Queen Honours Mendes, Duffield & PhillipsDate: 19 June 2000
Queen Honours Mendes, Duffield & Phillips Donmar Warehouse artistic director Sam Mendes this weekend won a new honour to add to his collection of stage and film accolades. The director - whose film debut, American Beauty starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Benning, scooped five Oscars this year - received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to drama in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
Mendes has had a meteoric career. Still only 34, he entered the theatre world straight from university and became artistic director of the reputed Chichester Theatre in West Sussex at the age of 22. One of his first West End outings, the hit revival of Lionel Bart's Oliver!, soon followed.
In 1992, Mendes took over as artistic director of the 250-seat Donmar in London and built it into a powerhouse for top-quality - and frequently star-studded - productions. Most famously, Mendes lured Hollywood star Nicole Kidman to perform, in the nude, in David Hare's The Blue Room two years ago.
In April of this year, after the success of American Beauty, Mendes spurned several multi-million pound Hollywood offers to return to the Donmar and his stage roots. The next production he will direct at the theatre will be the world premiere of a play entitled To the Green Fields Beyond by little-known author, Nick Whitby.
Other theatrical honours bestowed this weekend included a DBE for Vivien Duffield, a director of the Royal Opera House for 14 years who is credited with personally raising £100m for the recent £214m refurbishment of the ROH' 's Covent Garden home; CBEs for actresses Sian Phillips and Josette Simon; and OBEs for Neil Bartlett, artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith, and Derek Deane, artistic director of the English National Ballet.