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Terri Joins the Top Table

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Everyone at Whatsonstage.com is gratified, of course, to see our editorial director, Terri Paddock, named in the top fifty theatre movers and shakers in The Times today, though there's no clue as to who did the selection.

Mostly, the list follows the same sort of structure as in The Stage, and the top five are no surprise at all: Nicholas Hytner, Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire (the well-known ATG pantomime double act), Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh and Michael Grandage, with Nica Burns at number six.

What the list does confirm is the surge to the top, at last, of our female stage directors: how can the big institutions, and I suppose I mean the National Theatre, resist any longer the clamour to destroy, in succession to Hytner, the hegemony of the white, male, middle-class Cambridge-educated mafia (that is, the succession from Peter Hall to Richard Eyre, Trevor Nunn and Hytner)? Nick had a hell of a nerve to complain about the dead white male middle-class theatre critics.
When Hytner goes, presumably in 2013, the NT board must surely persuade either Marianne Elliott or Thea Sharrock to take the top job. It's all too easy and too obvious to call up Grandage or Rupert Goold.

And what about Josie Rourke -- already tipped as Grandage's successor at the Donmar -- and planning the Bush's move round the corner to their new home? Josie leapfrogs Elliott, Sharrock and Katie Mitchell in the Times list, coming in at number 23. She'd be a wonderful breath of fresh air, and she'd bring a welcome blast of Celtic passion to the place, as she's already ably demonstrated with Men Should Weep.

Failing that, perhaps we should start a campaign for Terri Paddock herself to step up to the plate. Next year she succeeds David Dobson as managing editor, too, and is currently studying hard for a business degree; so she'll be well qualified on the book-keeping side, at least. And I could be her literary manager!  

One terrible solecism mars the innocent fun of the Times list. On the paper's front page, they banner-headline the feature as "The Luvvie Power List." I really don't mind failing in the various bee-in-my-bonnet campaigns I occasionally launch in this blog, but my failure to ban the word "luvvie" from the public discourse rankles deep.

The term is a demeaning, lazy and condescending word to describe someone who works in the theatre. It is quite extraordinary in this country, where we have the best theatre in the world, and the greatest actors, that we insist on trivialising their status and contribution in this way. It's bad manners, bad English and patronising oafishness.

I'm not against rudeness in public life, I'm all for it, and wish there were more. As Tom Stoppard said, freedom of speech means nothing if we can't be rude about each other. But the word "luvvie" goes beyond that. It's a middle-class sneer of a term, one of implied intellectual superiority, but in fact one of gross ignorance.

One longs for actors to be rogues and vagabonds once more, and sometimes, too infrequently, they are. But to be a "luvvie" you might as well be a cuddly toy on television, or a nodding dog on a car's back seat window.

I shall have a word about this with the top fifty, including Terri, and see what more can be done.  


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