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The Stage 100 2016 (100-81)

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100 Danny Lee Wynter

Danny Lee Wynter

Actor and activist
As the founder of diversity campaign group Act for Change, Lee Wynter is fighting a massive battle to see improved representation for minorities on stage and off stage, on screen and off screen. Headlines were made in June last year when he compered a major debate on the National Theatre’s Olivier stage, which saw Rufus Norris directly challenged on the lack of BAME workers at the National and the absence of disabled actors on the NT’s stages. Somehow, Lee Wynter also found time to act, leading the cast of Nuffield’s A Glass Menagerie in October. New entry

99 Kate McGrath and Louise Blackwell

Kate McGrath and Louise Blackwell. Photo: Sheila Burnett

Theatre Fresh from celebrating the producing company’s 10th anniversary in 2014, co-directors McGrath and Blackwell cracked on with catalysing and presenting an astonishing line-up of small-scale theatre with big goals. Highlights included I Am Not Myself These Days, The Spalding Suite and The Red Chair. Its dedication to new work has paid dividends: research over the past two years revealed three quarters of its audiences felt excited about seeing more new work. New entry

98 Jess Thom

Jess Thom. Photo: James Lyndsay
Jess Thom. Photo: James Lyndsay

Campaigner and performer Thom is one of the co-founders of Touretteshero, a company set up to address misconceptions about and celebrate the creative potential of Tourette syndrome. Her work has a heavy focus on inclusivity within the arts and relaxed performance, while her first stage show, Backstage in Biscuit Land, a highlight of the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe which subsequently toured, was one of four pieces curated by Battersea Arts Centre and broadcast live on BBC4 in November as part of Live from Television Centre. New entry

97 Rachel O’Riordan

Rachel O’Riordan. Photo: Eliza Power

Sherman Cymru
Less than a month after O’Riordan began working as Sherman Cymru’s new artistic director in 2014, the local council announced it would cut the entirety of its annual £160,000 subsidy to the organisation as part of wide-scale arts cuts. Despite decreased funding, she has led the venue from strength to strength, including the premiere of Iphigenia in Splott: a new play by Gary Owen that took the Edinburgh Fringe by storm, won best new play at the UK Theatre Awards and, this month, will transfer to the National Theatre. New entry

96 Tom Scutt

Tom Scutt. Photo: Paul Stead

The continuing success of his two most recognisable set designs were enough to ensure Scutt a place on our list. Constellations, with its deceptively simple scatter of glowing balloons, toured the UK in the summer before a second West End run, while the crumbling regality of his King Charles III set will remain on the Broadway stage until January 31 and toured the UK last year. Add to that his work on Nuffield’s recent production of A Number and you have some understanding of why Scutt is now a Linbury Prize judge – only eight years after winning it himself. New entry

Interview with Tom Scutt

95 Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt

Suzanne Andrade
Paul Barritt

Acclaimed for mixing high-concept theatre with dazzling interactive video designs, 1927 got 2015 off to a jet-propelled start with its look at our dependence on modern technology, Golem. Although the play opened at the Young Vic, London, at the back end of 2014, it took flight in 2015 with a five-week, highly acclaimed transfer for the Trafalgar Studios sandwiched between runs in Taipei and Paris. 1927 will take The Magic Flute to Europe and the US this year. New entry

94 Rachel Edwards

Rachel Edwards.Photo: Anthony Ofoegbu

Tooting Arts Club
This time last year, Tooting Arts Club producer Rachel Edwards was a relative unknown in the theatre world, even though she had just steered a site-specific Sweeney Todd in a Tooting pie and mash shop to rave reviews. But she made her mark on the West End in a big way in March, when her production transferred to a derelict space in the West End and completely sold out. Another site-specific production, Barbarians, followed in September in the old Central St Martins building on Charing Cross Road, a new theatre space which Edwards (in partnership with Emily Dobbs) has dubbed Found 111. It is now hosting The Dazzle. New entry

Interview with Rachel Edwards

93 Entertainment unions

Equity's Christine Payne
Equity’s Christine Payne

Equity, BECTU, MU and SDUK
While not technically a union, the formation of an industry body to represent directors marked a major step forward for their rights and pay. As well as revealing how bad the pay situation is, Stage Directors UK demanded significant pay rises and better royalties for directors in 2015, and was outspoken about reputation protection and diversity. BECTU also caused a stir this year, winning a series of deals for backstage workers and refusing to back down over improved pay for Shakespeare’s Globe tour guides – leading to the first strike at a London theatre in more than 30 years. Equity’s low pay/no pay campaign continued unabated. Last year: 72

92 Paul Miller

Paul Miller.Photo: Richard Davenport

Orange Tree Theatre
Praised in 2014 for turning a 100% cut in Arts Council England funding into one of the Orange Tree Theatre’s best received seasons in recent memory, Miller managed to continue his streak of canny programming into 2015 – even though the year saw the theatre’s leftover arts council funding finally run dry. A well-received revival of Terrence Rattigan’s French Without Tears is set to tour the UK this year, while Alistair McDowall’s hit play Pomona had a second run in London at the National Theatre before travelling to Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre.
Last year: 100

Interview with Paul Miller

91 Madani Younis

Madani Younis. Photo: Stephanie Methven

Bush Theatre
As artistic director of the Bush Theatre in west London, Younis continues to be a crucial champion of new writing in the capital’s theatre scene since his appointment in 2012. In addition to hosting premieres of Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s The Invisible and Marco Ramirez’s The Royale, his venue throws open its submission process every year for new writing. The Bush Theatre also provides a stage in the capital for new work from across the UK, and in 2015 hosted visiting shows including Paines Plough’s The Angry Brigade. Bristol Old Vic’s Pink Mist opens this month. Last year: 40

90 Lyndsey Turner

Turner direct the biggest production of the year in the Hamlet she created for the Barbican, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. But this juggernaut of a show was just one of the several landmark productions she has overseen in the last 12 months. She directed Laura Wade’s stage adaptation of Tipping the Velvet, one of the first in the Lyric Hammersmith’s revamped venue, as well as taking on the first show of Rufus Norris’ tenure at the National Theatre, a revival of Caryl Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire. New entry

89 James Dacre and Martin Sutherland

James Dacre. Photo: Christine Allum
James Dacre. Photo: Christine Allum
Martin Sutherland. Photo: Adele Curtis

Northampton Theatres
The Royal and Derngate has had a strong year under Dacre and Sutherland, who are approaching their third year at the Northampton venue. It has produced or co-produced some of the best work outside London, and has collaborated with theatres and companies around the country. With Shakespeare’s Globe, it created a new production of Shakespeare’s King John in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Other highlights included Brave New World and The Snow Queen. Last year: 92

88 Deborah Pearson, Andy Field and Ira Brand

Deborah Pearson. Photo: Jemima Yong
Andy Field. Photo: Jemima Yong
Ira Brand. Photo: Jemima Yong

Forest Fringe
Co-directed by Pearson, Field and Brand, Forest Fringe is approaching its 10th year of creating risky and experimental work in Edinburgh, alongside the fringe. An antidote to the increasingly corporate festival – shows are free – its work this year demonstrated an eclectic mix from some of the best contemporary artists and companies. This trio has created a place of thoughtfulness, reflection and revolution on the fringe. New entry

87 Danny Moar and Laurence Boswell

Danny Moar
Laurence Boswell

Theatre Royal Bath, Ustinov Studio
It was another strong year for the duo behind Theatre Royal Bath and the Ustinov Studio, which churn out some of the most consistently good regional theatre in the country, much of which is given a longer life. Its production of Florian Zeller’s The Father transferred to the West End to much acclaim, while The Mother – also by Zeller – will run at the Tricycle Theatre later this month. Theatre Royal Bath has also demonstrated its commitment to new musicals, with Mrs Henderson Presents, which premiered at the venue in 2015, poised to hit West End audiences. Last year: 67

86 Chris Goode

Chris Goode. Photo: Alex Brenner

Men in the Cities, Chris Goode’s storming solo show, was one of the highlights of the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014, where he won The Stage’s special award. It transferred to the Royal Court, London, in 2015 and then toured. His verbatim piece, Stand, played Battersea Arts Centre, his experimental ensemble Ponyboy Curtis created work at the Yard, and his show Weaklings premiered at Warwick Arts Centre as part of Fierce. His polemical essay, The Forest and the Field, was also recently published by Oberon Books. His work establishes him as one of the most interesting and surprising theatremakers in the British theatre industry. New entry

Interview with Chris Goode (2014)

85 Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood

Ed Bartlam. Photo: David Jensen
Charlie Wood. Photo: David Jensen

Bartlam and Wood have established themselves as the leading commercial operators at the Edinburgh Fringe, but also continue to take their work further afield. The Udderbelly’s ever-growing programme of work in Edinburgh has reinforced its stronghold over the fringe, and its relocation to George Square in 2015 only served to make its Edinburgh home even more of a focal point. Meanwhile, the pair’s iconic purple cow now also grazes on London’s South Bank every summer, and they are also planning an Eastern bovine adventure, with a four-month residency in Hong Kong. New entry

84 Howard Goodall

Howard Goodall
Howard Goodall

Until now, Goodall has skirted the edge of mainstream success with his musical theatre writing, the most notable of which, Love Story, ran at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2010. In 2015, though, the composer succeeded in creating one of the most distinctive new musicals of recent times – an adaptation of Gurinder Chadha’s 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham. Goodall has scored a critical hit with this refreshing take on the musical theatre genre, and the show continues to attract some of the most diverse audiences in the West End to the Phoenix Theatre. New entry

83 Denise Gough

Denise Gough. Photo: Johan Persson

A career-changing performance at the National Theatre has earned Gough the recognition she deserves. After several consistently strong performances in smaller roles, her realisation of Duncan Macmillan’s central character in the extraordinary People, Places and Things has propelled Gough into the wider consciousness. So good was her performance that she will reprise it when the play transfers to the West End later this year. She has used her success as a platform to be an outspoken advocate for more, and better, roles for women in theatre. New entry

82 Michael Billington and Lyn Gardner

Michael Billington. Photo: Daniel Farmer
Lyn Gardner. Photo: Nosy Crow

Two of the most consistently respected critics in the business, The Guardian’s reviewing duo often inhabit different spheres of the industry, but both bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to their posts. There is much to be said for Billington’s continued work as the UK’s longest-serving critic, while few have done more for championing emerging artists than Gardner, whose reviews remain the most highly sought-after at the Edinburgh Fringe. Last year: 83

Interview with Michael Billington

81 Drew McOnie

Drew McOnie. Photo: Pamela Raith
Drew McOnie. Photo: Pamela Raith

McOnie was one of 2015’s most prolific and artistically successful choreographers, with a hugely impressive variety of work both in London and around the UK. In the Heights, Bugsy Malone, Oklahoma!, Hairspray and The Lorax have all received critical acclaim, making McOnie one of the most exciting choreographers in British theatre. His own dance company, the McOnie Company, is also establishing a brand for his work and a new dance theatre production of Jekyll and Hyde will run at the Old Vic, London, this May. New entry

100-81 80-61 60-41 40-21 20-11 10-6 5-1

How we chose The Stage 100

We introduced a slightly different methodology for deciding the final 100 this year. It included three stages.

Stage one
We invited 50 leading figures from the theatre and performing arts industry to submit anonymously the five people they would place from numbers one to five in the list, plus one other name they believed should feature in the list and why. The 50 people were drawn from different areas of the industry and a variety of professions within it.

Stage two
We invited senior editorial contributors to The Stage to submit their suggestions for the final list.

Stage three
A final judging panel (comprising print editor Alistair Smith, online editor Paddy Smith, news editor Matthew Hemley, associate editor Mark Shenton and reviews editor Natasha Tripney) considered all the names submitted in stages one and two, added their own submissions and decided on the final list.

The Stage 100 is intended to reflect the 100 most influential people working in the theatre and performing arts industry. It is considered from the point of view of The Stage as a trade publication and so focuses on theatre both as a business and an art form. Inclusion within the list and ranking is weighted towards achievements in the past 12 months, but also takes into account continuous achievement. We also aim to have a list that – as much as is possible and plausible – reflects the astonishing breadth of the theatre industry. However, we do not weight the list in an attempt to make it gender-balanced or ethnically diverse: we believe the list should aim to reflect the way the theatre and performing arts industry is, not what it aims to be, or what we would like it to be.


The Stage 100 in full

2015 entry in parentheses

Numbers 100 to 81

100. Danny Lee Wynter (new)
99. Kate McGrath and Louise Blackwood (new)
98. Jess Thom (new)
97. Rachel O’Riordan (new)
96. Tom Scutt (new)
95. Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt (new)
94. Rachel Edwards (new)
93. Equity, BECTU, MU and SDUK (72)
92. Paul Miller (100)
91. Madani Younis (40)
90. Lyndsey Turner (new)
89. James Dacre and Martin Sutherland (92)
88. Deborah Pearson, Andy Field and Ira Brand (new)
87. Danny Moar and Laurence Boswell (67)
86. Chris Goode (new)
85. Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood (new)
84. Howard Goodall (new)
83. Denise Gough (new)
82. Michael Billington and Lyn Gardner (83)
81. Drew McOnie (new)

Numbers 80 to 61

80. Janie Dee (new)
79. Christopher Haydon (new)
78. James Graham (95)
77. Noma Dumezweni (new)
76. Marianne Elliott (79)
75. Hofesh Shecter (new)
74. James Brining and Robin Hawkes (new)
73. Jonathan Kent (new)
72. Jeremy Herrin and Henny Finch (66)
71. David Hare (44)
70. Beverley Knight (new)
69. Tamara Rojo (new)
68. Edward Hall and Greg Ripley-Duggan (34)
67. Sean Holmes (90)
66. John Stalker (new)
65. Mark Goucher (41)
64. Mike Bartlett (74)
63. Tristan Baker (new)
62. Nikolai Foster and Chris Stafford (new)
61. Simon Russell Beale (38)

Numbers 60 to 41

60. Simon Stephens (88)
59. Edward Snape (78)
58. Martin McDonagh (new)
57. Simon McBurney (new)
56. David Greig (new)
55. Fergus Linehan (new)
54. Alex Beard (43)
53. Caryl Churchill (new)
52. James Grieve and George Perrin (30)
51. Maxine Peake (new)
50. Richard Eyre (new)
49. Jenny Sealey (new)
48. Michael McCabe (42)
47. Purni Morrell (48)
46. Vicky Featherstone (63)
45. Julian Bird (37)
44. Rachel Tackley (53)
43. Thomas Schumacher (68)
42. Matthew Bourne (75)
41. Adam Kenwright (84)

Numbers 40 to 21

40. Laurie Sansom (26)
39. John E McGrath (26)
38. Indhu Rubasingham (56)
37. Kenny Wax (71)
36. Robert Icke (96)
35. Gemma Bodinetz and Deborah Aydon (19)
34. Matthew Warchus (new)
33. Caro Newling (24)
32. Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr (4)
31. David Babani (31)
30. Sheridan Smith (new)
29. Mark Rylance (new)
28. Alistair Spalding (33)
27. Steve Tomkins and Graham Haworth (10)
26. Nick Thomas (15)
25. Jamie Lloyd (18)
24. Michael Grandage (28)
23. Kenneth Branagh (new)
22. David Ian (45)
21. Michael Harrison (23)

Numbers 20 to 11

20. Sarah Frankcom (51)
19. Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis, Nick Salmon (22)
18. Toni Racklin (20)
17. Bill Kenwright (11)
16. Imelda Staunton (70)
15. Benedict Cumberbatch (new)
14. Daniel Evans and Dan Bates (16)
13. Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham (14)
12. Rufus Norris, Lisa Berger and Ben Power (25)
11. Dominic Dromgoole and Neil Constable (7)

Numbers 10 to 6

10. Rupert Goold (13)
9. Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer (12)
8. Jonathan Church and Alan Finch (8)
7. Gregory Doran, Catherine Mallyon, Erica Whyman (9)
6. David Lan and Lucy Woollatt (6)

Top five

5. Peter Bazalgette and Darren Henley (new)
4. Andrew Lloyd Webber (5)
3. Cameron Mackintosh and Nick Allott (2)
2. Sonia Friedman (3)
1. Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire (1)

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