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.

Call Out for Directors and Theatre-Makers in Reading

JMK Directors’ Group: Reading Rep, Wilshire Creative and Nuffield Theatres Southampton

Call out for directors and theatre-makers in the Reading Area

We are interested in hearing from directors and theatre-makers based in the Reading area who are looking to explore and develop their own practice through workshops, events and networking opportunities.

As part of a relaunch of its Regional Programme, the JMK is setting up a Directors’ Group at Reading Rep which will share activities with the Directors’ Groups already running at Nuffield Theatres Southampton and Wiltshire Creative.

The JMK Regional Programme provides opportunities for directors and theatre-makers to develop their skill set and knowledge, no matter what level of experience they are at!

You may be interested in a career in theatre directing, have started developing your own work or consider yourself an established theatre-maker, the JMK Regional Programme will provide a range of workshops, residences and networking opportunities for you to develop your own practice and meet other locally based directors.

The events organised by the JMK Regional Programme, will be a fun and informal way for you to explore new methods of working with established theatre professionals, as well as to socialise with other directors.

Being a theatre-maker or director can sometimes feel like a solitary experience and the group looks to bring people together to strengthen local networks and offer opportunities for further development.

There is no level of experience necessary to join the group, you simply need to have an interest in directing.

A launch event for the upcoming programme will be taking place on Saturday 1st September at Reading Rep from 3-5pm. This will be an opportunity for you to hear more about the programme, as well as meet director Nik Partridge, the JMK Director Practitioner for the Reading, Wiltshire and Southampton area, who co-ordinates the programme.

If you have any questions or you would like to register your interest and book a place for the launch event, please email: nik@jmktrust.org

Assistant Director Opportunity – The Mountaintop

The JMK Trust in partnership with Reading Rep and Nuffield Theatres Southampton is offering an Assistant Director Bursary to assist Roy Alexander Weise on the forthcoming tour of The Mountaintop. The bursary is an arts scholarship, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, that will provide a learning and training opportunity for a talented emerging director who has demonstrated a commitment to directing and a passion for theatre making. The recipient will become a Leverhulme Arts Scholar. We are particularly interested in hearing from directors from Black or Asian backgrounds that are living and making work outside of London.

The role

We are looking for an assistant director to assist Roy Alexander Weise  (winner of the JMK Award 2016) on the tour of The Mountaintop, which is a co-production between Desara Productions, Reading Rep and Nuffield Southampton Theatres.

The assistant director will need to be available for:

Rehearsals from 10th September 2018 in London

Technical from 24th September 2018 in Southampton

First preview: 26th September 2018 in Southampton

Press: 2nd October 2018 in Southampton

Tour: several days each week between 3rd October to 2nd December 2018 (not touring weeks of 29th October or 5th November).

As Assistant Director, your duties would include:

  • To provide general assistance to the Director.
  • To observe rehearsals and have input in discussions and production meetings.
  • To assist the company in documenting the rehearsal process for the purposes of marketing, archiving and evaluating the project through blogs, social media and other forms as agreed.
  • To observe and assist the Director in the production week as required.
  • To attend and participate in post-show discussions by mutual agreement with the Producer.
  • To support the company whilst the play is in performance as agreed with the Director and Stage Manager, including seeing the production in to touring venues and noting the production on tour.
  • Any further duties as required by the Director.

The bursary recipient will demonstrate a commitment to making theatre and will also be or become a participant of their nearest JMK Directors’ Group and as part of the bursary will also be responsible for working with JMK to support and facilitate the group until next year’s bursary recipient is chosen.

 

Bursary

The Leverhulme Bursary consists of £2,350. A relocation allowance for rehearsals and a daily touring allowance will be paid in addition to the bursary where appropriate.

How to apply

Please send a CV and covering letter to katherine@jmktrust.org by 5pm on 29th August 2018. Interviews will take place in week of 3rd September.

Please detail:

  • Why you are interested in working with Roy Alexander Weise.
  • Your relevant experience and what you can bring to the role.
  • How this assisting opportunity will contribute to your professional development.
  • Your commitment to living and making theatre in your local area.

If you have any questions please contact jo@jmktrust.org

JMK Directors’ Group – Launch Event at Reading Rep, Sat 1 Sept

JMK Directors’ Group: Programme Launch

Reading Rep, Wiltshire Creative and Nuffield Theatres Southampton

If you are a director or theatre maker based in the Reading, Wiltshire and Southampton areas and are interested in hearing more about opportunities available to you through the JMK then do come along to our Director’s Group programme launch on Saturday 1st September at Reading REP, 3-5pm.

The launch will be an opportunity for you to meet with director Nik Partridge, the JMK Director Practitioner for the Wiltshire, Reading and Southampton areas, where he will be announcing more details about upcoming workshops and residencies, as well as providing you with an opportunity to meet with other local directors and theatre-makers.

It will also announce the addition of new venue, Reading Rep, to the Directors’ Group. As part of the event, Paul Stacey, Artistic Director and Christie O'Carroll, Associate Director will be talking more about the work that Reading REP does and its plans for the coming months.

The group will provide an informal and friendly environment to build your skills, network and socialise with other directors. This event is free to attend and open to anyone, no matter what level of experience or what stage of your career you are at.

To confirm your attendance, please book your place by emailing: nik@jmktrust.org

Event Details:

Reading REP

Saturday 1st September

3-5pm

The launch event is free to attend.

 

JMK Regional Blog – Alice Wordsworth

"You have to be bold and confident in who you are and what you can bring. Get yourself into the rooms where you can meet the right people who can offer you opportunities."

Alice Wordsworth is our most recent JMK Leverhulme Assistant Director bursary recipient at Wiltshire Creative; she assisted Ryan McBryde on 'Love on the Links' in the main house at Salisbury Playhouse. In this guest blog, she shares the tips and experiences she's gathered...

Why did you apply for the JMK Trust Assistant Director bursary?

I wanted to become more involved with my local theatre and this offered me a brilliant platform to do so. However, it was not only the engagement with all the local creatives that is so brilliant about this bursary, it is the connections with a director and cast who work nationally and who have years of experience for you to absorb that made me eager to apply. The JMK Trust has been a springboard for so many emerging directors into the professional industry and its programmes and award are recognised and hugely respected across the UK.

What are the main 3 things you learnt from working on the production?

I learnt how to generate a rehearsal room where all ideas are encouraged and tried, enabling you to create shared responsibility. Ryan would accept any creative offer from his cast and try it and work with it until something better came from, an approach that took great patience, but created a collaborative environment.

I also learnt how to manage the director / writer relationship. They can be difficult conversations to navigate and you need to accept that there will be clashes of creativity and to know when to pick your battles.

I learnt how to use and reinvent a set. How to maximise all you have on stage and to be original and resourceful, by turning something into the unexpected. A technique that continually excites and engages an audience.

What are you working on in 2018/19 and how will this experience help?

I am heading to Birkbeck in September to do my MFA in Theatre Directing. My JMK bursary enabled me to see what working in this industry could be like and I am now keen to acquire more knowledge and expand my toolkit. 

What advice do you have for directors just starting out?

Perseverance. A dedication to keep trying and to tackle everything and anything that is thrown at you. You have to be bold and confident in who you are and what you can bring. Get yourself into the rooms where you can meet the right people who can offer you opportunities. A cheeky tip I’ve learnt is to attend press nights and know what the director of the play looks like, compliment them on their show and then ask them for a coffee to learn more about their process. From this conversation make sure you book in another, where you’ll then ask to be their assistant!

What advice would you most like to receive at this stage of your career?

That it is hard for everyone along the way, but that if you keep throwing yourself out there, one day you’ll get seen. That I can make a full time living out of this profession. And most importantly, that I will one day call it my profession, with confidence. 

What excites you most about directing?

That everyday is different. That your desk can be in a different location everyday and that most days your desk doesn’t even involve a laptop! It involves real people, right in front of you, bursting with ideas they want to share and you have the opportunity to bring them to life.

This JMK bursary was kindly supported by the Leverhulme Trust.

If you're a South West based emerging director, you could be our next JMK Assistant Director bursary recipient at Wilshire Creative. Apply by 13 August to assist Ryan McBryde on Beauty and the Beast at Salisbury Playhouse, full details here.

Assistant Directing Opportunity at Wiltshire Creative

Deadline: Monday 13 August 2018

The JMK Trust in partnership with Wiltshire Creative is offering an Assistant Director Bursary to a participant of the JMK Directors’ Group at Wiltshire Creative and Nuffield Southampton Theatres. The bursary is an arts scholarship, funded by the Leverhulme Trust that will provide a learning and training opportunity for a talented emerging director, based in the South West, who has demonstrated a commitment to directing and a passion for theatre making. The recipient will become a Leverhulme Arts Scholar.

The role:

We are looking for an assistant director for Ryan McBryde’s upcoming production of Beauty and the Beast written by Andrew Pollard, designed by James Button (the team behind last year’s record-breaking Jack and the Beanstalk). The show will run from 1 December 2018 - 13 January 2019 on the main stage at Salisbury Playhouse. This is a fantastic opportunity for an emerging/early career director with experience of working as an Assistant Director to work on a main stage show, gaining an insight into an established director’s rehearsal process and undertaking a number of key responsibilities such as working with understudies.

Ryan McBryde is an award-winning director who has recently directed Love on the Links, Jack and The Beanstalk, Before The Party, Aladdin and Cinderella for Salisbury Playhouse. Other recent productions include 1984 at the Alte Schauspielhaus, Stuttgart, which was nominated for the prestigious Theaterpreis Der Faust; The Ruling Class for the English The-atre Frankfurt; Angus, Thongs And Even More Snogging at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and The Who’s Tommy, European Tour.

The assistant director will need to be available for:
Interviews: 16th August in London (between 10am-12.30pm)
Rehearsals from: 5th November 2018
Technical from: 26th November 2018
First preview: 1st December 2018
Press: 5th December 2018
Closes: 13th January 2019

As Assistant Director, your duties would include:
• To provide general assistance to the Director.
• As agreed with the Director, to carry out any research that will inform and benefit the production.
• To observe rehearsals and have input in discussions and production meetings.
• To assist the company in documenting the rehearsal process for the purposes of marketing, archiving and evaluating the project through blogs, social media and other forms as agreed.
• To work with understudies throughout the rehearsal period and run understudy calls whilst the play is in performance
• To observe and assist the Director in the production week as required.
• To attend and participate in post-show discussions by mutual agreement with the Producer.
• To support the company whilst the play is in performance as agreed with the Director and Stage Manager, including attending and noting the production.
• Any further duties as required by the Director.

The bursary recipient will demonstrate a commitment to living and making theatre in the South West region and will also be or become a participant of the JMK Salisbury Playhouse Directors’ Group and as part of the bursary will also be responsible for working with JMK and Salisbury Playhouse to support and facilitate the group.

Bursary:
The Leverhulme Bursary consists of £2,350.

How to apply:
Please send a CV and covering letter to jo@jmktrust.org by Monday 13th August 2018 at 5pm.

Please detail:
• Why you are interested in working with Ryan McBryde on this production of Beauty and the Beast at Salisbury Playhouse.
• Your relevant experience and what you can bring to the role.
• How this assisting opportunity and involvement in the Salisbury Playhouse JMK Trust Directors’ group will contribute to your professional development.
• Your commitment to living and making theatre in the South West.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview with Ryan McBryde on Thursday 16th August in London (between 10am-12.30pm).

If you have any questions please contact jo@jmktrust.org.

JMK Yorkshire Directors Meet Up

Saturday 28th July 5.30pm-6.30pm at York Theatre Royal.

Come and meet theatre director Liz Stevenson, the new JMK Director Practitioner who will be working with Leeds Playhouse to organise workshops, a two-day residency, ticket offers and social events for emerging theatre makers based in Yorkshire.

Whatever stage you’re at, whether you’ve been to a workshop before or not, we want the opportunity to get to know who you! Being a director can be a lonely and challenging job, and we want to know how we can help you to develop your skills, build relationships and access opportunities close to home.

In this session, Liz and designer Lily Arnold will talk through the design process for the York Theatre Royal/Theatre by the Lake production of The Secret Garden. You’ll also hear all about the opportunities the JMK Trust have in store for the year ahead. Those who attend the workshop will receive a complimentary ticket to see that evening's performance and may also rsvp for a plus one comp.

Please RSVP your attendance by emailing: john.tomlinson@yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

For The Secret Garden performance information, please click here.

JMK Regional Blog – Katherine Nesbitt

"I learnt the importance of relationships across the creative team, and that whilst directing can at times feel like a lonely and pressurised job, it takes a village to make it work."

Katherine Nesbitt describes her JMK Assistant Director bursary, assisting Orla O'Loughlin on 'Swallow' at the Traverse Theatre in 2015, and how the experience continues to influence her directing projects...

"It’s an interesting time to reflect on my bursary with the JMK Trust and how my work has developed since August 2015, as Orla O’Loughlin announces she is stepping down as Artistic Director of the Traverse. Not long after the bursary, a new job for my partner meant relocating to London and away from my adoptive Scotland where I lived for 9 years. I’m currently at home in Belfast, directing Jade City by Alice Malseed at City of Belfast Boxing Academy as part of the EastSide Arts Festival.

It would be hard to summarise what I learned assisting Orla on Swallow, but I can see echoes of those rehearsals throughout my own projects since. It is one of the best rehearsal rooms I’ve had the pleasure of spending time in, making a show we all knew was very special and the kind we wouldn’t get to work on often in our careers. The combination of care, attention to detail, openness and rigour from the whole company is something I try to emulate. I learnt the importance of relationships across the creative team, and that whilst directing can at times feel like a lonely and pressurised job, it takes a village to make it work. I felt such a part of the Traverse team throughout rehearsals and the run, and learned a lot about how the building operates.

Swallow was also the first time I worked on a show with movement directors, with Edinburgh company White and Givan. My understanding of just how important their work was in shaping that production has fed into my relationship with the movement director on my current show, David Quinn of Amadan. If you’re reading this as a director who is just starting out, I urge you to find a way to get into a rehearsal room and learn more about a way of working that doesn’t come naturally to you and pushes you outside your comfort zone. It has so many rewards and you’ll be a better director for it.

I originally applied for the JMK bursary because, despite being out of education for around four years at the time, it was still only the second rehearsal room I had been in as an assistant director with financial support. Working at the Traverse and being a part of the JMK programme has lead to so many more opportunities for me. I developed relationships with directors on the regional programme training week, have had the continued and generous support of Jo, Katherine and former Regional group liaisons Justin Audibert and Lisa Spirling for my work, and made connections with fellow emerging directors around the UK. I still work as a script reader for the Traverse. Reading scripts is such a brilliant way of developing your critical skills, improving how you give feedback and helping to understand what your own taste and biases are. Even if you’re not directing, script reading is a way to flex that muscle.

The regional bursary is so important for developing directing talent outside of London - I loathe thinking of theatre as London and non-London, as there are so many distinct theatre scenes, but economically it’s just the case that there are many more opportunities in London and at the beginning of your career you can feel that it’s all happening somewhere else. Since moving to London, I established View From Here, a festival which platforms work of emerging and established playwrights from across the UK and has so far celebrated work from Scotland, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland. Thanks to relationships established through the JMK network, some of this work has been directed by directors group members from Edinburgh, Bristol and Leeds.

It’s through directing a new work-in-progress by Alice Malseed at View From Here that I’ve come to direct her play Jade City, which we’re staging in a boxing gym in east Belfast.  It’s a punchy and hot-headed new show exploring the dark, toxic and tumultuous friendship of two lads in east Belfast, trapped by a damaging and violent past event. Alice has such a strong sense of place in her writing, and it’s a joy to work with dialogue that feels so authentic, and that I can hear come off the page in a voice like my own. Being part of telling stories about Northern Ireland, about Belfast as I know it, have become increasingly important to me, and it’s a privilege to get to be a part of such an ambitious project.

I cannot encourage people enough to apply for the JMK Regional bursary. It allows you to strengthen your work in your own region, but at the same time it will connect you to fellow directors across the country and open up opportunities for you further afield because of the reputation of the JMK Trust."

Jade City is produced by EastSide Arts and funded by The Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund, with support from British Council Northern Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The initial development was supported by a Jerwood Performing Arts Micro Bursary.

Tickets available at www.eastsidearts.net/event/jade-city

This JMK Assistant Director bursary was kindly supported by the Leverhulme Trust

Final Call Out – JMK Residency at Bristol Old Vic with Ned Bennett

Final call out for applications to our JMK residency with Ned Bennett at Bristol Old Vic - apply by 20 July. 

This JMK residency with director Ned Bennett (An OctoroonPomona) will take place on 27th and 28th July at Bristol Old Vic.

This workshop will encompass three areas:

1. The philosophy and practicalities that underpin how a rehearsal process is structured.

2. Practical exercises that examine ways of making work that is visually and sonically expressive through production elements and the ensemble. Techniques will include Viewpoints and Ideograms.

3. Activating relationships between characters to create visceral, spontaneous performances.

To apply to take part please send your CV and a paragraph on why you'd like to take part in this residency to dan.radford@bristololdvic.org.uk by Friday 20 July.

JMK Directors Group North West: The Relaunch

Sunday 8 July, 6pm to 8pm, HOME

Come and meet theatre director Liz Stevenson, the new JMK Director Practitioner who will be working with HOME to organise workshops, a two-day residency, ticket offers and social events for emerging theatre makers based in the North West.

Whatever stage you're at, whether you've been to a workshop before or not, we want the opportunity to get to know who you! Being a director can be a lonely and challenging job, and we want to know how we can help you to develop your skills, build relationships and access opportunities close to home.

In this first session, Liz will lead some creative exercises that will get the group working together to think about ways of developing ideas and bringing them to fruition. It'll be a fun and informal chance to get to know each other and to start a creative conversation. You'll also hear all about the opportunities the JMK Trust and HOME have in store for the year ahead.

*we will also be offering £5 tickets for Clown Funeral presents Things We Chose to Save at 8.30pm

The event is free to attend, to book your place please email  jennie.mccusker@homemcr.org

JMK Regional Blog – Holly Gallagher

Hello!

My name is Holly Gallagher - I'm a director, theatre maker, and facilitator based in Teesside in the North East of England, and I am the most recent recipient of the JMK Assistant Director Bursary in the region!

I was eager to take on the role of JMK Assistant Director for Mark Calvert's Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune at Northern Stage for a few reasons. Firstly because I've been a member of the JMK group in Newcastle for a few years now, however activity with the group has always been fairly quiet. So I was well up for the challenge of organising some activity for the group around the show! Directing is a lonely occupation, and I really think having a support system around who understand the work is important (I'm also very excited to see what happens with the group now that the excellent Maria Crocker is around!)

Secondly because I'm frustrated with the lack of paid assisting and directing work in the North East in general. Our opportunities to train beyond directing 10 minute shorts are few and far between - instead we must find writers, and produce shows off our own backs if we want to make work happen. There is a void in training in our region where directors have to move further afoot, most often not to another region but to London, to get the experience they need to push their practice to the next level (and to be paid whilst doing it). The JMK Trust is a godsend to directors like myself who are desperate for more paid work, and more opportunity to observe, develop, and grow as practitioners by seeing how other directors approach work.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly as an assistant, because I love Mark Calvert's work. His work at Northern Stage with The Letter Room, Theatre Hoodang, and of course his Christmas Show Extravaganzas are always engrossing, visually stunning, and a great watch! Mark is also a pillar within the North East for developing new companies and emerging artists. He is at the helm of NORTH, Northern Stage's emerging actor/company training programme, and he programmes some of the most exciting work to come to the region in the building's Stage 3. He believes in helping artists to grow and develop within the region, and I knew that he would bring this same mindset and ethos to directing with an assistant in the room.

Taking on this mammoth text with Mark gave me insight into how he approached work far more text-heavy than the work he would typically select (and if I'm honest I'd still love to see how he takes on a Christmas show - full of imagery and on an epic scale!). As a director and theatre maker I love text: digging into it, understanding its logic, considering how an audience will read a scene and what this means in a wider context of 2018. So I brought this skill-set into the room to assist Mark as best I could with the challenge ahead of us.

We focused on the debate at the heart of the play: Can you fall in love with someone in just one night, without knowing them? Knowing full well that our audience would be on the side of Frankie, and Johnny had to achieve the virtually impossible.

We looked at how to stage a piece of intimate work, a two-hander, in the largest space at Northern Stage. We worked in traverse and had a constant eye on sight lines for our audiences. We worked as a small company, and took care to ensure our actors remained refreshed and working to their best standard on longer days - knowing full well the amount of energy a text like Frankie & Johnny requires.

We looked into the text and some of its trickier and more problematic content: going in we knew that the text didn't strictly translate well into 2018, and we had to really consider the nuance needed for Johnny's performance to navigate this.

We worked collaboratively: Mark is a generous director, and ensured that my voice was valid and listened to within the room. He gave excellent, hands-on experience to me as an assistant which I know I am lucky to receive, and helped to build my confidence within a rehearsal room to new heights! It's really refreshing to me as an artist to see a director work non-traditionally and truly collaboratively: our entire creative team had a voice and it made the atmosphere in rehearsals all the better for it.

I was given the kind of insight into a rehearsal process that you miss when making small scale touring work. I had access to a full creative team, to production meetings with dozens of people in the room, to costume fittings, to set familiarisation, to a tech run, and previews, and press. I got to see Mark work on a text which he hadn't personally selected, and how this challenged him to use a process outside of his comfort zone as a result: all the while instilling confidence in his company. I could ask questions about all of this, and see how a director approaches and problem solves along every step of this process!

I'm truly grateful that the JMK opened a door for me into this experience. I now feel more confident in my practice and my approach to work, and am beyond eager to assist more directors at similar scales and larger! This experience was a vital stepping stone for me, and I hope will prove the first of many paid assistant roles as I continue to train myself as a director. Paid assisting work truly is the most essential kind of training for regional directors and long may the JMK continue to provide it!

Image result for frankie and johnny northern stage

Holly Gallagher was our JMK Regional Assistant Director bursary recipient on Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune at Northern Stage. This bursary was generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust.

Click here to find out more about the JMK Regional Programme, including our Assistant Director bursaries and Directors' Groups.