Learn about Theatre Directing

The following links provide some helpful hints, tips and opportunities for directors across the regions. This section is continuously developing, so keep checking it regularly!

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Immediate Opportunities: (click deadline date for further information)

25 April - Royal Court Insight Workshop with Hamish Pirie (Royal Court Associate Director). This date is for ages 19-25, and membership of the Royal Court's free Young Court Friends scheme is required. Over 26s can attend on 27 April.

23 April - deadline to apply for a free Introduction to Directing course for people of colour, run by 20 Stories HighTalawaTiata Fahodzi and Freedom Studios. This course takes place at The Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

4 May - Rifco are looking for an Associate Artist (either a director or a producer) to join their team and work closely with this successful touring and producing company.

18 May - deadline to apply for a 3 week creative residency with The Wardrobe Ensemble at the North Wall, Oxford, this summer. Open to those aged 18-25. This is a free course but selection will be made by audition.

21 May - deadline to apply for the Pleasance Theatre's Limitus Fest (offering theatre-makers R&D space and public sharings in the Pleasance's London studio space in Aug/Sept).

21 May - deadline to apply for the Clore Leadership Programme's autumn short courses. This 2-week intensive, residential retreat will give you the essential knowledge, confidence and skills required of cultural leaders today.

Directing Podcasts, Blogs and Articles:

Some basic top 10 tips in this Guardian article.

Simple points to help for the First Time Director.

Putting salaries into perspective.

Remember these methods for work-life balance as a freelancer.

This blog on flexible working within the arts.

The Stage opinions, blogs and reviews.

WhatsOnStage blogs, including this one on theatre as a process rather than a product.

The blog section for Unlimited has loads of advice on marketing, invoicing, fundraising, making your work accessible and forming artistic collaborations.

Advice from David Jubb, Artistic Director of Battersea Arts Centre, and producer Tobi Kyeremateng for those starting their careers.

Advice from Emma Rice, Rufus Norris and more, on what they wished they'd known starting out.

Tips on setting up a theatre company from an industry panel.

Stage Directors UK have launched their blog - with interviews and opinions from within the industry.

This Younger Theatre blog on how to find and work with a designer.

If you're looking to take your work to a Fringe Festival, this is a great list of which ones occur in each month.

Check out Devoted and Disgrunted - their events are gatherings that discuss creative practice and problems within the industry, in a flexible open space manner (rather than key-notes speakers and set agendas). The outcomes of these discussions are complied into reports by participants, which are added to a library on their website. This library is a great resource of more than 2000 reports - offering advice, ideas, dreams and issues within the industry. You can add to and use it for free.

BBC Writers Room - moving from theatre directing to TV.

Check out the blogs written by our JMK Regional Bursary recipients, which give a peak into the rehearsal rooms of the shows they have assisted on at our partner venues.

Listen to interviews with leading directors through the Young Vic Off Book podcast. Many of the interviews are with former JMK Award winners (including Josh Roche, Roy Alexander Weise, Joe Hill-Gibbins and Natalie Abrahami). Their conversations are a great insight how they became a director, their experiences (including the JMK Award), successes, failures and tips for those entering this career.

Also check out the National Theatre's podcast for discussions with leading artists on themes such as 'Epic Fail', 'Edinburgh', 'New Work' 'Masculinity', etc. There are also regular Platforms held at the National Theatre - an eclectic programme of talks, discussions and interviews, offering the chance to learn more about the National's work and the arts in general.

WhatsOnStage have launched their Shows That Shaped Me Podcast, which asks leading theatre actors and makers about their most memorable productions, the production they wished they'd seen and the person, dead or alive, that they'd most like to work with.

The Telegraph's Much Ado About Shakespeare podcast includes a feature on JMK Award alumna Polly Findlay's Macbeth at the RSC, including conversations with her, Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack on rehearsing the play.

Useful resources:

Stage Directors UK - the professional trade organisation for stage directors across the UK.

ITC - for a membership fee, you can receive support and assistance setting up your theatre company. There is also a free resource to check rates of pay (for directors, writers, actors, etc).

Awards / Schemes:

RTST - the Royal Theatrical Support Trust's Director Award Scheme enables an up-and-coming director to direct a fully-funded production of a play as part of a main season of productions at a British regional theatre. It is designed to benefit directors with significant experience who are ready to direct for the main house of a regional theatre. Certain criteria are specified each year by the regional theatre. E.g their 2017 regional venue, Nuffield Southampton Theatres, gave the criteria of 'a bold, radical re-working of a classic British or European play in response to contemporary issues, particularly those relating to our national identity'. Read about the RTST 2017 winner (a JMK Award 2016 finalist) Chelsea Walker, here.

RTYDS (Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme) - brings together emerging directors with the UK’s leading regional theatre companies. They are particularly focused on directors who live outside London and are from communities presently under-represented in theatre. Opportunities span career experience - including an Introduction to Directing course, 3 Month Placements, 18 Month Residencies (applicants must have no less than 18 months experience directing) and Associate Director scheme (preparing established directors for artistic leadership).

The Oxford Samuel Beckett Trust Award - is for a company or individual to create either a show to be performed in The Pit, Barbican, or a site-responsive, non-traditional show to take place in East London or in the City of London. Applications re-open in the Autumn.

Genesis Future Directors Award - The Award is aimed at emerging directors who have demonstrated a talent for, and commitment to, directing but have had limited opportunity to make work. The production is part of the Young Vic's programme and is staged in their Clare Theatre. There are two Awards per year and these opportunities will be advertised through the Genesis Directors Network.

Free resources:

Masterclass, Theatre Royal Haymarket - Runs free talks and on-stage workshops (regularly with leading theatre directors and industry figures). Recent Masters include Iqbal Khan, Damien Lewis, Jessica Swale, Indhu Rubasingham, and Simon Stevens. Masterclass also co-runs TheatreCraft, an annual careers fair and industry networking event for under 25s entering into non-performance careers (including directing).

Theatrecraft - the largest non-performance careers fair in London. This year, it will be held on the 3rd November 2017. A full day of workshops, one-to-one Ask the Experts advice sessions with industry leaders and Marketplace networking opportunities. Free for directors aged 16-25.

London Opportunities:

Young Vic - as well as their Genesis Award, the extensive Directors Program includes paid assistant director roles (Jerwood Assistant Director), shadowing opportunities (Boris Karloff Trainee Assistant Director), skills workshops and peer-led projects within their Directors Network. Applications are made through the online form and supporting documents (click for more details).

Donmar Warehouse - One annual Resident Assistant Director opportunity. Advertised on their vacancies page.

Royal Court - When available, Assistant Director opportunities will be on the jobs section of their website.

NT Studio - the NT employ staff directors, who are managed by the New Works department. Invatations can be sent to New Works to see shows (but they are a very small team). The NT also runs regular Platform talks.

King's Head - two early-career trainees on a part-time basis per year. Unpaid. Runs Sept 2017 - Sept 2018. Application by CV and cover letter to info@kingsheadtheatre.com

Finborough Theatre - Assistant Director scheme no longer running.

New Diorama - Dedicated to supporting new theatre companies, the New Diorama runs a Graduate Company Programme, hosts the INCOMING festival, a Two Night Stand for emerging theatre companies based outside London to show their work. They are currently looking for BAME companies to support.

Regents Park Open Air Theatre - lists Assistant Director opportunities when available.

Almeida Theatre - The Almeida Theatre’s Directors' Pool offers directors in the early stages of their career the opportunity to work closely with the theatre in all aspects of the artistic programme, to gain experience through access to the resources provided by the Almeida, and to widen their artistic network. Also runs a free Introduction to Directing 3 day workshop for under 25s.

Gate Theatre - Invite to see your show, via this link.

Old Vic - run an annual Old Vic 12 scheme, bringing 3 directors, 3 producers, 3 playwrights and 3 collaborators from any other discipline. Applications open in the summer (information for 2017/18 applications here).

Headlong - regularly employ Assistant Directors. To be considered, send them a CV and a covering letter explaining why you would like to work with Headlong. Emerging directors are welcome to email for advice and send show invitations. If invited to a show in good time, a member of the team will try to attend.

Opportunities Outside of London:


Nuffield Southampton Theatres - the Laboratory (Artistic Development) department offers as annual Associate Director position. This is a paid role, where the Associate works as an Assistant on NST productions and then stages their own production at the end of their attachment. There is also a Graduate Associate opportunity and the Laboratory network regularly runs scratch nights, tenancies and other opportunities. NST are also our partners for delivering the JMK Regional Group with Salisbury Playhouse.

Bristol Old Vic - Their Artistic Development, Bristol Ferments, runs Ferment Festivals, retreats and residencies, as well as producing support for projects that really excite them. This programme is not open access, and is curated by Bristol Ferment producer Emma Bettridge. First contact should be made to bristolferment@bristololdvic.org.uk. They are also our partners for delivering the JMK Regional Group for Bristol.

Salisbury Playhouse - Are also our partners for delivering the JMK Regional Group with Nuffield Southampton Theatres. They also run various Artistic Development opportunities, including their annual Theatre Fest West.

Royal & Derngate, Northampton - In addition t their JMK Regional Directors Group, Royal & Derngate offers opportunities such as Generate to promote the creation of new work and strengthen artistic collaborations in the region.

HOME Manchester - Delivers our JMK Directors Group,  including workshops and Assistant Director opportunities.

West Yorkshire Playhouse - WYP offers extensive artistic development support, including Furnace scratch nights, artistic attachments, Summer Sublets of space and resources, and host our JMK Regional Directors Group.

Theatre Royal, Plymouth - Offer an annual Assistant Director opportunity, a paid role with a 9 month attachment (applications open each May). Other ways to take part include their LAB company (an early-career artists company open to writers, dramaturgs, actors, directors, etc), Reach Out (with the Young Vic) and Introduction to Directing course.

Dukes Theatre, Lancaster - Their Artists Hub page lists regular opportunities for directors.

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry - Lists trainee Assistant Director opportunities when available.

Chichester Festival Theatre - Assistant Director roles listed when applicable.

Cambridge Junction - Their Artist Development strand includes Troop, a network for local theatre-makers, View from the 'Bridge showcases, WATCH OUT (an annual one day festival of experimental performance), residencies, and Masterclasses with visiting companies. In 2017, they launched the Stobbs New Ideas Fund.


Traverse Theatre - Host our Edinburgh JMK Regional Directors Group and run Hothouse, a showcase for home grown theatre companies and artists.

The Lyceum, Edinburgh - runs Masterclasses for directors, and other opportunities.

Glasgow Citizensruns various community workshops, projects, CPT and Educational training.

Tron Theatre - Members of their Tron 100 scheme benefit from workshops with leading theatre practitioners from across the UK, mentorship from the Tron's artistic producers, talks and the annual Tron 100 Festival. Applications open each November. Tron Creative also runs Outside Eyes scratch nights, opportunities to direct through Progressive Playwright and Tron Lab residencies.

Dundee Rep - Opportunities are advertised through their Creative Pathways.

Scottish Theatre Federation - Assistant Director bursary to support a partnership between the applicant and host Theatre Company,  any submission to the programme via the application form must be jointly developed. Deadlines April and November.


Sherman Theatre, Cardiff -Runs our Welsh JMK Regional Directors Group.They are dedicated to supporting new and emerging directors, offering opportunities both in English and in Welsh.

National Theatre of Wales - In autumn 2017, National Theatre Wales will launch its Creative Development programme. This programme has been developed through rigorous research and in-depth conversations with artists, to facilitate the Company’s connection with creative individuals at all levels of experience and development.

The Other Room, Porter's - recruit an Assistant Director in January each year. Former Assistant Directors can then apply to be a Trainee Director, on a 6-8 month attachment to expand their practice and direct a show at the end of their tenure. They also recruit Associate Directors from former Trainees and Welsh / Welsh based theatre directors with more than 2 years experience. Full details here.

Northern Ireland

Lyric Theatre - Opportunities are advertised through their Creative Learning page.

Theatre NI - Runs a Freelancers Directory and extensive opportunities listings for members.

Fund your Work

Please note, funding options vary depending on your location and the form of your project (e.g. an individual director will have less options than a theatre company that is registered as a charity / not-for profit organisation). Read all guidance carefully.

Here are some advice tips that apply to all

An article on how to successfully crowdfund (an option available for all, but difficult and time-consuming). This is part of a series run by Theatre Bubble, including interviews with small-scale theatre companies on their experiences and tips for crowdfunding.

Keep an eye on interim arts and your local council for space available to artists in empty buildings.

Edinburgh Fringe guidance includes many useful suggestions - including tips for securing business sponsorship.

Arts Council Funding - anyone can apply to Grants for the Arts, but competition is fierce. Be sure to consult their online advice and guidance information sheets before applying.

Creative Scotland regularly list job opportunities and funding resources (Scottish directors)

Dewar Arts Award - for creative artists in Scotland under 30 who lack the financial resources to achieve their potential.

National Lottery - search for funds that match your criteria

O2 run a Think Big fund for projects by Under 25s that benefit the community.

The John Fernald Award (set up in 1988 in honour of the late Theatre Director and RADA Principal John Fernald) gives funding or part-funding to a maximum of two successful applicants, to direct a play or site-specific event. A total of £5K is distributed. Theatre makers and directors from the UK or Republic of Ireland with some professional experience in the field are eligible. Professional theatres may also apply on behalf of a director they wish to hire.

The Jerwood Charitable Foundation have application rounds for their Performing Arts Micro Bursaries (created from the legacy of the BBC Performing Arts Fund). Awards are made of between £250 - £1000 for independent artists / producers who have identified a clear, specific learning opportunity.

Press Releases & Publicity

Guide on how to write a press release.

Guide to promoting your show on social media.

Any suggestions or things you'd like to see on this resources page? Email Katherine Rigg, our Fundraising and Marketing Administrator, on katherine@jmktrust.org