Steven Atkinson

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Steven Atkinson
Steven Atkinson.jpg
Steven Atkinson
Born Steven Atkinson
(1984-05-04) 4 May 1984 (age 34)
Education BA, Film and Theatre
Alma mater University of Reading
Occupation Theatre Producer
Years active 2005–present

Steven Atkinson (born England, 1984) is an award winning[1] British theatre producer. He has been the Artistic Director of HighTide Theatre since co-founding the company in 2007. [1]


Atkinson was educated at the University of Reading, where he read Film & Theatre.


Early career[edit]

On graduation he became a script reader for theatres including Paines Plough, Royal Court Theatre, Old Vic Theatre, Orange Tree Theatre and the Donmar Warehouse.

He became the first Literary Manager of Hull Truck Theatre in 2006 appointed by Artistic Director John Godber.[2] He directed their first new writing festival, the PlayWrite Festival, in 2007.[3]

HighTide Theatre[edit]

In 2007 Atkinson co-founded and became artistic director of HighTide Theatre,[4] which became quickly established as one of the UK's preeminent producing theatre of new playwrights and new plays.

In his opening season he produced Adam Brace's Stovepipe, which transferred from the HighTide Festival to London with the National Theatre and Bush Theatre. Stovepipe was critically acclaimed, receiving numerous five star reviews and being called 'a five-star production in its power and ambition' by The Sunday Times and 'exhilaratingly convincing[5]' by The Independent. The play was named at Number 10 in The Times Best Theatre Productions of the Decade and it was nominated for Best Off-West End Production in the Whatsonstage awards. In that season he also produced Joel Horwood's I Caught Crabs In Walberswick, which transferred from the HighTide Festival to the Edinburgh Festival and the Bush Theatre,[6] and Switzerland, the first play of Nick Payne who then went on to win the George Devine award.

Atkinson directed the multi-award winning play Lidless, first at the HighTide Festival, then at the Edinburgh Festival where it won a Fringe First Award, and in 2011 at Trafalgar Studios in London's West End. The play was acclaimed by reviewers,[7] with Mark Fisher of The Scotsman commenting:

If Henrik Ibsen had been alive in the era of Guantanamo, he'd surely have written a play every bit as scintillating as Lidless.... From Steven Atkinson's hot-house production, a superb play is given a stunningly good production.[8]

In 2010, he produced Beth Steel's Ditch with Kevin Spacey and the Old Vic Theatre which was the first play to launch the Old Vic Tunnels.[9] The play was then nominated for the John Whiting Award.

In 2011, Atkinson commissioned and directed the first play by Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Incoming. The play premiered in May 2011 at the HighTide Festival and then transferred to the Latitude Festival, being called 'particularly striking new work[10]' by the Evening Standard and 'Motion’s first play clearly demonstrates his aptitude as a playwright[11]' by The Stage

Despite a context of cuts in public funding[12]', HighTide became a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England.[13]

In 2012, Atkinson announced a much-increased HighTide Festival 2012 with eighteen productions, up from the historic four. Ella Hickson's Boys toured the UK, including London's Soho Theatre co-produced with Headlong Theatre. Critics commented on how contemporary the production was, with Paul Taylor of The Independent commenting:

It powerfully captures the mood of a generation and addresses permanent truths with exhilarating flair.[14]

In September 2012 Mudlarks will open at London's Bush Theatre, marking his third production at the prestigious new-writing venue. Mudlarks premiered at the HighTide Festival 2012 before transferring to London's Theatre 503 in Battersea.

In 2013 Atkinson directed the widely praised "Bottleneck" at the Soho Theatre by young writer Luke Barnes:

Luke Barnes, 24, captures the voice of Britain’s youth with wit and compassion. He emerges from this year’s Fringe as a red-hot writing talent to watch.[15]

Also in 2013 he directed the provocative[16]', new American play "Neighbors" by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins which addressed issues around racial stereotyping and tensions in 'bi-racial' suburban America.

In response to Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova going on a self-imposed hunger strike, HighTide staged a performance of Tolokonnikova's writings, first at the Bush Theatre and the following year at the Southbank Centre.

In 2014 Steven Atkinson collaborated by former Harry Potter actor Harry Melling to stage his debut play Off Broadway, which was highly acclaimed.

As keenly directed by Steven Atkinson, the actor is completely magnetic.[17]

Atkinson has twice been awarded by The Society of London Theatre with their Emerging Producers' Bursary for Stovepipe and Lidless. In 2009 he was awarded by Esquire magazine as one of the 60 Brilliant Brits Shaping 2009.

Freelance work[edit]

Atkinson directed his first radio play in 2011. Written by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Michael Hastings, The Afghan and the Penguin was broadcast on Radio 4, April 2011.[18]

He also worked as a selector for the National Student Drama Festival[19] programming the 2012 International Student Drama Festival in Sheffield.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Stage Play Result
2009 Society of London Theatre New Producers' Award Stovepipe Won
2009 Whatsonstage Award for Best Off West End Production Stovepipe Nominated
2010 Fringe First Award Lidless Won
2011 Society of London Theatre New Producers' Award Lidless Won
2012 Fringe First Award Educating Ronnie Won


External links[edit]