Winner 2019

Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu. Image credit:

Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu

Production: Little Baby Jesus by Arinzé Kene.

Design: Tara Usher

Lighting: Bethany Gupwell

Sound: Nicola Chang

Movement Consultant: DK Fashola

As a director, 24 year old Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu’s credits include Sweet Like Chocolate (Jack Theatre Studio), Melanin Box Festival (Theatre Peckham), Fresh Direction as part of the Young Vic’s My EnglandTimbuktu (Theatre Royal Stratford East), and Black Attack (Bush Theatre).

As an Assistant Director, his work includes The Brothers Size (Young Vic), Soapbox (Central School of Speech and Drama/Embassy Theatre/Talawa Theatre, and D and Suffocation (Ovalhouse). Tristan is an Associate Creative of Initiative.dkf.

Little Baby Jesus was first performed at Oval House Theatre, London, in May 2011 in a co-production by Oval House, BEcreative and the English Touring Theatre. It is published by Nick Hern books and saw Kene win the Most Promising Playwright Award at the Off-West End Theatre Awards.

Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu said, “It is a blessing to be given the support and time to mount the professional revival of Arinzé Kene’s play Little Baby Jesus that changed my life. I want people to watch this piece and see that their growing pains can make incredible stories and that there is someone out there desperate to hear them. I thank the JMK Trust and Orange Tree Theatre for investing in my madness. I cannot wait to tear this stage up!"

Stephen Fewell, Chair of the JMK Trust, said today, “It’s a unique privilege to be able to support emerging directors like Tristan. We all know there are so many artists in the theatre industry who deserve to encounter opportunity, but Tristan’s engaging ability and ambition when working with actors make him a more than worthy winner of this year’s JMK Award. In partnership with the Orange Tree Theatre, we’re delighted this year’s JMK Award will give him an unrivalled opportunity; to direct in the main space of an Off-West End theatre.

“We are exceptionally grateful to all our funders, who share our belief that new theatre artists need to encounter support and opportunity if they are to sustain both a career, and themselves. Their financial commitment helps us identify and sustain the creative leaders of the future.

“With his singular energy and flair, Tristan’s forthcoming production of Arinzé Kene’s ‘Little Baby Jesus’ should set the Orange Tree space alight this Autumn.”

Paul Miller, Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre commented, “We are extremely proud to be working with the James Menzies-Kitchin Trust for the first time this year, producing the show chosen as this year’s winner of the JMK Award. The Orange Tree has artist development at the heart of its ideals, and in recent years we have produced work by many exemplary emerging directors such as Ned Bennett, Alice Hamilton and Chelsea Walker. Our partnership with the JMK Trust starts a new chapter in this history of director development here at the OT. I have no doubt that this year’s winning director will make great theatre happen in our unique space.”

This year’s runner ups, and the recipients of £2000, are Oscar Toeman and his designer Rebecca Brower in recognition of their effective collaboration on their proposal for The Sugar Syndrome by Lucy Prebble.

The other finalists and their teams in 2019 were:

Anthony Almeida with designer Eleanor Bull.

Becky Hope Palmer with designer Ruth Hall, composer Sophie Cotton and movement director Ayse Tashkiran.

Jane Moriarty with designer James Donnelly, lighting designer Jessica Hung Han Yun, sound designer Alexandra Braithwaite and movement director Shelley Maxwell.

Jocelyn Cox with designer Grace Venning, lighting designer Lee Curran and sound designer Peter Rice.

Lilac Yosiphon with designer Jemima Robinson, lighting designer Will Monks, sound designer Liam Quinn and movement director Angela Gasparetto.

Tash Hyman with designer Liam Bunster, sound designer: Xana, lighting designer Jessica Hung Han Yun, movement director Yassmin Foster and costume associate Natalie Pryce.

You can read about each finalist team and their proposed production here.

The JMK Award 2019 was kindly supported by Philip Hooker, The Martin Bowley Charitable Trust, the Backstage Trust, The Leche Trust, the Fidelio Charitable Trust, the Directors Charitable Foundation and all our individual donors.