Steve Tompkins, director of Haworth Tompkins, the architecture studio responsible for projects including many of UK theatre’s most high-profile building projects, including the National Theatre, Bridge Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, Liverpool Everyman and Bristol Old Vic, has been named number one in The Stage 100 in association with Spektrix, the definitive list of the 100 most influential figures working in theatre and the performing arts industry in the UK today.
Tompkins, the architect who has transformed the 21st-century British theatre landscape, has shot to the top of The Stage 100 following the completion of two major projects in 2018 – Battersea Arts Centre and Bristol Old Vic – as well as his ongoing role in re-imagining many of the UK’s most prestigious theatres.
Tompkins, who was placed at number 23 in the 2018 list, outstrips well-known names such as Sonia Friedman (2), Andrew Lloyd Webber (3), Cameron Mackintosh (4) and the National Theatre’s Rufus Norris and Lisa Burger (5) to top the list.
Tompkins and his team have worked for more than a decade to transform Battersea Arts Centre from town hall to modern civic arts centre, reinvigorating a cultural landmark despite the set-back of a devastating fire on site in 2015. Last year, Tompkins’ work to resurrect the arts venue was unveiled, complete with scorch marks still beautifully visible on the walls
2018 marked the completion of another decade-long project by Tompkins and his team: the transformation of Britain’s oldest continuously working theatre, the Bristol Old Vic, opening up the space and making it more accessible to the public
Tompkins’ work on theatres is prolific with previous projects including: London’s Royal Court, Young Vic, the Bush, National Theatre, the Bridge Theatre and the Liverpool Everyman
In 2019, Tompkins will begin work to transform one of London's most historic and iconic theatres: Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
Haworth Tompkins won the prestigious Stirling Prize in 2014 for work on the Liverpool Everyman – the first theatre building they created from scratch – and were the winner of The Stage Building of the Year Award in 2018 for the Bridge Theatre and in 2016 for work on the National Theatre
Editor of The Stage, Alistair Smith said: “Steve Tompkins is not a name that will resonate with many theatregoers, but he has been responsible for a quiet revolution in the way that both artists and audiences experience theatre in the UK. We will look back on his achievements in re-imagining theatre buildings, their functions and forms, as a defining aspect of early 21st-century British theatre. In some ways, he is the successor to the great Victorian theatre architect Frank Matcham, who is responsible for designing many of the UK’s most famous theatres, including the London Palladium and the London Coliseum. However, unlike Matcham, whose theatres divided audiences by class, Tompkins’ approach is all about democratising theatregoing – not a surprise for an architect who began in social housing. He is literally and physically transforming British theatre and his legacy will be experienced by millions of theatregoers for years to come.”
Tompkins said: “I’m thrilled and slightly taken aback that Haworth Tompkins’ work has been highlighted so emphatically this year by our peers. Everyone who’s been involved with designing theatre buildings knows that individual credit is just shorthand for celebrating collective effort, so this recognition also belongs to the outstanding team of architects, clients, consultants and contractors who have brought our performing arts buildings into being, particularly my co-director and collaborator of twenty four years, Roger Watts. Theatres are the places where individuals meet to affirm the things that we share in common. I hope our work can play a small role in reinforcing a civil society that all of us still want to be part of."
Battersea Arts Centre artistic director David Jubb said: “Steve Tompkins is a theatremaker. As well as being an architect he is a programmer, producer, artist, environmentalist, entrepreneur, romantic, pragmatist and humanitarian. When Steve leads a project he invites everyone to be creative. In the 21st century we need our theatre buildings to cultivate conviviality, to give people agency and to encourage interaction – in other words to bring communities together to make change. Steve achieves all this because he is not only one of the most remarkable people you will ever meet, he is also one of the kindest and loveliest; I expect he will be mortified that this deserved recognition does not mention every single person in his studio.”
Bristol Old Vic artistic director Tom Morris said: “It was a privilege to stand next to Steve Tompkins as a packed house discovered his work for the first time at the Bristol Old Vic in September. It was also revelatory of the way he and his buildings work. I was already familiar with the theory because he’d explained it to me: buildings only discover their shape and find their meaning around the people who occupy them. Now I was seeing it in practice. In the Bristol foyer, Steve has designed a series of vistas, balconies and viewing points. These mean that the space itself is constantly shifting as it is viewed from different directions and positions, all arranged around the scarred façade of the 18th-century theatre itself. As that first audience flowed through the space, without confusion or effort, enjoying the growing excitement as they approached the theatre, I understood that Steve and his team do far more than design beautiful theatres. They sew together moments of individual revelation with the congregated understanding of an entire audience in a way that makes every inch of every building they create properly and profoundly theatrical.”
From Thursday, January 3 00:01, the full list will be available at: https://www.thestage.co.uk/tag/the-stage-100/
New entries include:
Actor Ian McKellen (24); Stephen Daldry (28), director of The Jungle and The Inheritance; Jamie Lloyd (32), director of Pinter at the Pinter with some of the country's best-known stars; performer Arinze Kene (49); Mamma Mia! and Tina the musical director Phyllida Lloyd (57); Hamilton actor Giles Terera (87); actor, singer and author Carrie Hope Fletcher (90)
High risers include:
Chris Harper and Marianne Elliott for productions including Company (from 39 to 12), Royal Opera House’s senior management team following the venue's redevelopment (from 46 to 18), lighting designer Paule Constable (89 to 27) following her work to overturn EU lighting regulations, Parents and Carers in the Performing Arts founders Cassie Raine and Anna Ehnold-Danailov (from 88 to 52)
For the first time, entries featuring a woman make up over half of the list – an increase of eight percentage points on last year (46% to 54%). However the number of men in the list overall still outnumbers women (due to multiple people from one organisation being recognised per position). The number of top 20 entries featuring a woman has also risen from 8 in 2018 to 10 in 2019.
The highest-placed new entry is Leonard Blavatnik and Danny Cohen, who bought and took over the running of Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2018 (9)
Kwame Kwei-Armah is the highest-placed black, Asian or minority ethnic theatremaker to feature in the list. He is one of 13 BAME entries, up from 12 in 2018.