JMK Shows To See This Spring

There are loads of great shows to see this Spring, directed/created by JMK Award alumni, finalists and bursary recipients. We've gathered them together here:

 

Orca

Written by Matt Grinter, directed by JMK bursary recipient Chloe Masterton.

“One girl, against the happiness of the whole village. Can you not see it has to be done?”

Midsummer. The village must choose a new Daughter to sail with the fishing boats and bless the waters, keeping the threat of the orcas that roam the sea at bay for another year.

Fan hopes with all her heart to be the one chosen, but her older sister Maggie is adamant she must never, never, go with the boats. Because something happened to Maggie out there. Because no one will admit it. Because sometimes the most beautiful places harbour the darkest secrets.

Orca is an incisive, unflinching insight into what makes a community tolerate the unthinkable.

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Weston Studio, Bristol Old Vic, until 16 March

Tickets

 

(Can This Be) Home

Written by JMK bursary recipient Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir and Tom Oakes. Directed by Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir.

(Can This Be) Home is half music gig, half spoken word.  Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir examines the immigrant experience of the EU referendum and flautist and composer Tom Oakes plays the tunes his travels have inspired. Between them is a tape deck and a pile of sand. A show literally in the making since the summer before the vote, we take stock of where we are now, whatever that now looks like.

Can we ever feel at home again? Brite Theater is a multi-award-winning company known for unorthodox stagings. (Can This Be) Home won the Prague Fringe New Territories Award 2018.

Tron Theatre (14-16 March) Tickets
Traverse Theatre (28 March) Tickets

 

Blue Thunder

Written by Padraic Walsh, directed by JMK Award winner (2011) Cathal Cleary.

"My life is where you’re scared something is going to happen and then it does."

It’s 3am in small-town Ireland. The nightclub is closed and Brian's not taking any more fares until tomorrow. But, when his drunk sons show up demanding a lift home, it becomes clear that the night is only just getting started...

Take your seat in the back as Brian's two sons hijack his night. They're going to fix their lives. You're coming with them.

Padraic Walsh's powerfully immersive play, staged entirely within a minibus by award-winning director Cathal Cleary, gets up close and personal with one splintered family in small-town Ireland. Funny and excruciating by turns, Blue Thunder examines manhood and what happens when the people who should be there for you have nothing left to give.

Vault Festival, until 17 March.

Tickets sold out but further details available here

 

The Trick

Written by Eve Leigh, directed by JMK Award winner (2016) Roy Alexander Weise.

Of course you take me away from the world, and who cares…you’re the best reason I know to wake up.

Mira’s husband, Jonah, died seven months ago, but that doesn’t mean that either of them are ready to let him go.

For most of her life Jonah has been Mira’s reason to get out of bed in the morning. So when he does his final disappearing act, Mira can’t quite believe her eyes. She knows she should be moving on. And yet, Mira finds herself caring less and less about the world outside.

The Trick is a magic show about the parts of life we don’t talk about – the realities of getting older and coming to terms with loss. Ghosts, goldfish, mediums, and sleight-of-hand collide in this unpredictable exploration of ageing and grief

Bush Theatre, until 23rd March.

Tickets

 

Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train

Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by JMK Award winner (2014) Kate Hewitt.

From Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis, comes this critically-acclaimed dark comedy about the American justice system and the contradictory nature of faith.

Inside the lockdown wing of Rikers Island prison, a frightened young man accused of murdering a cult leader is confronted with a charismatic born-again serial killer and a sadistic guard.  Will one man’s redemption lead to another’s damnation?

★★★★ ‘Kate Hewitt stages a production of hurtling intensity and immediacy’ Mark Shenton, LondonTheatre.co.uk

Young Vic, Until 6 April.

Tickets

 

The Princess & The Hustler

Written by JMK bursary recipient Chinonyerem Odimba, directed by Dawn Walton.

“My name is Phyllis Princess James. I will wear this crown every day. I will never take it off even when I am asleep.”

Meet Princess. A cheeky 10-year-old, with a plan to win the Weston-Super-Mare Beauty Contest. Trouble is, her mum is busy working several jobs, her brother, a budding photographer, won’t even take her picture and then – The Hustler returns.

In 1963 Bristol, as Black British Civil Rights campaigners walk onto the streets, Princess finds out what it really means to be black and beautiful.

★★★★ 'Richly textured, passionate and enormously affecting. Beautiful.' The Times

Touring: venues include Hull Truck Theatre (5-16 March), Nuffield Southampton Theatres (19-20 March), Oxford Playhouse (22-23 March), Liverpool Playhouse (3-6 April), Live Theatre Newcastle (9-13 April).

Tickets

 

Tensile Strength (or How to Survive at Your Wit's End)

Written and performed by JMK bursary recipient Holly Gallagher, directed by Daniel Bye.

Tensile Strength (or How to Survive at Your Wit's End) is a performance about Stress and figuring out why so many of us feel it to an unhealthy degree. It’s about fear, pressure, uncertainty. It’s about sadness and mental health and how we help ourselves. It’s about feeling like things are all A Bit Too Much and then the cat goes missing.

This is a show about the world we live in now, and will prove essential viewing in a society that just can't seem to relax anymore.

Queen's Hall Arts Centre, Hexham (11 March) Tickets
Tron Theatre, Glasgow (20-22 March) Tickets
The Civic, Barnsley (6 April) Tickets
Camden Peoples Theatre, London (9-10 April) Tickets
York Theatre Royal (11 April) Tickets
Harrogate Theatre (12 April) Tickets

Further Touring Dates

 

Rutherford and Son

Written by Githa Sowerby, directed by JMK Award winner Polly Findlay.

A piercing look at power and family.

Roger Allam (Les MisérablesThe Thick of It) returns to the National for the first time in a decade to play Rutherford in this new production.

In a Northern industrial town, John Rutherford rules both factory and family with an iron will. But even as the furnaces burn relentlessly at the Glassworks, at home his children begin to turn against him.

Githa Sowerby’s astonishing play was inspired by her own experience of growing up in a family-run factory in Gateshead. Writing in 1912, when female voices were seldom heard on British stages, she now claims her place alongside Ibsen and Bernard Shaw with this searing depiction of class, gender and generational warfare.

National Theatre, from 16 May

Tickets

 

Anna

Created by playwright Ella Hickson and sound designers Ben and Max Ringham, directed by JMK Award winner Natalie Abrahami.

1968. East Berlin.

Anna and Hans are married, in love and moving up in the world – but it is a world ruled by suspicion. Who can be trusted when everyone is listening?

This tense new thriller uses individual audio headsets to give the audience intimate access to events as they unfold over one evening, in East Berlin.

Can we ever escape our past?

National Theatre, from 11 May

Tickets

 

Venice Preserved

Written by Thomas Ottoway, directed by JMK Award runner-up Prasanna Puwanarajah.

Driven by love and revenge, two disaffected noblemen join a revolutionary movement to overthrow the corrupt leaders of their failed city state. But the conspirators they join are as corrupt as those in power, and their friendship is torn to pieces in the furnace of love.

Venice Preserved was Prasanna's chosen text as runner up for the JMK Award - we are thrilled his production will be realised the RSC's stage. The production's cast includes the Chair of the JMK Trust, Stephen Fewell.

RSC, from 24 May

Tickets

New – JMK Nottingham Workshops

We're delighted to announce a new addition to our National Programme partner venues - Nottingham Playhouse, where our JMK workshops will be delivered in partnership with their Amplify programme.

The JMK & Amplify directors events at Nottingham Playhouse are free, and open to emerging and established directors who either live in or come from the East Midlands. The programme will be curated by JMK Director Practitioner Martin Berry, who also co-ordinates our programmes at the Royal & Derngate and Birmingham Rep.

Our first two workshops are detailed below:

Workshop with Claire Birch, Royal Shakespeare Company

Wednesday 27th March, 6pm
Neville Studio, Nottingham Playhouse

A 2 hour workshop with Claire Birch from the RSC looking at how the RSC works with directors.

About Claire Birch:

For the RSC Claire has produced each of the Mischief Festivals at The Other Place so far, plays include; The Ant and the Cicada Timberlake Wertenbaker, Revolt. She said. Revolt again Alice Birch, I Can Hear You E. V Crowe, This is Not an Exit Abi Zakarian, Fall of the Kingdom, Rise of the Foot Solider Somalia Seaton, Always Orange Fraser Grace, The Earthworks Tom Morton-Smith, Myth Matt Hartley and Kirsty Housley, Day of the Living Darren Cark, Amy Draper and Juliet Gilkes Romero, #WeAreArrested Can Dundar, Pippa Hill and Sophie Ivatts, Maydays by David Edgar. In the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and on tour: A Midsummer Night’s Dream a Play for the Nation, On tour: First Encounters Taming of the Shrew and First Encounters The Famous Victories of Henry V. At The Other Place and on tour: The Tempest (for children with autism) by Shakespeare. Current productions include, The Provoked Wife by John Vanbrugh, Venice Preserved by Thomas Otway, King John by Shakespeare and A Museum in Baghdad by Hannah Kahlil for the Swan Theatre.

In addition, Claire recruits and works closely with the RSC’s assistant directors and produces the research and development programme of work with internal and external artists.

Click here to book your free place

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Workshop with the Artistic Director of Paines Plough, James Grieve

Tuesday 9th April, 6pm
Neville Studio, Nottingham Playhouse

This 3 hour workshop will look at how directors work with writers to develop new plays.

About James Grieve:

James is Joint Artistic Director of Paines Plough, the UK’s national theatre of new plays. For Paines Plough he has directed new plays by writers including Mike Bartlett, James Graham, Kate Tempest, Elinor Cook, Tom Wells, Anna Jordan, Brad Birch, Penelope Skinner and Nick Payne. His freelance work includes a new production of Les Miserables for Wermland Opera in Sweden, Brian Friel’s Translations which won Best Production at the UK Theatre Awards 2014 and the new musical The Assassination of Katie Hopkins which won Best Musical Production at the UK Theatre Awards 2018.

Click here to book your free place

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To sign up for our new JMK Nottingham mailing list, and receive future opportunities direct to your inbox, please email katherine@jmktrust.org

JMK Traverse – Upcoming Opportunities

We're excited to share details of our upcoming events at the Traverse Edinburgh:

Directing Musical Theatre

Saturday 30th March
10am-12pm, at the Traverse.

Have you ever wondered about directing for musical theatre? This workshop is a great chance to explore and question different approaches to directing musicals. The free, 2 hour session, will include a group discussion, Q&A, and working together practically to direct a musical theatre song with:

Musical Director: Phil Bateman (credits include Billy Elliot, The Lorax, Bugsy Malone, Three Sisters, Our House, Made in Dagenham, Local Hero)

Performer: Suzie McAdam (credits include Kinky Boots, West End; Local Hero, Edinburgh Lyceum)

Director: Maria Crocker (credits as Associate Director include Pinocchio, National Theatre; Hadestown, National Theatre; Local Hero, Edinburgh Lyceum)

How to Book:

Please email sunniva.ramsay@traverse.co.uk by 12 noon on Monday 25th of March

 

CV Surgeries and Application Q&As

Thursday 4th April
5.30-8pm, at the Traverse

If you’re looking for some advice or guidance on how to polish up your CV or have questions about how to make job applications work better for you, we’ll be offering 1-2-1 half hour chats with either JMK Director Practitioner, Maria Crocker or Traverse Creative Producer, Sunniva Ramsay.

Sessions will give you the opportunity to reflect on your application writing skills and are geared towards amplifying your confidence in applying for the next role.  You will be invited to submit your CV or a recent application in advance, to discuss in more detail.

Time slots are as follows:

5.30pm
6.00pm
6.30pm
7.00pm
7.30pm

How to Book:

Please note these time slots are now all full. Time slots were allocated on a first come, first served basis. To be added to the waiting list, please email sunniva.ramsay@traverse.co.uk

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If you have any questions about these opportunities, please email sunniva.ramsay@traverse.co.uk

To sign up to the JMK Traverse mailing list and receive our upcoming opportunities directly, please email katherine@jmktrust.org

HOME Manchester Recruiting Associate Director

Our National Programme partner venue HOME Manchester is seeking an Associate Director:

The Associate Director is a critical new role for HOME, and is part of a new approach to developing distinctive, original art. The role is designed for an established artist, with a specialism in theatre, who wants to evolve their creative practice and have a lasting impact on a leading multi-art form organisation at an early stage in its artistic evolution.

The Associate Director will:

  • Support the development of artists and companies; providing support in the development of new work and mentorship for commissioned artists;
  • Creatively lead projects and productions on HOME’s stages and other spaces;
  • Help to develop HOME’s programme of produced and incoming work;
  • Play an active role in HOME’s award-winning engagement programme;
  • Work closely with Manchester School of Theatre in developing Directors and Actors.

You can download the full Job Pack with information on how to apply here

The deadline for applications is Monday 18th March 2019

First interviews will take place w/c 1st April 2019

HOME strives to present a vibrant, diverse programme that is reflective of the city that we live in. They believe that this can only truly be achieved if the workforce at HOME encompasses a broad range of beliefs and vantage points. They particularly welcome applications from people from a BAME background or those who are Deaf or disabled, as they are currently under-represented in this venue's workforce.

Visit the HOME Manchester website for more details.

JMK HOME Manchester: Producing Theatre Workshop

We're excited to share details of our free Producing Theatre workshop, for members of our JMK HOME Directors' Group:

Monday 11 March, 5pm
HOME Manchester

Learn from a panel of producers about what’s involved in producing theatre. From their experience of independent and building-based producing, learn about the various duties and responsibilities of producers, their relationship with directors, and pick up some advice on how to self-produce your own work.

Nick Stevenson – Nick is the Associate Producer at Theatr Clwyd in North Wales, and the Exec producer and co-founder of Junction 8 Theatre, a company based in Chorley in Lancashire which is currently making its second ACE funded show.

Amy Fisher – Amy is the Producer at Stephen Joseph Theatre. She has previous experience as a freelance producer, and was the producer for Manchester-based new writing company, Box of Tricks.

Sarah Sharp – Sarah is the Talent Development Producer at HOME Manchester. Previously Sarah worked as Producer and Programmer at Theatre Deli Sheffield and co-conceived Migration Matters Festival in 2015.

To book your free place, please click here.

If you are not already a member of the JMK HOME Directors' Group, please email katherine@jmktrust.org and sarah.sharp@homemcr.org  to register before booking.

JMK South West – Upcoming Events

We're delighted to share details of our upcoming free programme at Wiltshire Creative. Please email nik@jmktrust.org to sign up for any of the below events.

If you are not already a member of our JMK South West directors' group, please also email katherine@jmktrust.org to register.

14th February - 2nd March
FEST WEST 2019

There's two weeks of incredible South West work on offer and some can be seen while in Salisbury for JMK events. Great opportunity to see what's being made in the region, find out where your work sits and then apply to be part of next year's festival. All info online here and full brochure here

There is also the South West Symposium on Thursday 28th Feb-  a chance to meet other artists and industry professionals and discuss cross art form practice, it's a jam packed day and always a really useful way to make connections. A lot of the Venues South West network and national promoters will be there too.

Friday 1st March, 6.30-9pm
Media Space, Salisbury Arts Centre
with Tanuja Amarasuriya

Noise vs Space: ways to think about, talk about and work with sound as a director

Sound and music can be powerful storytelling tools, but they can be tricky to talk about and conventional theatre processes often leave little time for integrating sound in anything other than a supporting role. This discursive workshop will look at approaches to using sound dramaturgically and tips for collaborating with sound designers.

Tanuja Amarasuriya is a Director, Dramaturg and Sound Designer who works across theatre, film and digital sound. As a Director and Dramaturg, she has worked with playwrights and theatremakers including Improbable, Eno Mfon, Timothy X Atack, Dipika Guha, Sam Halmarack and Raucous. As a Sound Designer her work includes with Selina Thompson, Chris Thorpe & Rachel Chavkin, and forthcoming work by Inua Ellams. She is a resident at Watershed's Pervasive Media Studio, a Leverhulme Arts Scholar attached to Bristol Old Vic, and co-Artistic Director of Sleepdogs, a wide-ranging collaboration with writer/composer Timothy X Atack. Sleepdogs' work has been developed and presented nationally and internationally, including at: the National Theatre (London), Bristol Old Vic, Seattle International Film Festival, Manchester Royal Exchange, New Wolsey (Ipswich), Brighton Festival, NexT International Film Festival (Bucharest), BIOS (Athens) and Sura Medura (Sri Lanka). www.sleepdogs.org

Saturday 2nd March, 11am
Salisbury Arts Centre

Director’s Brunch

A chance to meet with Jo Newman, Associate Director at Wiltshire Creative and Nik Partridge, JMK Director Practitioner, as well as connect with other local and regionally based directors in an informal setting. Tea and coffee will be provided.

From 12pm onwards there is a chance to catch live music and performance at Salisbury Arts Centre as part of Fest West including Jo Bannon's Exposure

Saturday 2nd March, 2-5pm
White Room at Salisbury Arts Centre

Staging Memory with Melly Still

This workshop will explore the process of adaptation and staging a 'whodunnit'.

Melly Still is a director, designer and choreographer. Her recent directing credits include The Lovely Bones (Birmingham Rep, Royal & Derngate and Northern Stage co-production in association with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse); My Brilliant Friend (Rose Theatre Kingston) and Cymbeline (RSC).

There’s also a ticket offer for The Mirror Crack’d directed by Melly Still at Salisbury Playhouse for 2nd March 7.30pm. Tickets are availble at £9. Please email jo@jmktrust.org to reserve your ticket as soon as possible.

Wednesday 3rd April
Main stage at Salisbury Playhouse

Invitation to sit in on tech and dress rehearsal for Handbagged. 
Times tbc
Directed by Jo Newman, this is an opportunity to sit in and observe the process as a show moves from tech to final dress rehearsal. Final timings will be confirmed with participants upon signing up, but they should expect this to be a full day of observation.

Saturday 27th April, Wiltshire Creative, 4-6pm 
Rehearsal Room, Salisbury Playhouse
Making your own theatre - Producing Workshop - Lizzie Stables

As artists, we often hear that the best thing we can do is to make our own work. The question is how, and where do you start? In this two-hour workshop, we will explore ways to approach getting projects off the ground - looking at the process of creating a show from the seed of an idea through to production.

Lizzie Stables is an actress, theatre producer and Artistic Director of Folio Theatre Company, which she formed in 2015 in order to create and produce new plays for touring. Folio's debut show, Unearthed, received critical acclaim and was subsequently listed in The Guardian as one of their readers' favourite stage shows of 2015. Folio's next production, The Edit, will tour in Spring 2019 in association with Wiltshire Creative, premiering at Salisbury Playhouse's Salberg Theatre. @lizzie_js / @foliotheatre / www.foliotheatre.co.uk

To reserve your free place for any of these workshops, please email nik@jmktrust.org

JMK Northern Stage – Working with a Movement Director Workshop

Monday 25th February, 6.30 - 8.30pm, Northern Stage
Working with a Movement Director… 

Join Northern Stage’s Associate Director, Mark Calvert, and Movement Director Martin Hylton, for a free, 2 hour workshop, exploring the director/movement director relationship.

Mark and Martin have worked together on staging large scale musical productions, including Northern Stage’s James And The Giant Peach, Alice In Wonderland and most recently, A Christmas Carol. This workshop will delve into the process of working with a movement director, from the first meeting through to press night, and will touch on different approaches of staging dance and movement. There may be some physical activity, so please wear appropriate clothing.

Places are limited, please email maria@jmktrust.org to secure a place.

JMK South West – Routes for Collaboration Call Out

There has been a strong desire from members of the South West JMK group to seek routes of collaboration with other artists and practitioners who are based regionally.

As such, the JMK are facilitating Routes to Collaboration - research and development periods at Reading Rep, where artists based in the Wiltshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire area will have the opportunity to explore, in a non-outcome focused environment, new ideas and potential future collaborations with other artists.

The call-out will work in two stages.

Firstly, we will be accepting ideas from lead creatives. These ideas should focus on a singular question around a topic or theme you are interested in exploring. It may be that the work already exists, i.e. in the form of a new play or you may wish for it to take a more discursive and open approach to the question.

There is no expectation about what this idea should be, however, you should feel confident that you can meaningfully explore it over the course of the day, with up to 5 collaborators.

You do not need to be a director to submit an idea at this stage. We will accept ideas from artists and practitioners regardless of background or discipline. This call-out will be circulated to all the artist networks at Reading Rep, Wiltshire Creative and Nuffield Theatres.

We are unable to offer technical support during the R&D days, therefore your idea should not require sound or lighting.

The deadline for submission of ideas is: Monday 18th February 2019 and these should be emailed to nik@jmktrust.org

For your submission please send a document or email, identifying your area of exploration, they key question you would like to explore and no more than a paragraph detailing how you would like to explore this and why you feel this will be beneficial to you.

Ideas will be selected by Saturday 23rd February. 

The R&D period will run from Monday 8th- Friday 12th April. Each lead artist will be given the space for one day, from 10am - 6pm.

If there are any days which you would be unavailable for in this period, please identify these at the bottom of your application.

On the back of this, we will be doing a second call-out in late February where the five selected ideas will be announced and an invitation for interested collaborators will be announced.

In addition to this, we have the following South West workshops and events coming up. Please email nik@jmktrust.org to book for any of the below:

14th February - 2nd March
FEST WEST 2019

There's two weeks of incredible South West work on offer and some can be seen while in Salisbury for JMK events. Great opportunity to see what's being made in the region, find out where your work sits and then apply to be part of next year's festival. All info online here and full brochure here

There is also the South West Symposium on Thursday 28th Feb-  a chance to meet other artists and industry professionals and discuss cross art form practice, it's a jam packed day and always a really useful way to make connections. A lot of the Venues South West network and national promoters will be there too.

Friday 1st March, 6.30-9pm
Media Space, Salisbury Arts Centre
with Tanuja Amarasuriya

Noise vs Space: ways to think about, talk about and work with sound as a director

Sound and music can be powerful storytelling tools, but they can be tricky to talk about and conventional theatre processes often leave little time for integrating sound in anything other than a supporting role. This discursive workshop will look at approaches to using sound dramaturgically and tips for collaborating with sound designers.

Tanuja Amarasuriya is a Director, Dramaturg and Sound Designer who works across theatre, film and digital sound. As a Director and Dramaturg, she has worked with playwrights and theatremakers including Improbable, Eno Mfon, Timothy X Atack, Dipika Guha, Sam Halmarack and Raucous. As a Sound Designer her work includes with Selina Thompson, Chris Thorpe & Rachel Chavkin, and forthcoming work by Inua Ellams. She is a resident at Watershed's Pervasive Media Studio, a Leverhulme Arts Scholar attached to Bristol Old Vic, and co-Artistic Director of Sleepdogs, a wide-ranging collaboration with writer/composer Timothy X Atack. Sleepdogs' work has been developed and presented nationally and internationally, including at: the National Theatre (London), Bristol Old Vic, Seattle International Film Festival, Manchester Royal Exchange, New Wolsey (Ipswich), Brighton Festival, NexT International Film Festival (Bucharest), BIOS (Athens) and Sura Medura (Sri Lanka). www.sleepdogs.org

Saturday 2nd March, 11am
Salisbury Arts Centre

Director’s Brunch

A chance to meet with Jo Newman, Associate Director at Wiltshire Creative and Nik Partridge, JMK Director Practitioner, as well as connect with other local and regionally based directors in an informal setting. Tea and Coffee will be provided.

From 12pm onwards there is a chance to catch live music and performance at Salisbury Arts Centre as part of Fest West including Jo Bannon's Exposure

Saturday 2nd March, 2-5pm
White Room at Salisbury Arts Centre

Staging Memory with Melly Still
More details to follow.

There’s also a ticket offer for The Mirror Crack’d directed by Melly Still at Salisbury Playhouse for 2nd March 7.30pm. Tickets are availble at £9. Please email jo@jmktrust.org to reserve your ticket by Monday 25th February.

Wednesday 3rd April
Main stage at Salisbury Playhouse

Invitation to sit in on tech and dress rehearsal for Handbagged. 
Times tbc
Directed by Jo Newman, this is an opportunity to sit in and observe the process as a show moves from tech to final dress rehearsal. Final timings will be confirmed with participants upon signing up, but they should expect this to be a full day of observation.

Saturday 27th April, Wiltshire Creative, 4-6pm 
Rehearsal Room, Salisbury Playhouse
Making your own theatre - Producing Workshop - Lizzie Stables

As artists, we often hear that the best thing we can do is to make our own work. The question is how, and where do you start? In this two-hour workshop, we will explore ways to approach getting projects off the ground - looking at the process of creating a show from the seed of an idea through to production.

Lizzie Stables is an actress, theatre producer and Artistic Director of Folio Theatre Company, which she formed in 2015 in order to create and produce new plays for touring. Folio's debut show, Unearthed, received critical acclaim and was subsequently listed in The Guardian as one of their readers' favourite stage shows of 2015. Folio's next production, The Edit, will tour in Spring 2019 in association with Wiltshire Creative, premiering at Salisbury Playhouse's Salberg Theatre. @lizzie_js / @foliotheatre / www.foliotheatre.co.uk

JMK Assistant Director Blog – Marcus Bazley

"I felt like I’d reached a point in my career where I needed to challenge my ways of working, get more experience in bigger spaces and go back to learning again."

In our latest JMK Blog, our recent JMK South West bursary recipient Marcus Bazley discusses his experience working on Beauty and the Beast, the Christmas production at Wiltshire Creative.

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

I had been looking for (and applying for) opportunities to assist at regional venues for a while. Wiltshire Creative is a venue that I know well and had wanted to build a stronger relationship with so it seemed like the ideal place to make that first step into working in main house regional spaces.

I had been making a lot of my own work as a director for the past few years and done very little assisting. I felt like I’d reached a point in my career where I needed to challenge my ways of working, get more experience in bigger spaces and go back to learning again.

The opportunity to assist on a pantomime too – with all the elements of music, dance and set – seemed like a really full and rich way of getting the most out of an assisting job. I knew Ryan McBryde had directed the pantomime at Salisbury with great success for a number of years, so I was excited to see how he would work with the actors and production team to bring all the different elements together.

What were your main tasks as the Assistant Director?

The Assistant Director is a strange role that seems to not only vary from production to production but often from day to day. I think the main thing I realised on this job was that the Assistant’s main role is to fill whatever gap there is in the room at any particular time.

In the early stages of rehearsals, that’s being a sounding board and keeping a record of the staging. Working closely with Stage Management to help preempt any tight costume changes or impossible set changes before we fix anything that comes back to haunt us in tech.

At the same time, you’re the route into the rehearsal room for the marketing team. So writing rehearsal room blogs and taking the odd cheeky photo becomes part of the job.

Different actors also use you in different ways. Some actors use you as a route to the director – raising any issues or concerns they have with you first. Some actors run ideas by you first to see what you think before they show it to the director. Similarly, stage management might be running notes through you, to pass onto the director when the time seems right.

With this production, we had understudies to rehearse. So one of my main tasks was to create an understudy plot and rehearse the understudies so that they would be ready to go on if needed. The biggest challenges with this were the constantly changing script and the lack of time. All the understudies were on stage either as swings or in other roles so much that we only had a handful of short rehearsals to get them all ready. But we got there and when they were needed, watching them perform in their cover roles was one of the most nerve-wracking and rewarding experiences of my career so far!

What are three things you learnt from working on this production?

Be available to people: your role as an assistant is almost to be everyone’s friend! You need to be the one that people can come and talk to. If they’re having a problem, they should be able to come and share that with you, but equally if they have a great creative idea you want them to feel they can go through that with you too.

Structure: three weeks, plus one week of tech, is not a long time to rehearse a show like Beauty and the Beast. Something I will definitely take away is the precision with which the time was scheduled. Making sure the cast know what scenes they’re going to be working on that day in advance. Simple things like having your lunch break at 1:30pm instead of 1pm so that the day is neatly divided into two sets of 3 hours, with a tea break half way through the morning and the afternoon. It sounds silly but it gives everyone a really clear routine and helps establish a rhythm in the room.

Don’t be afraid to share a problem: sometimes you simply cannot do everything yourself and that’s fine. There’s a whole team around to support (and crack the whip!) if needed. If you’ve built good relationships early in the production, these people will really help you later on!

How was the experience different to what you may have expected?

In many ways, it was exactly as I expected just bigger and better; occasionally more stressful and always more glittery!!

What other projects are you working on, and how will they be influenced by this bursary?

I’m currently working on a couple of projects with my company, Cyphers. We have an R&D week on our new adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando at Wiltshire Creative in February, followed by work-in-progress performances at the Nuffield Southampton in March. We then tour our production of Northanger Abbey again in April and May.

The main influence the bursary will have is stronger ties with Wiltshire Creative. It now feels like a local venue that I can have meaningful conversations with, both for the development of my own work and that of the company.

I also think I will take a lot away from the structure of the Beauty and the Beast rehearsals. There was a very clear sense of order to the day and where we were aiming to be when, which I’ll definitely bring into my work – especially when re-rehearsing Northanger over just five days in April.

What support would you now like to receive at this stage of your career?

More opportunities to work on and learn from main house productions. Working on productions where you have a full, continuous rehearsal period with a full production team is something that you get very rarely as a young director – yet this is the norm within the established profession.

Just the opportunity to be in the room with more experienced directors and see how they work. There’s always something to steal or make your own, or even something that just confirms why you work in the way that you do.

Why is it important for local theatre-directors and makers to be supported through the JMK bursaries and Regional Programme?

The JMK bursaries and Regional Programme really is vital. I don’t think people are aware of just how much of an impact the JMK has on theatre in this country.

On a personal level, the opportunity to assist on Beauty and the Beast has given me so much confidence and self-belief. It has given me the assurance that I can work on a bigger scale, it has already opened up doors for me and I’m sure it will continue to do so.

More broadly, the JMK bursaries allow regional venues to have assistant directors where they wouldn’t have the budget for them otherwise. This allows venues to make bolder work and work of higher quality. It introduces regional theatres to a new generation of directors and theatre makers that they can nurture and support.

Marcus Bazley is the Co-Artistic Director of Cyphers Theatre Company.

This bursary was kindly supported by the Leverhulme Trust.

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