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Chris Stafford was appointed CEO of Curve in 2015 and is responsible for leading the theatre with Nikolai Foster and overseeing all areas of the business. He joined the organisation in 2013 as Executive Producer, where he was responsible for producing all Curve productions, programming visiting companies, commissioning new work and overseeing learning, participation and artist development. Under Chris’ leadership, Curve has developed a reputation as a leading producing theatre in the UK and a destination venue for producers to open major touring work with recent titles including Miss Saigon, Mary Poppins, Matilda and Les Misérables. Since taking up post, turnover at Curve has increased by almost £3m a year with attendance up by up to 60,000. In addition, Chris has developed Curve’s touring provision ‘Curve on Tour’, which last year played to over 630,000 people across the UK and internationally bringing total audiences to just under 1 million.
Prior to joining Curve, Chris worked extensively internationally, touring and making work in the Middle East, South Korea, Japan, Barbados, North America and Europe.
He was Executive Director of dreamthinkspeak, one of the UK’s leading producers of site responsive theatre for two years and prior to that he worked at Shakespeare’s Globe where he led on producing work for children and young people at the Globe and on tour. Chris was also Acting Head of Development at Bristol Old Vic responsible for the management of the theatre’s £22m capital refurbishment campaign.
He is a graduate of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, a 2009/10 Clore Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme, an Alumnus of the Windsor Leadership Programme, listed in the ‘Who’s Who’ Directory and is one of The Stage 100 most influential people in theatre.
Nikolai was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, grew up in North Yorkshire and trained at Drama Centre London and at the Crucible, Sheffield.
His work has been seen in many of the UK’s leading regional theatres, touring houses and internationally. Nikolai has been director on attachment at the Sheffield Crucible, the Royal Court Theatre and National Theatre Studio and served as an Associate Director at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.
Most recently, Nikolai has directed Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, the world-premiere of Dougal Irvine’s adaptation of Riaz Khan’s Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual, nominated for Best Regional Production at the WhatsOnStage Awards 2019, An Officer and a Gentleman – the Musical (& UK tour), Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard (& UK tour), Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw(with Theatre Royal Bath), Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey’s Grease (& Dubai World Trade Centre), Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (with Birmingham Rep), the Broadway musical Spring Awakening (with NYMT), Legally Blonde (Opera Garnier, Monaco & Daegu Opera Festival, South Korea – Winner Best Musical – Daegu International Musical Festival Awards), Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (& Haymarket Theatre, London & UK tour), Roald Dahl’s The Witches(with Rose Theatre Kingston, Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds & UK tour), Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Shakespeare’s Richard III, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good and a performance to celebrate the reveal of the tomb of King Richard III at Leicester Cathedral.
Nikolai has also directed acclaimed productions of Calamity Jane (UK tour), Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds); Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing (20th anniversary production – Arts Theatre, London); Calamity Jane (Watermill Theatre, Newbury & UK Tour); Brecht’s The Good Person of Sichuan(Mercury Theatre, Colchester); Sherlock Holmes – The Best Kept Secret by Mark Catley (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds); Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water (New Vic, Stoke & Stephen Joseph, Scarborough); the European premier of Morris Panych’s The Dishwashers (Birmingham Rep); the Sondheim / Furth musical Merrily We Roll Along (Clwyd Theatr Cymru); The Diary of Anne Frank (York Theatre Royal & The Touring Consortium); a major new production of the Broadway musical, Annie (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds & on tour throughout 2015);Shakespeare’s As You Like It (Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester) & Macbeth (Singapore Repertory Theatre, Fort Canning Park, Singapore).