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The Stage 100 2019: 41-50

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The Stage 100, in association with Spektrix, is intended to reflect who are 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 both on theatre 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 to attempt to make it gender-balanced or ethnically diverse: we believe the list should aim to reflect how the theatre and performing arts industry is, not what it aims to be, or we would like it to be.

Top 5 6-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 71-80 81-90 91-100 Analysis

41. Nicholas Serota and Darren Henley

Nicholas Serota and Darren Henley. Photos: Hugo Glendinnig/Arts Council England

Arts Council England

While not a year in which Arts Council England announced its triennial funding round, its influence loomed large. The body pushed for improved diversity, especially after it released a report that showed staff from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, people with disabilities, and in some cases women, were “significantly under-represented” in the arts. Serota drove the conversation and backed a group fighting female under-representation. In 2018 ACE consulted with the industry on its 10-year strategy draft, to be published this year. Last year: 33

42. James Graham

James Graham. Photo: Alex Brenner


It was not as explosive a year for the playwright as 2017, when he had three shows in the West End. Still, the writer – described in the Guardian as “arguably the most acclaimed and accomplished dramatist of his generation”– saw his work Quiz transfer from Chichester’s Minerva to the Noel Coward Theatre. He has continued to campaign for the arts in education and, as well as being an ambassador for The Stage Supports, he collaborated with emerging writers from under-represented groups on Sketching at Wilton’s Music Hall. In October, he was named one of three new associate artists at the Nottingham Playhouse. Last year: 10

43. Alan Lane

Slung Low's Alan Lane
Slung Low’s Alan Lane

Slung Low

Slung Low continues to show why it is one of Britain’s visionary companies, rethinking the role of artists and institutions. It secured funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to create a community college teaching subjects from astrology to Irish dancing. Artistic director Alan Lane said it was an attempt to “be as useful as possible with public money”. Another step change for the company was securing a new home. This month it moves to the Holbeck Social Club, offering the chance to build audiences and saving what was once the oldest surviving working men’s club in the process. Last year: 91

44. Julian Bird and Cassie Chadderton

Julian Bird and Cassie Chadderton. Photo: Alex Brenner

SOLT/UK Theatre

The Society of London Theatre presides over a West End that remains in rude health, with its 14th consecutive year of record box offices. However, 2018 was a year of cleaning house, in the wake of #MeToo and the Royal Court’s #NoGreyAreas. SOLT and UK Theatre led on this, with guidelines to tackle harassment and bullying, and launched a support phone line. They also played a key role in the Save Stage Lighting campaign and, as part of a Cultural Governance Alliance, steered essential conversations around the need for strong governance in the arts. Last year: 45

45. James Grieve and George Perrin

James Grieve and George Perrin. Photo: Geraint Lewis

Paines Plough

While there are significant challenges for touring theatre, you wouldn’t know it from Paines Plough. Its tour of Anna Jordan’s Pop Music visited 44 small venues,a network built over eight years. Not only does Paines Plough bring quality work around the country, it empowers theatremakers and venues. The new-writing company also teamed up with Fiery Angel to create a fund backing emerging writers and drew up a list of pledges to provide better conditions for actors in auditions. Last year: 51

46. Indhu Rubasingham

Indhu Rubasingham. Photo: Mark Douet

Kiln Theatre

In 2018, Rubasingham got her theatre back. In April, the Tricycle reopened – after almost two years – with a facelift, a more accessible and welcoming atmosphere, and a new name.

Kiln Theatre: Exclusive first look at transformed London theatre

On calling the Kilburn venue the Kiln, Rubasingham wanted to mark the next stage in the London theatre’s “journey”. Not everyone was happy and protesters continue to rail against the change. The artistic director has borne the slings and arrows with admirable stoicism – and many have rallied – and pushed on with an opening season of six new plays, five of which were world premieres. Last year: 68

White Teeth review at Kiln Theatre, London – ‘enjoyable adaptation of Zadie Smith’s novel’

47. Sean Holmes and Sian Alexander 

Sian Alexander and Sean Holmes. Photo: David Jensen

Lyric Hammersmith

Change is afoot in west London. After nine years as artistic director, Sean Holmes left the Lyric Hammersmith in October. Shortly before departing, it emerged he was to become associate artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe. The Lyric reopened its auditorium following a three-month refurbishment and strong productions this year included its 10th panto. The Lyric was awarded a £120,000 grant to support an education programme for people who are not in education, employment or training. Last year: 67

48. Adam Penford and Stephanie Sirr

Adam Penford and Stephanie Sirr

Nottingham Playhouse

Nottingham Playhouse has blossomed under Penford (artistic director) and Sirr (chief executive). Acclaimed productions ran from The Madness of King George III, starring Mark Gatiss, to the revival of Wonderland, about the impact of the 1984 miners’ strike on Nottingham pit communities.

The Madness of George III starring Mark Gatiss review at Nottingham Playhouse – ‘Gatiss rises to the challenge’

Newly arrived Penford has brought a buzz back to the venue, through a mix of crowd-pleasers, diverse talent and local stories. As a result, audiences have grown by a tenth. New entry

49. Arinze Kene

Arinze Kene. Photo: Bronwen Sharp


Writer and actor Kene enjoyed a breakout year in 2018. Catching the eye in previous years in One Night in Miami and Girl from the North Country – which ran in the West End until March – he was propelled to the next level by Misty. His sixth play, in which he starred, was a big success at the Bush Theatre, before transferring to Trafalgar Studios. It was nominated at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for best musical performance. He will be much in demand in 2019. New entry

50. Mark Goucher

Mark Goucher
Mark Goucher

Producer/Cheltenham Everyman

Goucher was an independent theatre producer for three decades before taking over at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre in 2017, and his strategy to make it a powerhouse for touring productions started with Quartet early last year. The strategy was burnished when it emerged Goucher was spearheading a theatrical investment fund worth £500,000 that would bring more commercial hits to the area. He has continued to produce, with highlights including The Height of the Storm, starring Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce, and Hugh Dennis in touring show The Messiah. Last year: 56

Top 5 6-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 71-80 81-90 91-100 Analysis

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