As December marches on, we enter the season of lists. Not Christmas card lists – in journalistic circles, December means end-of-year lists.
Next week, The Stage will publish our top 50 shows of 2019. Our first issue of 2020 features our annual list of the most influential people in theatre: The Stage 100. Before that, we reveal our shortlist for The Stage Awards – now in their 10th year and being held at the Royal Opera House at the end of January.
Chairing the judging panel for these awards is always a real pleasure, not only because it helps remind me about the great theatre I have seen throughout the year, but because it also underlines how many great things I have missed over the past 12 months.
There is so much superb, imaginative theatre being created – often on a shoestring – in all corners of the UK, and the only way we are able to recognise its astonishing range is thanks to the input from our tireless reviewing team, who see more theatre around the country than anyone else.
Even with their recommendations – and the thoughts of our expert judging panel, who are also no slouches at getting around the UK – we are indebted to the insight provided by 50 industry experts who give their anonymous guidance about whom we should be celebrating. There is also an open nomination process through which theatres can submit evidence for consideration by our judging panel, or individuals can highlight their own favourites.
From this, we assemble a list of worthy nominees reflecting the astonishing vibrancy of theatre in the UK at this moment in time. Our shortlist boasts theatres of all shapes and sizes: from the grand old London Palladium to the diminutive (and relatively new) Alphabetti Theatre in Newcastle. We have an imaginative marketing campaign for a West End musical vying against a scheme aiming to diversify theatre boards. We have Milo Rau.
Of course, everyone’s personal list would be different and you will have personal favourites that don’t appear.
We hope that you’ll agree with our conclusions, but if you don’t, that’s fine too. If you think we’re overlooking some great, groundbreaking theatre in your part of the UK – or beyond, for our international category – now is the time to write a reminder in your diary for when the public nominations process opens again in November 2020 for next year’s awards. We look forward to hearing from you.
Alistair Smith is the editor of The Stage. Read his weekly column at thestage.co.uk/author/alistair-smith