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Piper, born in London on 24 November 1964, was educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford. In 1984 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge to read biology, but in mid-course switched to art history. From 1988 to 1990 he attended the Slade School of Art postgraduate course in theatre design.
In 1990 he spent six months with Peter Brook's theatre company in Paris, working on Brook's visionary production of The Tempest, before becoming a freelance designer working at the Nottingham Playhouse, Hampstead Theatre and the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh and winning the London Fringe Best Design Award for Cat in the Ghetto, staged at the Tabard Theatre, Chiswick, West London.
Piper claims he first got into theatre design almost by accident. He had wanted to be a biologist and was studying natural sciences at Cambridge University, when his old school friend, Sam Mendes, was directing a production of The Tempest and Piper volunteered to build the set.
A year after Boyd became RSC Artistic Director, Piper was appointed the RSC's associate designer.
Achievements and awards
- "Michael Boyd: the modest man who saved the RSC". The Telegraph. Sarah Crompton. Retrieved 18 October 2012. "2012"
- Steve Orme (2004). "Tom Piper - Designing for Plays and Actors, Not Himself". The British Theatre Guide. Peter Lathan. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Orme, Steve (2004-09-23). "Staging coup - Tom Piper". The Stage. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- "Tom Piper - Associate Designer" (Press release). RSC. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- Staff (8 March 2009). "Speeches: And the Laurence Olivier Winners Said". WhatsonStage.com. Retrieved 8 March 2009.