John Bell

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Recognised as a Living National Treasure, John Bell is a trailblazer in the development of Australian theatre, with leadership lessons to share of Shakespearian magnitude.

A trailblazer right from his very beginnings, John launched his own radical brand of Shakespeare in 1990, founding the acclaimed Bell Shakespeare Company. His productions include over 15 of Shakespeare’s greatest works, which have been played to almost 2.5 million Australians.

John is a powerful, engaging and impactful speaker who is creative, wise and a little bit magical.Commonwealth Bank
Recognised as one of the nation’s most illustrious theatre personalities, John has been hugely influential in shaping the Australia’s theatrical identity as we know it over the past 50 years. He is an award-winning actor and director, risk-taking impresario, torch-bearing educationalist, successful company.

Bell has received significant accolades for his leadership and contributions to national culture. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia and the Order of the British Empire; has an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the Universities of Sydney, New South Wales and Newcastle; and was recognised in 1997 by the National Trust of Australia as one of Australia’s Living Treasures.

John Bell AO, has shown leadership and vision. I thank John for his hard work, wisdom and determined passion.Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia

John is an unforgettable speaker. His presentations are infused with humour, surprising insights, enthralling readings and leadership lessons stemming not just from John’s incredible story of passion, entrepreneurship, trial and success but also from the minds and deeds of Shakespeare’s most notable and polarising characters.

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John Bell’s Speaking Topics

Leadership Lessons in Shakespeare

Giving voice to some of the most infamous and complex figures of our time, William Shakespeare offers rare glimpses into the most fascinating minds of history. So what can we learn from these fallible yet formidable characters?

As with Bell Shakespeare, the Australian theatre company he founded and directed for over 25 years, John Bell believes theatre allows audiences to see themselves reflected and transformed through the prism of Shakespeare’s writing.

Shakespeare provides many examples of outstanding leadership as well as those who made disastrous mistakes. In this spellbinding keynote, John draws special reference to Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony and Octavius Caesar, Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V.

Their unique lessons in leadership are explored through insightful commentary and interpreted with readings. Audiences discover surprising insights into:

  • Managing teams successfully through change
  • Opportunities (and the consequences) of different leadership styles and motivations
  • Tipping the scale towards victorious leadership, away dysfunction and tragedy
  • Recognisable qualities of great leaders
“All the world’s a stage” – As you like it

Backstage stories & entertainment

John provides your perfect after dinner solution, tailoring the following pieces to bring a remarkable element of world-class performance to any occasion.


Ever wonder what goes on behind the curtain? John shocks and entertains with his hilarious array of theatre stories, celebrity gossip, personal recollections and untold comedic disasters – all the things that make theatre live!

My Life in Shakespeare

Audiences will delight in John’s personal anecdotes and reminiscences including selected passages from Shakespeare.

My Favourite Things

John curates a personal selection of his favourite pieces of poetry and prose into a light-hearted and wonderfully entertaining experience. This can be tailored to suit the tastes of different audiences.

John Bell’s Christmas Special

Any Christmas gathering will be enriched by John’s selection of seasonal readings from the light-hearted “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss, to selections from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and a heart-warming Irish Folk tale for all ages.

Write Your Own Script. My Life in Shakespeare

Founding the Bell Shakespeare Company in 1990, Bell has learned a great deal from his many monumental experiences of failure as well as business success following the creation of two theatre companies and 25 years as artistic director. Credited for his significant contributions national culture, John has played a pivotal role in the formation of Australian theatre. He was awarded the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Cultural Leadership Award in 2003.

In this fascinating keynote, audiences are inspired to pursue their own passions and to ‘write their own script’, walking away with advice on entrepreneurship and leadership lessons from an entirely unique perspective, as well as deep insights into John’s journey from humble beginnings to now Australia’s “Living National Treasure”.

“To thine own self be true” – Hamlet

Add John Bell to my Shortlist

Yikes! Something went wrong. Try again or call us on 1300 884 485 now.


Add John Bell to my Shortlist

Yikes! Something went wrong. Try again or call us on 1300 884 485 now.

John Bell OBE, AM, AO

  Travels from:
Sydney, Australia

1300 884 485+61295183944

  Specialty Areas:
Keynote Speakers, Speakers

  Date of Birth:
01 November 1940

  Place of Birth:
Maitland NSW Australia


  • Bell Shakespeare


  • Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
  • Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)Helpmann Award (2002) – Best Male Actor in a Play
  • Australian Living Treasure

  Acting Roles:

  • The Taming of the Shrew (1973)
  • Hamlet (1974)
  • Far East (1982)

  • The Time of My Life
  • Staging Othello
  • On Shakespeare

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