Tom Piper

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Thomas Stephen Towry Piper[1][2][3] MBE (born 24 November 1964) is a British theatre designer who regularly collaborates with director Michael Boyd.[4] He became an associate designer with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2004.[5]

Early life[edit]

Tom Piper was born in London on 24 November 1964, the only son of art historian and museum director (National Portrait Gallery, London) Sir David Piper (1918–90) and novelist and playwright Lady Anne Piper (1920–2017),[6] and the younger brother of three sisters.[7] He 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.

Tom is the father of five daughters.[8]


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.

He first worked with Michael Boyd at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow with his design for the 1991 production of the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, since when their careers have been closely linked.

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.[9]

A year after Boyd became RSC Artistic Director, Piper was appointed the RSC's associate designer.[10]

Other work[edit]

Piper collaborated with ceramic artist Paul Cummins in 2014 on the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London. The installation consisted of 888,246 ceramic poppies and was a commemoration of the centenary of World War I.[11]

He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to theatre and First World War commemorations.[12][13][14]

Achievements and awards[edit]

In 2009, Piper collected the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Costume Design for his work on The Histories.[15]


  1. ^ The Cambridge University List of Members up to 31 December 1991, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 1071
  2. ^ The Blue Book- Leaders of the English-Speaking World 1970, St James Press, 1970, p. 660
  3. ^
  4. ^ Sarah Crompton (14 September 2012). "Michael Boyd: the modest man who saved the RSC". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  5. ^ Steve Orme (2004). "Tom Piper - Designing for Plays and Actors, Not Himself". The British Theatre Guide. Peter Lathan. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  6. ^ OBITUARY: Lady Anne Piper, who has died aged 96 in on June 1, 2017, last accessed on November 8, 2017.
  7. ^ The joy of sets in The Sunday Herald on May 7, 1994. Last accessed on November 8, 2017.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Orme, Steve (2004-09-23). "Staging coup - Tom Piper". The Stage. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  10. ^ "Tom Piper - Associate Designer" (Press release). RSC. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  11. ^ "Queen visits Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation - in pictures". The Guardian. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  12. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N23.
  13. ^ 2015 New Year Honours List
  14. ^ "NY Honours for poppy duo, Joan Collins and John Hurt", BBC News, 31 December 2014.
  15. ^ Staff (8 March 2009). "Speeches: And the Laurence Olivier Winners Said". Archived from the original on 10 March 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2009.