The Stage 100 2013: the full list by category

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Michael Attenborough

Attenborough bids farewell to the Almeida this spring after 11 years in post, during which the Islington venue has been one of London’s most consistent sources of high quality drama. Highlights of his final full year in charge included Attenborough’s own staging of King Lear.

David Babani

The buzz about the Menier Chocolate Factory may not quite be what it was a couple of years back but the theatre is still a genuine treat. Jill Halfpenny was a delight in Abigail’s Party and 2012 ended on a real high with a revival of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, which marked Maria Friedman’s impressive directorial debut.

Mark Ball

Ball has run LIFT, formerly known as the London International Festival of Theatre, since 2009, but it was only last summer that the event really regained its former prominence. Its five-week festival played to more than 40,000 people across a variety of venues in London with shows ranging from Gatz, a word-for-word stage adaptation of the Great Gatsby, to Back to Back Theatre’s Ganesh Versus the Third Reich.

Edward Hall

Under Hall’s assured leadership, Hampstead appears to be finally finding its feet in its new (well, relatively new) home. DruidMurphy was one of the great events of the year, while the season also boasted David Hare’s The Judas Kiss and Chariots of Fire, which moved into town following its run in north London. However, it’s a shame that the theatre decided to axe its education strand following a funding cut from Camden council.

Sean Holmes

The Lyric Hammersmith’s production of Simon Stephen’s Three Kingdoms was one of the most fiercely debated productions of 2012, if not one of the best. Elsewhere, the Lyric’s annual panto has now established itself alongside Hackney and Stratford as one of London’s must-see festive events.

Kerry Michael

One of the UK’s most beautiful theatres, Stratford East’s output in 2012 has perhaps been most notable for what has taken place outside its Frank Matcham auditorium with adventurous forays into more immersive theatre experiences. In April, it picked up an Olivier for its work on the site-specific co-production (with the Barbican and Richard Jordan) of Roadkill and it followed that up with a staging of You Me, Bum Bum Train and En Route in the areas around the venue.

Toni Racklin

Racklin is responsible for programming theatre across the Barbican’s various spaces. The City of London arts centre consistently presents some of the most diverse and exciting performing arts in the UK and 2012 was no exception. The UK debut of Einstein on the Beach was a remarkable achievement, while Complicite’s The Master and the Margarita and Big and Small (Gross Und Klein) with Cate Blanchett were both superb.

Indhu Rubasingham

It’s early days but the signs are promising for Rubasingham, who has succeeded Nicolas Kent at the Tricycle. After 28 years at the helm, Kent was always going to be a hard act to follow, but she has started in style with her own staging of Red Velvet, starring Adrian Lester. If it’s an indicator of what’s to come, the future should be bright in Kilburn.

Kevin Spacey/Sally Greene

The Old Vic narrowly slips out of the top 20 this year – perhaps it’s not been a vintage year but there’s been much to savour with Sheridan Smith superb in  Hedda Gabler and two excellent revivals of Michael Frayn classics with Noises Off (both at the Old Vic and in the West End) and Democracy (transferring from Sheffield). The coming  year looks mouthwatering.



Gemma Bodinetz

Under artistic director Bodinetz and executive director Deborah Aydon, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse has established itself as one of UK theatre’s best run venues, engaged with its local community while also producing work of national and international standard. A co-producer of The Ladykillers – both on tour and in the West End – its production of The Caretaker starring Jonathan Pryce has made the trip to Australia, while Janet Suzman’s Anthony and Cleopatra made the shorter journey to Chichester. Highlights at home included a revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests.

James Brining

It’s early days in Brining’s tenure at West Yorkshire Playhouse, but the signs look promising. He did a great job at Dundee Rep, and the Leeds-born director has promised to create “world-class local work” at the venue. WYP is one of the UK’s foremost regional producing houses and it hasn’t always been at the top of its game in recent years. We await developments with interest. Ian Brown’s final production as artistic director – an all-black production of Waiting for Godot – was an impressive farewell.

Vicky Featherstone

As founding artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, Featherstone pioneered the ‘without walls’ model. This year, she’ll get to run her first building at the Royal Court, where she will become the Sloane Square venue’s first female artistic director. One suspects it won’t be long before she returns to the top 20 – she leaves the NTS in great shape, with highlights of the year just gone including Enquirer and Glasgow Girls.

James Grieve/George Perrin

This pair have been in charge of Paines Plough since 2010 and have really put the touring company back on the map. Its 2012 programme saw 11 productions touring to 44 towns and cities across the UK and internationally. Its audacious project to create a portable in-the-round auditorium has seen the company take its Roundabout season of work to Sheffield Theatres and to Shoreditch Town Hall –      Duncan MacMillan’s Lungs was a particular revelation. At a time when there is less high-quality touring drama, Paines Plough is a crucial component of the theatrical ecosystem.

Dominic Hill

Since moving to Glasgow Citizens from the Edinburgh Traverse, Hill has offered audiences the chance to watch shows for as little as 50p, with shows ranging from his own superb production of Pinter’s Betrayal – his first as artistic director of the Citizens – to King Lear and Cora Bisset’s musical Glasgow Girls.

Paul Kerryson

The Curve, as a theatre building, is always going to have its problems, but the programme seems to be starting to really find its feet, with artistic director Kerryson and chief executive Fiona Allen establishing the venue as a major producerof musical theatre, with highlights including Gypsy with Caroline O’Connor and Hello, Dolly! with Janie Dee. Audiences seem to be responding, as well, with attendances up 8%in 2011/12.

John McGrath

National Theatre Wales went from strength to strength in its second year. The non building-based national theatre has specialised in taking its work out to, and engaging with, the people of Wales. Perhaps the highlight of the year, though, told a truly international story – its production of The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning was a timely entry into the political debate around the US soldier accused of releasing 250,000 secret embassy cables and military logs from the Iraq and Afghan wars. Notably, NTW streamed the show online to a global audience.

Dannny Moar/Laurence Boswell

Bath’s Theatre Royal is a beauty of a regional theatre, very ably run by Danny Moar, while Laurence Boswell is producing some daring work in the theatre’s second space, the Ustinov Studio. Moar’s Theatre Royal Bath Productions is also a major commercial producer – both in the West End and on tour – and has had a hand in shows including Relatively Speaking, Judas Kiss and Abigail’s Party.

Tom Morris

It’s hard to recall now just what an awful state the Bristol Old Vic was in when Tom Morris and Emma Stenning took over the running of it back in 2009. The venue’s historic main auditorium has now reopened post-refurbishment, and the programme is firing on all cylinders – all very much shipshape and Bristol fashion. This year there’s also the exciting prospect of Morris reuniting with Handspring Puppet Company (his collaborators on War Horse) for a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Laurie Sansom

In 2011, Northampton’s Royal and Derngate was recognised with the inaugural Stage 100 Award for regional theatre of the year. Sansom’s tenure has continued to impress – so much so that he’s landed the plum job of succeeding Vicky Featherstone as artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland. Productions in 2012 included a revival of God of Carnage and Sansom’s own excellent production of Hedda Gabler.

Rachel Tackley

A modernising president of the Theatrical Management Association and director of English Touring Theatre, Tackley is living proof that directors of theatre companies don’t actually need to be, well, directors. English Touring’s production of Shakespeare’s Globe’s Anne Boleyn was recognised at the Theatre Awards UK, while its revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing was another notable success.

David Thacker

Bolton Octagon has been performing at an exceptionally high level for some time under Thacker’s leadership. The director himself oversaw productions of Alfie and The Winslow Boy, while the season also featured a revival of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. An exceptionally well run theatre.

Erica Whyman

Whyman will be leaving Northern Stage this year to join Gregory Doran at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the newly created role of deputy artistic director. She will leave behind an excellently managed venue and a beacon of artistic excellence in Newcastle. Last summer, Northern Stage ran its own venue at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, while back at its Newcastle head-quarters, productions included a revival of Close the Coalhouse Door and Whyman’s farewell Christmas staging of The Borrowers.



Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood

The two Underbelly boys have long been key moovers (ahem) and shakers on the Edinburgh fringe, but the emergence of their London summer season on the South Bank has turned them into major players. The season expanded in 2012 with the addition of the London Wonderground. With plans to expand internationally, expect their influence to grow in coming years.

Judy Craymer

Mamma Mia! extended its West End run with a house move to the Novello Theatre and continues to play across the world. Craymer’s follow up, Viva Forever! (she’s fond of an exclamation mark) opened in December to some savage reviews. It seems unlikely to repeat Mamma Mia!’s success, but it would be foolish to write it off just yet. After all, stranger things have happened (see We Will Rock You).

Robert Delamere and Tom Shaw

Launched in 2009, Digital Theatre has now grown to become a major resource, offering filmed theatre productions from across the subsidised and commercial theatre sectors to download and watch. As well as creating its own content, working with theatres such as the Royal Court and Young Vic, it will now also serve as a distributor for existing theatre video content. While it will never (we hope) replace the live experience, it is an exciting new distribution channel.

Mark Goucher

Goucher has long been a key supplier of popular product on the touring circuit with titles like the Vagina Monologues and Yes, Prime Minister. Slava’s Snow Show is a regular seasonal hit, while he is also bringing an overdue revival of A Chorus Line to the Palladium this year.

Michael Harrison

Michael Harrison’s standing within the industry grows with every passing year and in 2012, he’s had two major breakthroughs. The first was with the tour of I Dreamed a Dream, the Susan Boyle Musical, which looks set to be a huge commercial hit. The second is The Bodyguard musical, Harrison’s first foray into the West End. He’s also a major player come Christmas-time as MD of the Qdos panto division.

Richard Jordan

A co-producer on Roadkill, which picked up an Olivier early in the year, Richard Jordan has enjoyed a busy 2012 with productions in London, Edinburgh, on UK tour, in Australia, South Africa, the US and Canada. Highlights have included Dickens’ Women with Miriam Margolyes, Othello: the Remix and Ontroerend Goed’s latest Audience. Quite a range.

Michael McCabe

Former marketing man turned producer, who has been the driving force behind Wicked’s success in the West End. The green goliath continues to go gangbusters at the Apollo Victoria and will look to lay a yellow brick road around the regions when it launches its first UK tour in September.

Caro Newling

Caro Newling heads up the theatre department at Sam Mendes’ Neal Street Productions and has been producer on projects including the Bridge Project and Shrek. Neal Street also served as co-producer on the West End transfer of South Downs/The Browning Version and, this year, it will be bringing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Drury Lane, after Shrek closes, hoping that is proves more of a golden ticket.

Kim Poster

Kim Poster’s Stanhope Productions has established itself as a leading producer of quality drama in the West End. Long Day’s Journey into Night, with David Suchet and Laurie Metcalfe, was sublime, and while Uncle Vanya wasn’t quite in the same league, it still proved a high-class traditional staging.

Andre Ptaszynski

Since part-parting company with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, Andre Ptaszynski has played an instrumental role – as executive producer – in the phenomenal success of Royal Shakespeare’s Matilda the Musical in the West End. Plans for a stage version of Bridget Jones’ Diary appear to have been put on hold, but expect more from him soon.

Rebecca Quigley

It had long been thought that Stage Entertainment would make its mark on the West End as a theatre owner. In fact, the Dutch-based company has really started making waves on the production front. Singin’ in the Rain is doing excellent business in the West End, but the company is also a major player on the touring circuit with Hairspray, Ice Age and Sister Act all on the road during 2012. Rebecca Quigley is producer and managing director of Stage’s UK operation.

Nick Salmon, Nia Janis and Matthew Byam Shaw

Playful Productions has grown into one of the West End’s biggest producers and general managers. Its 2012 slate included The King’s Speech, Sweeney Todd, Hay Fever and Yes, Prime Minister and its forthcoming production of The Audience, starring Helen Mirren, looks a nailed-on hit.

Thomas Schumacher

Disney Theatricals has been a long-term resident in the West End thanks to The Lion King’s roaring success at the Lyceum, but now Simba has taken his pride out on the road to tour the UK for the first time and it has proved a major money spinner

James Seabright

James Seabright has been one of the most prolific commercial producers at the Edinburgh fringe for some time, but his presence in the West End has also grown. Our Boys at the Duchess Theatre was the highest profile of his 2012 productions, but he also had Showstoppers out on tour and Potted Potter is trotting round the globe.

Edward Snape

Edward Snape’s Fiery Angel has been busy this year with The 39 Steps plodding along at the Criterion and Peppa Pig playing matinees at the same venue. Over at the Phoenix, Goodnight Mister Tom became the first production into the venue post-Blood Brothers. And, outside London, The Ladykillers continues to tour and is soon to be joined on the road by The 39 Steps.

John Stalker

Music & Lyrics is a production company formed by a consortium of the UK’s leading producing venues dedicated to producing musical theatre. Led by John Stalker, its first offering was the hugely successful tour of the King and I, to be followed up by a revival of High Society. Music & Lyrics was recognised with the The Renee Stepham award for best presentation of touring theatre at the Theatre Awards UK.

Stephen Waley Cohen

One of Theatreland’s most affable figures, Stephen Waley Cohen is both a theatre owner (Victoria Palace, the St Martin’s and Ambassadors theatres) and a producer. He’s back on the list thanks to the Mousetrap, which embarked on its 60th anniversary tour and has been breaking records at theatres across the UK.

Kenny Wax

Many feared that Top Hat would struggle in the West End but it has stayed the course and helped establish Kenny Wax in the top rung of producers. Meanwhile, he’s also co-producing Wonderful Town on tour and continues as a major presenter of children’s shows such as the Gruffalo and The Tiger Who Came to Tea.



Benedict Andrews

The sometime controversial Australian theatre director has been busy in the UK with productions of Caligula for English National Opera, Big and Small (Gross und Klein) starring Cate Blanchett at the Barbican and a remarkable re-imagining of the Three Sisters at the Young Vic. He may not be to everyone’s taste, but Andrews is one of world theatre’s unique voices.

Carrie Cracknell

After moving on from her role as artistic director of the Gate in Notting Hill, Cracknell has been another director to display her talent at the Young Vic, with an excellent production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House at the London venue. Early this year, she’ll be turning her hand to opera, as she steps in for Rupert Goold after he pulled out of directing Wozzeck
for ENO.

Howard Davies

The National Theatre’s secret weapon, associate Howard Davies’ name on a poster tends to be a sure-fire stamp of quality. As well as Last of the Haussmans at the NT, Davies directed Hay Fever starring Lindsay Duncan in the West End and Howard Brenton’s 55 Days at the Hampstead Theatre.

Marianne Elliott

The go-to director for animal-related commercial hits. Following on from the global hit War Horse (which she co-directed with Tom Morris), Elliott’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is set to follow its NT stablemate into the West End this year. Maybe after she directs Simon Stephen’s Port at the National, she might like to offer her services to Andrew Lloyd Webber for his forthcoming tour of Cats?

Rupert Goold

In the end, he didn’t go for the Royal Shakespeare Company artistic directorship, but one wouldn’t be surprised to find him running a national company at some point during his career. In the meantime, he’s doing a fine job at the helm of touring company Headlong, while pursuing a busy freelance career. Highlights in 2012 have included Lucy Prebble’s The Effect at the NT and his TV production of Richard II for the BBC’s Hollow Crown season.

Bradley Hemming/Jenny Sealey

Theatre has long been aware of the abundant talents of Hemming and Sealey – Hemming as artistic director of the Greenwich and Docklands Festival and Sealey as head of the UK’s foremost disabled-led theatre company, Graeae. During 2012 they brought both their own skills and the disabled arts to mainstream attention with their inspirational opening ceremony for the London Paralympics.

Jeremy Herrin

Perhaps 2012’s busiest director, Herrin is deputy artistic director at the Royal Court where he recently presented Hero and will this year stage Polly Stenham’s No Quarter. But he’s also staged work in the West End (Absent Friends and South Downs), at the Almeida (Children’s Children), Chichester (Uncle Vanya) and the National, where his production of James Graham’s This House was one of the highlights of the year.

Garry Hynes

One of the great directors of Irish theatre, Garry Hynes showed off her talents on this side of the Irish Sea in 2012, when she brought her production of DruidMurphy to the Hampstead Theatre. Druid Theatre’s production of Tom Murphy’s trilogy of plays about Irish emigration was one of the theatre events of the year and Hynes deservedly picked up the best director award at Theatre Awards UK for her work on the project.

Katie Mitchell

She might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying that Katie Mitchell is one of UK theatre’s bravest directors. Last year was a busy one for her and ranged from having two of her work staged at the Avignon Festival, one of which (Ten Billion) also ran at the Royal Court, to her regular children’s outing at the National Theatre with Hansel and Gretel.

Trevor Nunn

Inducted into Broadway Theatre Hall of Fame in 2012, Trevor Nunn is one of the giants of modern British theatre. Following a year as resident artistic director of the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2011, he was busy again last year, directing a classic musical (Kiss Me Kate at Chichester and the Old Vic), a rarely performed Beckett (All That Fall at the Jermyn Street), and an Ayckbourn revival (A Chorus of Disapproval in the West End).

Thea Sharrock

Thea Sharrock has built up a reputation as one of the leading directors when it comes to commercial drama in the West End, with star-led productions of Equus and The Misanthrope already under her belt. This year, she gave us another such production – The Sunshine Boys with Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths – but also her first foray into commercial musicals with a very solid staging of The Bodyguard.



Miriam Buether 

Your go-to designer for something extravagant, Miriam Buether converted the Hampstead Theatre and then the Gielgud into running tracks for Chariots of Fire and transported Young Vic audiences to China for Wild Swans.

Bunny Christie

This two-time Olivier winner provided design for shows ranging from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the National to the Donmar’s all-female Julius Caesar, set in a prison. Her designs always  perfectly serve the director’s vision.

Paule Constable

The leading light in lighting design, Paule Constable seems to be able to turn her hand to anything from opera (Dr Dee at the Coliseum, Rigoletto at the Royal Opera) to musicals (Privates on Parade) or plays (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). Her work is always exemplary.

Michael Taylor

The Ladykillers’ set, designed by Michael Taylor, was so impressive that audiences in the West End would regularly give it its own round of applause. Now, it’s repeating the trick (perhaps even more impressively) on tour around the UK. An amazing achievement.


Opera and Dance

John Berry/Edward Gardner

English National Opera goes from strength to strength, with artistic director Berry and music director Gardner doing a fine job leading this adventurous company. Calixto Bieito’s production of Carmen, Damon Albarn’s new opera Dr Dee and Rufus Norris’ Don Giovanni were among many high points.

Matthew Bourne

In 2012, Bourne celebrated the 25th anniversary of his company New Adventures. It has been at the forefront of popularising dance theatre around the UK, and Bourne is still the only figure in the dance world to have fully crossed over into the commercial sphere. He celebrated the anniversary with his latest new production, Sleeping Beauty, which has been wowing audiences on tour and at Sadler’s Wells.

Akram Kahn

Kahn performed an awards double during 2012, picking up best modern choreography for Vertical Road at the National Dance Awards and best new dance production for DESH at the Oliviers. He showed off his own dancing prowess to the wider world with a scene-stealing performance at the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Tamara Rojo

Former Royal Ballet prima ballerina Rojo was appointed artistic director and principal dance at English National Ballet early on in 2012. She has been forthright in her opinions and a real breath of fresh air at the company with her vow to stage more challenging work. Good news, too, that she will not be hanging up her dancing shoes.

Alistair Spalding

Sadler’s Wells is the UK’s foremost dance house, presenting a beautifully balanced programme of commercial and more adventurous work. Spalding has proved an extremely adept artistic director and chief executive, with the 2012 programme encompassing Matthew Bourne, a co-production between Javier de Frutos and the Pet Shop Boys, and international work from the likes of Danza Contemporanea de Cuba and Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.



Eileen Atkins

One of theatre’s treasured dames, Atkins is always worth seeing. Taking a break from the glamour of Upstairs Downstairs to slum it on the fringe, she has been starring alongside Michael Gambon in a rare staging of Samuel Beckett’s radio play All That Fall at the Jermyn Street.

Michael Ball

A larger-than-life personality and one of musical theatre’s best-loved figures, Ball has been busy playing against type and letting his sinister side shine alongside Imelda Staunton in Sweeney Todd. He has been a revelation in the role, and also impressed – again alongside Staunton – as host of the Olivier Awards.

Simon Russell Beale

An ever-present in The Stage 100 for the last few years, Beale is one of the most exceptional and versatile actors. Currently camping it up in various dresses – and various stages of undress  – in Privates on Parade, he started the year playing Stalin in Collaborators, before graduating to Timon of Athens.

Cate Blanchett

A global superstar thanks to her glittering film career, Blanchett is also very much a lady of the theatre. She may be stepping down from her position as co-artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company, but she continues to tread the boards, and during 2012 she performed at the Barbican Centre in Gross und Klein (Big and Small). She was terrific.

Janie Dee

Busy as a bee, Dee barely had time to draw breath during 2012.  She started the year rushing about in Michael Frayn farce Noises Off before starring in Lucy Kirkwood’s new play NSFW at the Royal Court, capping it all off in the titular role of Hello, Dolly! at the Leicester Curve. Somewhere in between, she even managed to fit in a trip to Latitude to perform in a celebration of Harold Pinter.

Tamsin Greig

While Greig might have made her name on TV, since winning an Olivier in 2007 she has firmly established herself as one of the finest comic actresses on stage as well. Her performance in Jumpy by April de Angelis, which transferred to the West End, was hilarious, and she is proving herself a genuine box office draw.

Adrian Lester

It’s always a pleasure to see Lester onstage, and he returned in 2012 to play Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet, written by his wife Lolita Chakrabarti (see opposite) at the Tricycle. It was a fabulous turn, and rather whets the appetite for when Lester plays Othello at the National later this year.

Hattie Morahan

Morahan has been putting in some fine performances onstage over the last few years – Plenty in Sheffield, The Real Thing at the Old Vic – but last year she really took a step up with her portrayal of Nora in the Young Vic’s staging of A Doll’s House. Morahan was deservedly recognised with the London Evening Standard award for best actress.

Eddie Redmayne

Redmayne followed up his 2010 Olivier win for Red by picking up the Critics’ Circle best Shakespearean performance award earlier this year for his Richard II at the Donmar Warehouse, the final production of Michael Grandage’s tenure there. He also appears as Marius in the film of Les Miserables. Let’s hope he isn’t lost to the big screen.

Sheridan Smith

Having burst onto the theatre scene as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Smith has spent the last few years forging a path in serious drama. This led her to take on the role of Hedda Gabler – it doesn’t get more serious than that – at the Old Vic. She was superb, a bona fide theatre star.

Imelda Staunton

A real treat as Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Staunton picked up the best performance in a musical award at the Theatre Awards UK. She’s lined up to play Mama Rose in Gypsy at Chichester Festival Theatre – where Sweeney started its life – this year, and we wouldn’t bet against lightning striking twice.

Luke Treadaway

The older of the two Treadaway twins, Luke has been an absolute revelation in the National’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, and will reprise the role of Christopher Boone, the young boy with autism at the centre of the story, when the show transfers to the West End this year.

Dominic West

Known to millions as Jimmy McNulty from TV’s The Wire, West has spent the last couple of years returning to his theatrical roots. He took two contrasting roles in 2012 – first as the mysterious, fishing-obsessed man in Jez Butterworth’s The River, and now as Professor Higgins in Sheffield’s My Fair Lady revival.


Writers and composers

Alan Ayckbourn
As theatre’s chronicler of the middle classes, Ayckbourn seems to be very much in vogue again. Last year, Absent Friends and A Chorus of Disapproval were staged in the West End, while Theatre Royal Bath’s production of Relatively Speaking will follow them into town this year. Meanwhile, Liverpool has revived The Norman Conquests and Ayckbourn’s newest play, Surprises (his 76th), premiered in Scarborough.

Lolita Chakrabarti
Perhaps better known as an actress, Chakrabarti made her mark as a playwright in 2012 with her debut play Red Velvet, at the Tricycle, London. It starred her husband Adrian Lester (see opposite), and told the story of  19th-century black stage actor Ira Aldridge. Chakrabarti picked up the Charles Wintour award for most promising playwright at the London Evening Standard Awards.

Caryl Churchill

A new Churchill play is always an event, and so it proved with Love and Information at London’s Royal Court, an incredible mosaic of stories performed by the cast of 16 and featuring 57 scenes. Still at the top of her game, and one of our most audacious and formally inventive playwrights.

James Graham

Graham has already taken on politics once, with his 2007 play Little Madam at the Finborough, dealing with Margaret Thatcher’s childhood. This time, he revisits the pre-Thatcher era with a vivid and entertaining depiction of parliament in the late 1970s, for which the National Theatre’s Cottesloe space was transformed into the House of Commons chamber.

Nick Payne

While he received plaudits for his 2009 play If There is I Haven’t Found it Yet and Wanderlust in 2010, it was last year with Constellations that Payne really hit the big time. The show wowed critics at the Royal Court before transferring to the West End and picking up the London Evening Standard best new play award. Expect it to be in the running at the Oliviers as well, while one also wouldn’t be surprised to see a Broadway transfer.

Lucy Prebble

Enron was such a huge success for Prebble that there were, naturally, question marks as to how she would manage to follow it. The answer, it seems, was to reunite with its director Rupert Goold to produce a play about love and neuroscience. The Effect, staged at the National’s Cottesloe, has been one of the top new plays of the year and confirmed Prebble as a genuine talent.

Simon Stephens

One of British theatre’s most prolific writers – and one of its most European in style – no fewer than five of Stephens’ plays received their British premieres last year. The highlight was probably his adaptation of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, but Three Kingdoms also had its fans. His adaptation of A Doll’s House, The Trial of Ubu and Morning complete the quintet.