JMK Award Playlist

The JMK Award 2019 play list has now been sent to those who have requested it and those on the JMK Award mailing list. If you have requested a copy, please check all your mail folders (including spam!).

If you wish to request a copy of the list, or are having any difficulties receiving it, please email

JMK Regional Blog – Lucy Bird

"Have confidence in yourself and your ideas, and if directing is something you want to do, stick to it. It took me three tries before I got the JMK bursary but when I finally got there it was the most incredible experience, and even during my unsuccessful applications I got to meet and talk to some really exciting directors."

In our latest blog, JMK Assistant Director bursary recipient, Lucy Bird reflects on her experience of working on The Lovely Bones, a Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Northern Stage co-production in association with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse.

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

I had unsuccessfully applied for the bursary a few times before The Lovely Bones. It is a fantastic opportunity to develop professional experience as an assistant, as well as getting to learn from a working director on a large-scale production. What particularly drew me to The Lovely Bones was the chance to work on an adaptation of such a prescient story at the time – one which puts the voice of a 14-year-old girl front and centre. I also particularly wanted to work with the director, Melly Still, as she is well known for her strong visual approach to directing, making incredible use of sound, lighting, set design and movement to harness the power of the story she is telling. This is something I felt I lacked in my own experience and skill set as a director, and would particularly gain from working with her on this project.

What are the main things you learnt from the rehearsal process for this production?

Being an assistant on this process was the most incredible opportunity to sit right at the heart of the production and have an active role in pulling it together. This gave me the chance to learn the detailed nuts and bolts of how a production works, from stage management sourcing props to working with Equity guidelines.

For me, the most useful things I learnt were about collaboration - an integral part of Melly’s process. I came to understand how you can work with other creatives on the team and give them enough licence to produce their best work within the world of your production.  

I also learnt a lot about fortitude as a director, about how to be secure in your artistic vision and stick to your guns so that your creative vision isn’t compromised, whilst also listening, understanding and working with the wider team to make that possible.

What did you learn from touring the show?

It was amazing to see how the show developed on the road, and I learnt a lot about how to note a continuing performance in a way that helps it to grow within the original ideas that were set up in the rehearsal room.

The Lovely Bones toured to incredibly different venues, from thrust stages (such as The Liverpool Everyman) to vast end-on stages (like Northern Stage). This presented the challenge of adjusting the staging, and sometimes performances to suit these new venues and audiences. It was amazing to see how skillfully this was done by the company and also the new discoveries in the show that came in each unique space and audience. 

It cemented my belief in the importance of supporting regional theatre, that the audiences are there and have enormous generosity, intelligence and hunger for brilliant art.

What surprised you most about the production?

I was amazed by the power of this production and no matter how many times I watched it, it still had the capacity to catch me with something new and send me off kilter. It was exhilarating.

What are you working on next, and how will this experience help?

I’ve already assisted on a rehearsal and development week at the Warwick Arts Centre since the show ended, and can attest to how much my confidence and understanding of what the role of an assistant can be has developed. A direct product of what I learnt from, and the generosity of the team I worked with on, The Lovely Bones, is that I now have more belief in my right to be in the rehearsal room and the validity of my opinions (and when they are or are not useful).

Next, I’m directing two productions by my own company Paperback, Me and My Doll and We Need to Talk About Bobby (off EastEnders) which will be performed at The Old Joint Stock in Birmingham and The Space in London. As well as the confidence I have gained, I will also be taking with me a greater knowledge of how to communicate and execute my visual ideas and a more nuanced understanding of how to get the most from my performers.

Why is it important to have Assistant Director roles such as the JMK Leverhulme bursary?

As an aspiring director, assisting is one of the most useful ways to develop your skills, learn from other directors and get an in-depth understanding of the rehearsal room and production process. However, it can be really hard to get paid assisting work – making it totally inaccessible to so many of us. Bursaries such as these make it a possibility. Moreover, assisting can be a really intensive role where you are doing a huge amount of work and preparation in and out of the rehearsal room, a properly funded position gives the role the value it deserves, allowing it to be utilised properly.

Also the attachment of the JMK Leverhulme bursary to particular regional venues, and their stipulation that you should be committed to making work and living in that area, is incredibly important in supporting and valuing the development of regional arts, and helps to make up for the lack of regional opportunities in comparison to London.

Finally, getting a role as an Assistant Director can be a process shrouded in mystery, networking and contacts. The clarity and openness of the JMK bursary application again makes it feel more accessible to skilled emerging directors who don’t already have a footing the arts industry.

What advice would you pass on from this experience?

Have confidence in yourself and your ideas, and if directing is something you want to do, stick to it. It took me three tries before I got the JMK bursary but when I finally got there it was the most incredible experience, and even during my unsuccessful applications I got to meet and talk to some really exciting directors.

Know why you want to direct theatre, even if that is something that keeps changing; it’s important to cling to that when it feels difficult - either in a tricky process, a moment of artistic doubt or when you’re working towards getting your next gig.

Always be open to learning from others, and when you’re working on a production get to know the whole team, the people working on production, stage management, technical and design have incredible insight into the process and what goes into making a really brilliant show.

Know your value and importance in the process; even though you might have to take on tasks which seem like small fry in comparison to the other things going on, everything you do has a direct impact on the production. Making yourself helpful to others, keeping note of what is happening during rehearsals and knowing when to share your opinion is integral to helping the show be the best it can be.

Finally enjoy it; although it can be a tiring experience, it’s an incredible privilege to be doing a role like this as your job. If you’re not enjoying it, work out why.

What excites you most about directing?

I absolutely love telling stories and always have. I love that as a director you have the chance to share so many different stories with your audiences, and what I find most exciting is the challenge of making people care, changing their minds and /or provoking discussion.

This JMK Assistant Director bursary was generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust. For more information on our Regional Programme and how to take part, please click here.

JMK Tobacco Factory – ‘Adapting Non Theatrical Texts’ Workshop on 7th Jan

JMK Tobacco Factory Theatres present a workshop on Adapting Non Theatrical Texts for The Stage, led by JMK Director Practitioner Nik Partridge.

Monday 7th January, 1 - 3pm

This two hour workshop will focus on the process of adaptation and look at how new productions of non-theatrical texts can be adapted and developed for the stage. It will be based around Nik's production of The Borrowers which is currently playing at Tobacco Factory Theatres, looking at the process of development that the show underwent. The workshop will consider what the challenges and opportunities of adaptation for the stage are, as well as what possibilities can exist through telling a story in a theatrical setting. 

Nik is a Bristol based director, who has worked extensively within the South-West. He has collaborated and produced work with organisations like Mayfest, Travelling Light, Bristol Old Vic, the egg, Strike-A-Light, Theatre Royal Plymouth and Tobacco Factory Theatres. Further afield he has made work for the Royal Court, Traverse, Barbican and Galway International Arts Festival.

He was Director-in-Residence at Tobacco Factory Theatres for 2014-15 and Staff Director at Theatre Royal Plymouth from 2016-2018. He is currently a JMK Director Practitioner for the South-West region.

To book your free place, please email

JMK & The Envelope Room – Directors & Designers Residency (Scotland/North East)

JMK, Traverse & The Envelope Room present Directors & Designers Residency
Tues 29 & Wed 30 January 2019

We're pleased to be working with The Envelope Room and our partner venue, the Traverse Theatre, to offer this free two day residency.

This residency is a two day series of events and workshops aimed at emerging directors and designers working in theatre and based in Scotland or the North East of England. It's a brilliant opportunity to meet and mingle with your future collaborators in a relaxed, supportive and inspiring environment!
You can expect collaborator speed dating, an advice session with a production manager, a creative workshop with an award winning director and designer team and a free trip to the theatre together. 
Applicants must be able to participate in the full programme which will take place between Tues 29th and Weds 30th Jan (full details below).  
There are a limited number of bursaries available to help with travel and accommodation costs.
Please indicate on your application if you would like help to cover these costs.
This event is aimed at emerging professionals and so priority will be given to those with between 1-5 years professional experience.  

Deadline for notes of interest is midnight on Sunday 6th January 2019.  We will let you know soon afterwards if you have been successful.  
How to Apply:
This opportunity is open to all directors and designers with less than 5 years professional experience. You must have a minimum of 2 realised productions under your belt.
Please submit a short statement (1/2 page of A4 max) explaining why you would like to take part in this opportunity, where you are based, a copy of your CV and a link to your web-site or online portfolio.  If you do not have an online site, please submit 3 images of your work  (format as j-pegs or pdf's please). 
Please send your application to
Please submit a short statement (1/2 page of A4 max) explaining why you would like to take part in this opportunity, where you are based and a copy of your CV, including your email and telephone number.  Please send your application to

If you have any access requirements or any other questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with
Full Programme Details:
Tuesday 29th January
13:45 – 14:30 – Welcome
14:30 – 15:45 – Working with a Production Manager
16:00 – 18:00 – Collaborator Speed Dating (for designers and directors)
18:00 – 19:30 - Break
19:30 – Attend Touching the Void at the Lyceum. 
Wednesday 30th January
10:30 – 11:15 – Discussion about Touching the Void with Traverse Associate Director Gareth Nicholls
11:30 – 13:30 – A Creative Workshop with Director and Designer team (part 1)
13:30 - 14:30 – Lunch
14:30 – 18:00 - A Creative Workshop with Director and Designer team (part 2)

A new home for the JMK Award

We are delighted that from 2019 the JMK Award will enter a new partnership with the Orange Tree Theatre, with the winner’s production forming a core part of the theatre’s annual programming. At this new home, the JMK Award will offer one director the opportunity to direct a full-scale Orange Tree show with the production values and nurturing guidance the building is famous for.

Stephen Fewell, Chair of the JMK Trust, said, “The Orange Tree has a longstanding commitment to developing directing talent - it's part of the building's DNA, so we are thrilled that together we are able to announce a new and unique opportunity for early career directors.

“In the current climate, we believe the Orange Tree offers a precious combination of security and intimacy so important to the nurturing of developing artists. The work it programs represents many differing voices, attracting and exciting new audiences, in a way that we hope will both inspire and give a platform to a generation of theatre makers right across the country. It’s testament to our previous hosts the Young Vic that the JMK Award production is now considered alongside other major London openings, and we are grateful to them for their commitment to all the remarkable theatre directors we have supported together.

“The fact we can share this opportunity is thanks to the Orange Tree's real insight into that combination of bravery, rigour, faith and enthusiasm all theatre emerges from. With Paul, I can't wait to begin the search for the next JMK Award director, and see what they might achieve in the unique environment of the actor-centric Orange Tree space.

“It's going to be a phenomenal learning opportunity, and one we hope every young theatre director will feel is accessible to them.”

Paul Miller, Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre commented, “The JMK Award is the most prestigious young director’s award in the UK, and we’re honoured to partner with the JMK Trust to produce the winning show at the Orange Tree at the centre of our programme from 2019 onwards. The ethos of the JMK Award, and its commitment to nurturing emerging talent, is very much at the heart of what the OT is all about, and we look forward to supporting, enabling and celebrating the new directors we welcome here.”

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director Young Vic, says: “The Young Vic has been honoured to work with the JMK Trust for seven years, with many talented directors including Roy Alexander Weise, Liz Stevenson and Kate Hewitt – who will direct Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train on our main stage in Spring 2019 – using the opportunity to take their career to the next level. We wish our friends and colleagues at both the JMK Trust and the Orange Tree the very best as they continue on this exciting journey.”

The list of plays for the JMK Award 2019 will be released before Christmas and the deadline for first round applications will be 30th January 2019.


JMK Birmingham Rep – Save the Date for our January Residency

Working with Creatives

Saturday 19 & Sunday 20 January (11am-4pm both days)

Two days exploring the relationships and collaborative possibilities of working with a creative team.  This residency  is a unique chance to discuss practices, working with the following experienced industry professionals:

Prema Mehta - Lighting Designer 
(Credits include productions for The Young Vic, Fame UK tour, Sheffield Theatres, Curve, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Watford Palace and many more...)
Chris Flux - Stage Manager, Lighting Programmer and Technical Manager
(Ex Head of Technical at Leicester Curve)  

Gabrielle Moleta - Movement Director
(A performer, actor-trainer and versatile movement director with 25 years’ international professional experience working in theatre, movement, classical text, physical theatre, new writing and motion capture.  Works around the world in movement and improvisation)
Nikki Disney - Wellbeing coach
(Expert in wellbeing for artists and directors in the workplace and rehearsal room)
Both days will be fun and interactive, with lots of time for discussion and questions as well as practical exercises.

How to Sign Up:

Please rsvp to Please come along to both days for the full experience, but if you can only make it along to some of the time - do let us know and we can accommodate that.

On the Saturday, the residency day will be followed by a workshop about applying for the JMK Award (4-5.30pm). We encourage all emerging directors eligible for the Award to stay for this workshop - please let Sarah-Katy know if you will also be attending this as well.

JMK Northern Stage – The Tax Return Party

JMK and Northern Stage creative team present: The Tax Return Party

14th January, 10am - 4pm

Hello 2019, and hello tax return. Yes, it's that time of year again, the dreaded tax return is looming, but this year JMK and Northern Stage Creative Team are joining forces to get rid of those January blues by hosting a tax return event. There will be motivational music, tea, coffee, biscuits and some friendly Northern Stage finance experts on hand to answer your questions. So, bring your laptop, receipts, bank statements and calculators and lets crunch those numbers together.

Please email to sign up.

If you're not already a member of our JMK Northern Stage Directors' Group, please also email to register.

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:

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)

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 If you are not already a member of our JMK Birmingham Rep Directors' Group please also email 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:

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

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 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.