addition to publishing several books. She is keenly interested in growing gardens that are both beautiful and productive, and empowering city-dwellers to do the same.
Raised in the Hampshire countryside, Alys was influenced by her mother, an avid gardener. She went on to study at some of the nation’s most prestigious botanical institutions: The Royal Horticultural Society, Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew) and University College London, as well as receiving a scholarship to study at New York Botanical Gardens.
Back in the UK, she worked as a journalist and was made head of the BBC garden in 2005. She went on to present the BBC series, The Edible Garden, which followed her journey growing food in her allotment. The series was released alongside a book of the same name, and she became a household name amongst UK plant-lovers.
Alys’s passion for food sovereignty, particularly in the urban context, makes her an ideal patron for The Orchard Project. She shares our ambition for training people to protect growing spaces, reconnect to food sources and increase urban biodiversity.