The women who rule the British stage


As usual, I am behind on Google Reader, so I just found Women & Hollywood’s report on the 20 most powerful women in British theatre. The list, published by Harper’s Bazaar and Tiffany’s, doesn’t rank the women, but provides award titles that fitly describe why their stage work deserves a place on the list.

Since only one woman of color graces the list, she gets first place on my list. Bola Agbaje, playwright, earns the moniker, The New Voice, thanks to the amazing success of her very first play, Gone Too Far!

Bola Agbaje

The lone American on the list, with good reason, is Gillian Anderson as The Honorary Brit. I have no idea what that is on her head, but if you scroll down a bit, you won’t care.

Gillian Anderson

The usual suspects appear: Dame Judi Dench is The Queen Bee.

Dame Judi Dench

Fiona Shaw, who directs theatre as well as acts, is The Double Threat.

Fiona Shaw

Dame Helen Mirren is The Eternal Siren. Oh yes, she certainly is.

Dame Helen Mirren

Rachel Weisz makes a surprise appearance as The Star Turn. Weisz is scheduled to play Blanche DuBois, but actually hasn’t been on stage since 2001. No worries – that won’t stop me from posting a picture.

Rachel Weisz

Some of British theatre’s finest behind-the-scenes professionals – with no pictures to be found – like set and costume designer Miriam Buether (The Visionary) and lighting designer Paule Constable (The Illuminator) are welcome inclusions on the list.

In fact, one of the most innovative women working in theatre today is choreographer and associate director of Punchdrunk, Maxine Doyle. Her designation, The Mover, is sort of a double entendre since Punchdrunk is the home of “promenade theatre,” where the audience wanders through the performance to watch.

As Lyn Garner of points out, however, the only women on the list besides the “big names” with any “real power to make things happen” are producers Sonia Friedman (The Super-Producer) and Sally Greene (The Powerhouse).

Sonia Friedman and Sally Greene

Most of the women, because of the nature of their profession, are considered only as good as their last show. Which is pretty much the plight of women in the U.S. theater, too.

You’ll find the entire list here. What do you think? Are these the most powerful women in British theatre? Who would be on your list of the top U.S. women stage pros?

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