Josh Roche’s blog

Applying for stuff is a big part of life as a theatre director. Applying for funding, applying for competitions, applying for jobs, the list goes on and on. Actors have to keep launching themselves into auditions, directors have to keep applying, keep pitching, keep offering themselves. It means that being bloody minded and obstinate can become quite useful, in its place.

For the JMK Award, this application process begins with a list of plays. The Trust puts out a list, and from the selection on offer you find one that sets your hair on end. The first application is an opportunity to talk about the elements of the play that most move you, and write about them as best you can. Trying to explain how you’d enable those elements, and amplify them. You get to dream big (which doesn't happen that often) so it’s worth enjoying that.

At the long-list stage you assemble a team and invite other minds into that mission, principally a designer and a producer who work together to make your vision seem attractive, dynamic and (crucially) affordable. If you reach the short-list, the specifics of your vision get tied down. What does the model box look like for your production? Can you justify each budget line? How do you work with actors? How does that complement the vision of the production?

The whole application process is about trying to convince a group of people that your show would be extraordinarily good. That’s ‘good’ in the context of other Young Vic shows, good in the context of previous JMK shows, just good, period. Being humble in the face of that mission is really, really important. Try to admit what you’re not good at (in my case, devising, movement and music), then tailor your application toward what you can speak about with confidence and clarity. Try to do simple, achievable things very well. Stack the deck in your favour.

For me, the JMK was the annual highlight in a calendar of applications. Every December I would read through the list of plays and every January submit my 1500-word application. I tried every different tactic, with a whole host of different plays, and every year until 2017 I was rejected at the first round.

Each year the rejection got much easier to handle, until it was just a feature of January. That’s when you know you’re hitting a groove, when the rejection washes over you and you look forward to the next thing rather than dwelling on the past. Go for a run, have a drink, whatever you do to lift your spirits, then move on. Cracking that, psychologically, is much more important than winning a competition or getting a good review.

When it happened, I had no idea how I’d won or why my production was chosen over others. If you win I’m sure you won’t know why either. So, the important thing is to speak clearly about what you believe you can achieve, and why you think it would be a powerful, moving production. After that, just keep applying.

Big Give – Thank You for the Support!

It's the end of our Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign, and we'd like to say a massive thank you to all those who donated and helped us spread the word. We're thrilled to have raised £3,229 for our Regional Programme from this campaign.

If you weren't able to donate during the Christmas Challenge week but would like to support us, you can still donate via our campaign page. Although the Big Give match funding has ended, if you have never donated to the JMK Trust before, your donation to this appeal will STILL be doubled (by our Catalyst funding). This festive period is a fantastic time to support us - every penny will go twice as far!

Your support makes such a difference to our work with emerging theatre directors & makers all round the UK, removing the barriers that prevent talent from building a sustainable career in this industry. 

Thank you!

Photo credit: Salvo Toscano

 

Directing Musical Theatre – JMK Birmingham Rep

Midlands directors! Are you curious about directing for musical theatre? Sign up for our free workshop at Birmingham Rep on Thursday 13 December, 7-9pm!

This workshop is a great chance to explore and ask questions about directing musical theatre. It will include a discussion, a Q&A, and working practically together to direct a song with:

Performer
Charlotte Brailsford (recent graduate of The American Musical Drama Conservatoire in Los Angeles)

Musical Director/composer/arranger 
Joshua Goodman (credits include: The Jungle Book and Lysistrata. York Theatre Royal resident composer)

Director
Martin Berry (JMK Director Practitioner, credits include: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat West End, Blood Brothers UK tour, Into The Woods, Little Shop Of Horrors)

How to Book: please email Sarah-Katy.Davies@birmingham-rep.co.uk. If you are not already a member of our JMK Birmingham Rep Directors' Group please also email katherine@jmktrust.org to register.

Our Director Practitioner Martin Berry is also running a Directing Musical Theatre workshop for our Northampton Directors' Group, on Monday 10 December (6-8.30pm). Click here for details.

Directing Musical Theatre – JMK Northampton

East Midlands directors & theatre-makers, have you ever wondered about directing for musical theatre? Sign up for our free workshop with Perfect Pitch next Monday, 10 December, 6-8.30pm at the Royal & Derngate.

This workshop is a great chance to explore and ask questions about directing musical theatre.  It will include a discussion, a Q&A, and working together practically to direct a scene and song with:

Performers
Joe Heap (credits include Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd)

Bethan Nash (credits include: My Fair Lady, Derby Arena's Jack and the Beanstalk, Robin Hood)

Musical Director/composer/arranger
Paul Herbert from Perfect Pitch

Directors
Martin Berry (JMK Director Practitioner, credits include: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat in the West End, Blood Brothers UK tour, Into The Woods, Little Shop Of Horrors)

and Andy Barnes from Perfect Pitch

Workshop details: Monday 10 December, 6-8.30pm at the Royal & Derngate

How to book: Please call the Royal & Derngate Box Office on 01604 624811. If you are not already a member of our free JMK Northampton group, please also email katherine@jmktrust.org to register.

Our Director Practitioner Martin Berry is also running a Directing Musical Theatre workshop for our Birmingham Directors' Group, on Thursday 13 December (7-9pm). Click here for details.

24 hrs Left! Big Give Update

We're only 24 hours away from our Big Give Christmas Challenge deadline! Firstly, we'd like to say a big thank you to all who have donated so far or supported our campaign.

We have raised over half our target - but we still have £1,130 of match funding left to claim before the 12 noon deadline tomorrow, Tuesday 4th December. 

Any amount you are able to donate, whether that's £5 or a larger sum, will be doubled using this remaining match funding. This is a unique opportunity for your support to go twice as far!

If we reached our target, we can provide more opportunities to emerging directors & theatre-makers based outside of London. This has a career-changing impact on our participants:

Nyasha Gudo & Roy Alexander Weise in rehearsals for The Mountaintop. Credit: Helen Murray

"Prior to being a JMK bursary recipient I had never toured a show, I had never worked on a play about people of colour, I had never worked with a director and a cast of colour, the bursary made all this possible. The JMK didn't only give me a bursary they gave me knowledge, skills, experience and most importantly confidence as a director." Nyasha Gudo, Regional Programme participant & Assistant Director bursary recipient (The Mountaintop)

"Being a director/maker and trying to create one's own opportunities as well as work within our existing system can be a lonely and challenging experience. To be able to share practice, learn new skills and simply talk to others in the same position is invaluable. The fact that these workshops and accompanying shows are made available to us for free is so important. Personally as a freelancer and father of two I would not be able to attend them if they were charged at the usual rate, and the opportunities are doubtless accessible to a wide range of creatives from a wide range of backgrounds because of this"  JMK Northampton Directors' Group participant, 2018

Your donation, doubled at no extra cost to you, helps us to nurture talent that might otherwise be lost, to vary the voices and experiences represented on stages across the country, to foster long-term creative partnerships, and to create a supportive network for emerging directors & theatre makers based outside of London:

With one donation today, you can help shape the theatre you will see tomorrow. 

Support Us Today

Thank you

JMK Traverse Directors’ Group Programme

We're delighted to share details of our upcoming Directors' Group programme with the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. If you're based locally but not a member of the Group, simply email katherine@jmktrust.org to sign up. If you are already a member, you can find booking details below...

**

WORKSHOP
Monday 10 December, 6-8pm
Assistant/Resident/Associate Director - What does it all mean?

What's the difference between an assistant director and a resident director? What does an associate director actually do?

Join JMK Director Practitioner, Maria Crocker, to discuss the various pathways available to directors who are interested in working in these roles and how to apply for them.

How to sign up: Please email sunniva.ramsay@traverse.co.uk by 10am Friday 7 December.

TICKET DEAL
Thursday 13 December, 7.30pm
Mouthpiece by Kieran Hurley followed by Post-Show Discussion

Often startling, sometimes shocking and threaded with unexpected humour, Mouthpiece takes a frank and unflinching look at the different Edinburghs which often exist in ignorance of one another, and examines whether it's possible to tell someone else's story without exploiting them along the way. Written by Fringe First winner Kieran Hurley and directed by the Traverse's award-winning Artistic Director Orla O'Loughlin. This is Orla's last production at the Traverse as Artistic Director, and the piece will be followed by a post-show discussion, which we would be delighted if you could join us for.

How to sign up: JMK Directors' Group members can access tickets for the 7.30pm performance on 13 December, for £10, by quoting the booking code at Box Office, in person, online, or on the phone 0131 228 1404. Please contact Katherine or Sunniva for the code if you are a member.

SAVE THE DATE
Tues 29 & Wed 30 January 2019
JMK & The Envelope Room present Directors & Designers Residency

We are pleased to be working in association with The Envelope Room to host a 2 day residency at the Traverse Theatre, which will bring Directors and Designers together to practically investigate this working relationship.

How to sign up: More details about timings and content to follow, but please do mark these dates in your diary and we'll be in touch with more information shortly.

**

Not a JMK Traverse Directors' Group member? Email katherine@jmktrust.org to request to join the group.

What is the JMK Big Give Christmas Challenge?

This week until midday Tuesday 4 December, the JMK Trust is taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge - a chance to support our work with emerging directors & theatre-makers this festive period. Most importantly of all, all donations given this week through the challenge will be DOUBLED with match funding.

 

Image credit: Salvo Toscano

What is the Big Give Christmas Challenge?

For every £1 donated to JMK's challenge this week, we also receive another £1. Meaning your support is doubled at no extra cost to you!

This is a rare opportunity for us to reach twice as far with our Regional Programme - success in this campaign would mean we can offer more free workshops and opportunities to emerging directors & theatre-makers across the country! But to get there, we need your help...

 

Why does the JMK Trust's Regional Programme need my support?

There is currently a bias towards London for opportunities within the theatre sector. Most theatre director training courses are in London and the fees are considerable. This is a barrier to potential theatre directors who do not live in the capital; who cannot afford to relocate; who do not wish to leave their region or are unable to do so. Furthermore, many people already working in this industry (or elsewhere) cannot afford to take the time off to undertake further training. We believe that talent should have access to free development opportunities and career support, regardless of circumstances or location.

Through our Regional Programme, with Directors' Groups at 11 partner venues, we strive to bring high quality, free training to directors around the country - with leading industry professionals including other directors, agents, dramaturgs and designers. To do so, we need to continuously raise funds. 

"Being a director/maker and trying to create one's own opportunities as well as work within our existing system can be a lonely and challenging experience. To be able to share practice, learn new skills and simply talk to others in the same position is invaluable. The fact that these workshops and accompanying shows are made available to us for free is so important. Personally as a freelancer and father of two I would not be able to attend them if they were charged at the usual rate, and the opportunities are doubtless accessible to a wide range of creatives from a wide range of backgrounds because of this" JMK Northampton Directors' Group participant, 2018

 

How will my donation to this campaign make a difference?

Image credit: Nik Partridge

£10 will be doubled: This can pay for a practitioner to travel to meet with regional directors.

£25 will be doubled: This can pay for two places for two directors on a half day workshop.

£50 will be doubled: This can pay for two whole days of training.

If we reach our £2,000 target, this will be doubled to make £4,000, and can fund a total of 22 workshops around the country reaching at least 200 directors and theatre-makers

Please give what you can before midday on Tuesday 4 December - your donation will make a vital difference, helping us to support talent regardless of background and open doors to a career in theatre directing across the UK.

Support Us Today

Thank you

Image credit: Salvo Toscano

 

 

JMK Christmas Challenge – A Message from our Chair, Stephen Fewell

"The JMK Trust has a goal.

We've always believed that talented theatre makers and arts leaders can be found from all social and cultural backgrounds, across the country. But inspiration, and the opportunity to participate in Britain's world leading theatre industry, tend to be easier to come by for London-based theatre directors or those from more affluent educational backgrounds. (That's an understatement).

Our regional programme of work, led by five inspiring Director Practitioners, runs groups for theatre directors, in partnership with producing theatres of national status, all over the country. These groups of emerging artists gain access to learning opportunities, discount theatre visits, rehearsal rooms, practical workshops and intensive creative residencies - all for free.

And from every group, each year, one director works as an assistant or associate on a major production at the venue, giving them a paid opportunity to work as Leverhulme Arts Scholar and moving them forward on their career pathway.

The work establishes a direct link between professional venues and their local creative catchment area, strengthening the relationship between communities and their creative hubs and affording unique access to the theatre making process.

The work we do is unique and runs on an exceptionally modest budget and staff team.

We hope you believe, as we do, that these opportunities are essential in order to ensure British Theatre can represent diverse voices from all over our country, and offer a pathway into a working life for individuals whose commitment and passion marks them out as distinct talents for the future.

Please help us continue, and extend, this valuable work. Donations will help us staff and run this work for the coming year."

Stephen Fewell, Chair - The JMK Trust

To support our work this week (27 Nov - 4 Dec) during the Big Give Christmas Challenge, please donate here. Your donation will be doubled with match funding - doubling our impact, at no extra cost to you.

Image credit: Salvo Toscano

JMK Northern Stage – December Activities

We're excited to share details of our upcoming Directors' Group programme at Northern Stage this December:

1st December, 7pm
Exclusive £5 ticket offer for A Christmas Carol
We have a limited number of £5 tickets for the first preview of A Christmas Carol at Northern Stage, 7pm. As tickets are limited - please only apply if you know for certain that you are able to make the performance. Tickets will be distributed on a first come first served basis, please email maria@jmktrust.org to express your interest.

7th December, 4pm - 6pm 
Assistant/Resident/Associate Director - What does it all mean?
What’s the difference between an assistant director and a resident director? What does an associate director actually do? Join JMK Director Practitioner, Maria Crocker, to discuss the various pathways available to directors who are interested in working in these roles and how to apply for them. Please contact maria@jmktrust.org to sign up.

7th December, 6pm - 9pm
 JMK Christmas Social!   
Join us at Northern Stage's bar, Mckenna's, for some informal Christmas drinks, welcoming new members and having a festive catch-up with friendly faces. If you're not a group member but would like to find out more, this is a relaxed opportunity to come and say hello. If you'd prefer to not arrive alone, we're very happy to put you in touch with a long standing group member who will welcome you. Please contact maria@jmktrust.org to let us know you're coming, and do spread the word to other local directors and theatre makers. Hopefully see you there for a mulled wine or two!

If you're based in the North East and not already a member of our JMK Northern Stage Directors' Group, simply email katherine@jmktrust.org to join our contact list. You can also get in touch to find out more about the JMK Directors' Groups at our other partner venues.

JMK Leeds Playhouse Workshop – Working with Text

We're pleased to share details on our next JMK workshop at Leeds Playhouse:

Working with Text:

How do you approach text as a director? How might your work on the text inform the pre-production process? How can a director prepare the text ready for working with actors? How might you structure your research? Ever wondered how to use objectives and actions? Not used to having the text as the launchpad for your work, but want to know where to start?

This day-long workshop exploring different ways to approach text will be led by our JMK Director Practitioner and freelance theatre director Liz Stevenson (Theatre by the Lake, Royal Exchange, Young Vic).

This workshop is especially aimed at directors, but anyone who has an interest in working with text is welcome to attend.

Date: Tuesday 4 December, 10.30am

Venue: Other Space (2nd Floor, 7 Eastgate, Leeds, LS2 7LR)

How to Book: You can book your free place by clicking here.

For further information on how you can get involved with our Directors' Group at Leeds Playhouse and to sign up for our opportunities newsletter, please email katherine@jmktrust.org

 

JMK HOME Manchester – RashDash Workshop & CV Surgery

We're pleased to share further details on our upcoming JMK & HOME Manchester Directors' Group events. To attend these events, you must be a member of the JMK & HOME network - to sign up, please email sarah.sharp@homemcr.org

*

RashDash Weekender

Join RashDash in exploring starting points for making movement and text within a devised process. We’ll talk about and explore form and how we shape narrative when movement is a principle language and articulate mode of expression. Most of all we’ll try and play our way into discovering what we might make.

RashDash is an award winning feminist and physical theatre company. Shows include Three Sisters (UK Theatre Award Best Tour Production) The Darkest Corners (a large scale, outdoor, headphone show for Transform Festival 2017), Two Man Show (Edinburgh Fringe First Winner 2016, Stage Award for Acting Excellence).

Dates and details:

The workshop will run from 10am-5pm on Saturday the 15th and Sunday 16th December.

The deadline for applications is Sunday the 2nd December at 6pm.

How to book:

If you are a member of the JMK & HOME network, or once you have emailed to sign up, please fill in the application form via the HOME website. We have limited places available for this workshop so unfortunately we will not be able to accept everyone who applies. Successful candidates will be notified by 5th December at the latest.

If you have any questions about the application please email sarah.sharp@homemcr.org

*

CV Surgery

A chance to get advice from Liz Stevenson (JMK Director Practitioner and freelance theatre director) and Jennie McCusker (Head of Talent Development at HOME) on approaches to writing a good CV and personal statement.

Dates and details: 

This event will run on Tuesday 4th December, 6pm-8pm.

How to book:

Places are free but you must be part of the JMK network. If you are not part of the HOME JMK network, please email sarah.sharp@homemcr.org to sign up. 

If you are already a member of the network, you can book your place here.

*

If you have any questions about the JMK Regional Programme or where you can take part, please email katherine@jmktrust.org