The new year always starts with a bang at The Stage with the joint announcement of The Stage 100.
I often get asked by what criteria we judge our annual power list. We agonise for long hours (days, months) over the final 100. Obviously, it’s not as (relatively) straightforward as something like the Times Rich List as we are often comparing apples with pears. We can’t simply tot up bank balances.
How do you compare, for example, the power/influence of an actor like Mark Rylance (number 20 this year) with a producer/theatre operator like Cameron Mackintosh (number four this year)? Even, how do you compare a theatre operator in the commercial sector with one in the subsidised sector.
It’s not straightforward – and there’s a lot of discussion around just such issues.
The interpretation is necessarily nebulous. We take into account some quite empirical factors like the number of people someone’s work plays to, the number of awards won, the amount of money taken at the box office, the number of theatres an individual owns or controls, and mix that with less easily quantifiable factors like artistic achievement. We consider, for example, should a box office smash count for more than an artistic triumph?
In the end, as an industry publication, we tend to lean towards the business-side of things. Power and influence tends to translate to commercial clout, so the majority of the upper echelons of The Stage 100 is taken up by the big commercial players, or, increasingly, the big subsidised players (who are operating, it should be noted, in a more and more commercial fashion).
We also focus principally on achievements within the last 12 months. So, if an actor hasn’t appeared on stage within the last year, we’ll tend to omit them in favour of someone who has.
I was flicking back through a few of the old issues of The Stage 100 – it’s now in its 17th year – and I think that, generally speaking, we’ve got things pretty much right over the years – when judged on the terms which we’ve set ourselves. And I’d stress that part – I feel that if another publication were to attempt to compile the same kind of list, it would be highly likely (and correct, in fact) that they came up with a different 100. As an industry publication, we necessarily approach The Stage 100 from a specific viewpoint – that of theatre and the performing arts as an industry.
Still, there are always people who fall between the cracks, or are overlooked. And I’m sure that this year is no different.
So, tell us, who should have been in this year’s Stage 100 who wasn’t? Or, indeed, who should have been number one instead of ATG’s Howard Panter & Rosemary Squire and the National Theatre’s Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr?