The Stage has unveiled its annual The Stage 100 list. The list – which traditionally reflects the 100 most influential people working in theatre and the performing arts – has been re-imagined this year to celebrate individuals who have gone above and beyond in helping theatre survive the biggest crisis the industry has ever faced.
This year’s list is not ranked by order of power or influence, but is instead divided into five areas. These areas represent the ways in which theatre has responded to the Coronavirus pandemic. The five areas are: Putting on Shows, Lobbying and Campaigning, Fundraising, Serving the Community and Support and Development.
This year’s list only includes 99 entries to indicate that the judging panel considers it to be incomplete. The final space is left for all the other theatre-makers who have done extraordinary and inspiring things in the face of huge adversity during 2020.
The industry saw a range of theatre-makers go above and beyond with determination and resilience to continue creating great theatre and keep theatre workers employed during this difficult time.
Figures recognised for their extraordinary efforts to put on shows include Keith Saha and Julia Samuels from 20 Stories High, who performed a one-woman show on doorsteps in inner-city Liverpool; Nick Starr, Nicholas Hytner and Katrina Gilroy from London’s Bridge Theatre, which staged a full season of work to socially-distanced audiences; Lucy Askew and Zoe Seaton from Creation Theatre and Big Telly, who worked together to pioneer theatre shows on Zoom.
Those recognised for their services to the community include Tamara Harvey and Liam Evans-Ford at Theatr Clwyd, which became a major blood donation centre and a hub for vulnerable children and families; English National Opera’s costume supervisor Sarah Bowern and her team of costume makers who made scrubs for the NHS and Andy Barry for his work with over-60s for the Elders Company at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
Fundraising was more important than ever to help keep theatre alive. Recognised for their outstanding financial and fundraising achievements were Damien Stanton and Chris Marcus the team behind the iconic The Show Must Go On! campaign; Anna Saunders for creating Not On The West End, a directory of small businesses set up by theatremakers; and the Theatre Artists Fund, spearheaded by director Sam Mendes and supported by Netflix.
Key figures recognised for lobbying and campaigning for the future of theatre include Andrew Lloyd Webber and LW Theatres chief executive Rebecca Kane Burton; publicist Laura Horton; playwright James Graham; and the collective of theatre freelancers behind Freelancers Make Theatre Work.
Individuals identified as providing critical support and development opportunities to the industry include directors Robert Icke and Lyndsey Turner for their training masterclasses in directing; Coventry City of Culture Trust’s Elizabeth Lawal for helping to shape the region’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement; and Inc Arts’ Amanda Parker for championing the rights of ethnically diverse workers in the performing arts.
Editor at The Stage, Alistair Smith, said: “In 2020, theatre was hit by the biggest seismic shock it had felt in at least 75 years, maybe ever. In response to that, it felt impossible and unhelpful to proceed with The Stage 100 as usual.
“Our list this year is no longer a power list. It does not aim to reflect the 100 most influential people in theatre. Instead, we wanted to use The Stage 100 to celebrate those individuals and teams who have gone above and beyond in their response to the biggest challenge any of us working in theatre today have ever faced.
“Theatre is chock-full of passionate, adaptable and resourceful people. They have set about their response to the global pandemic in many extraordinary ways.
“The people we have chosen should be celebrated in their own right – they have achieved wonderful things – but they should also be seen as representative of the huge numbers of people across theatre doing great work in the face of huge adversity this year.”
The Stage 100 is decided by The Stage’s judging panel, following extensive consultation with leading figures in the theatre industry and a public nomination process.
Pictures: Theatre Artists Fund, The Bridge Theatre, The Show Must Go On, Coventry City of Culture Trust’s Elizabeth Lawal, Andrew Lloyd Webber, English National Opera’s Sarah Bowern and Talawa Theatre’s Michael Buffong.