Learn about Theatre Directing

Looking for advice on theatre directing? Keen to build your career but not sure where to start? We're here to help!

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

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JMK Workshops and Bursaries:

(click the deadline date for further information on how to take part in these free workshops, residencies and opportunities)

22 March - Deadline for Northern based directors and set/costume designers to apply for our free two day residency at Leeds Playhouse

With Leeds Playhouse, we’re hosting a two day intensive on 29 & 30 March for 10 early career Directors and 10 early career Set & Costume Designers to explore the relationship between these two roles and the process of creating the design and concept for a piece of theatre. It’s also an opportunity for artists to meet potential collaborators and peers from across the region. The two days will be led by Hamlet Director Amy Leach and Designer Hayley Grindle, with contributions from Sound Designer & Composer Alexandra Braithwaite.

25 March - CV Surgery / Application Q&As at Northern Stage

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’re offering 1-2-1 half hour chats with JMK Director Practitioner, Maria Crocker. Time slots (between 4-7pm) are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

25 MarchDeadline for South West creatives (of any discipline) to submit Expressions of Interest for our Routes to Collaboration: Second Call Out

Routes for Collaboration aims to facilitate new opportunities for connection between creatives based regionally, as well as allowing new ideas to be practically explored within a rehearsal space. It is an artist led project, facilitated by the JMK in association with Reading Rep, Wiltshire Creative and Nuffield Southampton Theatres. We have selected 5 ideas from our first call out in January, and each of those will have an R&D day in April at Reading Rep. The creative leads on those projects are now seeking collaborators. Click the date above for further details on how to get involved.

30 March - JMK Workshop at Traverse Edinburgh - Directing Musical Theatre

Have you ever wondered about directing for musical theatre? This workshop is a great chance to explore and question different approaches to directing musicals. Deadline to sign up is 12 noon Monday 25 March.

27 MarchJMK Workshop at Nottingham Playhouse - Claire Birch, Royal Shakespeare Company

A 2 hour workshop with Claire Birch from the RSC looking at how the RSC works with directors. This is for emerging and established theatre directors who live in or come from the East Midlands.

3 AprilInvitation for South West directors to sit in on tech and dress rehearsal for Handbagged

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.

4 April - JMK Traverse CV Surgeries and Application Q&As

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. Please note the time slots for this session are now all full, but you can click the date link above for details on how to join the waiting list.

9 April - JMK Workshop at Nottingham Playhouse - James Grieve, Artistic Director of Paines Plough

A 3 hour workshop with the Artistic Director of Paines Plough James Grieve. This workshop will look at how directors work with writers to develop new plays. This is for emerging and established directors who either live in or come from the East Midlands.

27 April - JMK Workshop at Wiltshire Creative - Producing Workshop with 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.

Email katherine@jmktrust.org for further information on your nearest JMK Directors' Group and how to take part in our programmes.

Other Opportunities For Directors/Makers:

March/April - Talawa and Graeae are offering a fresh opportunity for BAME D/deaf and/or disabled artists to join their 2019 collective. Whether a playwright, actor, theatre maker, director, dancer, artist, live artist or a designer…Talawa and Graeae want to hear from you! There will be a series of 6 sessions across April and May between 10.30am and 4pm. Access support and travel bursaries are available.

24 March - Applications are open for Theatre503's 503Five Writers' Residency - an 18 month residency that offers writers the opportunity to find their creative home at Theatre503, developing work and experiencing being at the heart of a new writing theatre. This scheme is designed for writers who have already developed their craft to a high standard but are yet to be professionally produced. The residency will offer writers a seed commission of £2,000 a series of masterclass workshops, peer to peer support, industry connections, R&D processes, dramaturgical support, and opportunities to have work staged.

25 March - Kiln Theatre are looking for a director, producer and/or playwright/dramaturg to join their team as Associate Director (fixed term for 2 years). Depending on the appointment, this role may include directing. You will support Indhu Rubasingham, Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre, in the delivery of the artistic programme, work to increase the number of diverse voices in the programme and under commission, and lead on the mentoring and training of more emerging directors and other theatre artists.

1 April - Looking for a chance to bring your play from page to stage? Pleasance Future's Reading Week submissions are now open - connecting playwrights & audiences, and giving writers the opportunity to hear their scripts brought to life at the Pleasance London.

18 April - BristolArtsAdmin are running a free drop-in session for freelancers and small organisations who need advice or practical help regarding their finances. It will take place at Theatre Bristol’s offices on York Road in Bedminster on Thursday 18th April 2019 from 10am to 5pm.

29 April - The Tron Theatre (Glasgow) offer development time in their Changing House space to one artist each season. This LabWeek is a one-week residency with a £3,000 budget to support the artist in their activities.

End of April - Theatre Bristol are offering help with tickets, travel or accommodation costs (up to £300) for ‘TB Agents’ – Bristol-based artists and producers who want to attend events to soak up new ideas, make contacts and represent the independent sector. Proposals will now be collected at the end of every month starting at the end of April 2019.

3 June - Jerwood's New Work Fund offers £5,000-£25,000 funding for artists, artistic groups and artist-led organisations to undertake the research, development and creation of new work to enable a step-change in their practice and profile.

Directing Articles and Blogs:

Check out our JMK Blog, with posts written by former Award winners and JMK Assistant Director Bursary recipients. They give brilliant advice for directors starting out, as well as an insight into different directors' rehearsal process.

See more theatre without breaking the bank - this blog by Paines Plough lists venues' ticket offers, schemes and deals both in London and regionally.

Some basic top 10 tips in this Guardian article.

Simple points to help for the First Time Director.

Take career tips as suggestions - find your own path and think outside the box.

Putting salaries into perspective.

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

Also remember that you're still a director when working another day job (and that it's ok to have another job!).

This blog on flexible working within the arts.

The British Council's blog has lots of useful articles, such as a list of theatre and dance festivals in 2018, a piece on the pros and cons of being an 'emerging' artist and interviews about the need for better diverse representation of UK artists sharing their work internationally.

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.

"There is no right and wrong, there is only interesting, and less interesting" and 24 other 'rules' from Sam Mendes.

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.

How to make auditions easier from actors' perspective.

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.

The Michael Grandage Company also share weekly Associate Director diaries on their productions, which you can find on the MGCFutures site. These are a useful read to understand how the rehearsal process can work, from first read-through to previews and press night.

Directing Podcasts:

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. Their live Platforms are often uploaded as podcasts, such as this conversation with Roy Alexander Weise (JMK Award winner 2016) and Natasha Gordon on developing and rehearsing Nine Night.

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.

Manchester's Big Theatre Podcast gives you an insight into Manchester's thriving theatre scene. It includes interviews with many of the most exciting people currently working in Manchester, from all parts of the industry. Previews interviewees include Matthew Xia (former Associate Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange) and Chris Lawson (Associate Director at the Oldham Coliseum).

Not a directing specific podcast, but How to Fail interviews creatives such as Pheobe Waller-Bridge and Sebastian Faulks about their failures and how they've made the most of them. Useful for when you need a cheer up.

Useful resources:

Talawa Theatre Company has launched MAKE Online: an online community to give Black British theatre artists ownership and agency of their careers. MAKE Online provides a dedicated virtual space for artists at all stages of their careers to encounter each other and to change the shape of British theatre.

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

Common - works with theatres and arts organisations to eradicate the barriers faced by working-class artists and audiences. They specifically focus on off-stage creatives (like directors) and host events such as common:ground platform discussions at venues across the country.

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).

Venues North have created this Guide to Scratch Nights in the North of England if you're looking for somewhere to show your work (2018/2019).

Theatre Deli London - has launched a membership scheme, giving access to cheaper rehearsal space, free workshops, online resources (including help on ACE applications and producing) and industry events. Cost: £50 per year.

Directors Charitable Foundation - the Foundation's missions are to celebrate the art and craft of directing in all media and to support directors in need. Their Directors' Support Scheme offers financial assistance to working or retired directors and their families with acute needs (e.g. through poverty, old age or ill health). Future Projects include lectures and live events featuring top directors, a History Project, a Blue Plaques scheme, and training initiatives in collaboration with DUK and SDUK. They also run a Directors in Schools scheme, enabling school pupils from deprived backgrounds to receive in-school workshops on film, TV and theatre directing from volunteer directors, who are paid expenses and a small optional fee. If you would like to take part in this impactful and rewarding scheme, you can contact by email.

Awards / Schemes:

RTST - the Royal Theatrical Support Trust's Sir Peter Hall Directors Award 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.

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 Events & Training Resources:

Masterclass, Theatre Royal Haymarket - runs 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. Free for under 3os, over 30s can attend by signing up to their Friends Scheme.

Theatrecraft - the largest non-performance careers fair in London, Theatrecraft is a full day of workshops, advice sessions with industry leaders and Marketplace networking opportunities. Free and open to anyone aged 16-30.

Opportunities Outside of London:

England

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 Directors Group with Salisbury Playhouse.

Bristol Old Vic - their Artistic Development programme, Ferment, runs festivals, retreats and residencies, as well as producing support for projects that really excite them. They are also our partners for delivering the JMK Directors Group for Bristol.

Tobacco Factory Theatres also delivers our JMK Bristol Directors Group and they have an Artist Development programme of masterclasses, scratch nights and residencies.

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

Royal & Derngate, Northampton - in addition to their JMK 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.

Leeds Playhouse (formerly WYP) -  offers extensive artistic development support through their Furnace programme, including scratch nights, summer sublets, trainee director residencies, and hosting our JMK Directors Group.

Birmingham Rep - as well as our JMK Directors Group, they develop new artists, writers and theatre makers through The REP Foundry scheme.

Reading Rep - we are thrilled that Reading Rep has joined us as a partner for our JMK Directors Group.

Theatre Royal, Plymouth - offer an annual Assistant Director opportunity, a paid role with a 9 month attachment (applications open in the summer). 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.

Derby Theatre - upcoming In Good Company opportunities include an artist photoshoot day to help you take high-quality publicity photos, and workshops on producing, money management, social media and building partnerships.

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.

Scotland

Traverse Theatre - host our Edinburgh JMK 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 Citizens - runs various community workshops, projects, CPT and Educational training.

Tron Theatre -  through their Creative programme, artists can become members of their Maker scheme (benefits include networking opportunities, rehearsal space and early booking for their workshops). Tron Creative also run Outside Eyes scratch nights, and have 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.

Wales

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

National Theatre of Wales -  their Creative Development programme includes opportunities for emerging directors, Professional Development Labs, Located Residencies and networking Huddles.

The Other Room, Porter's - recruit a Trainee Director and an Associate Director as part of their Professional Pathways Programme. Must be Welsh / Welsh based theatre directors. 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.

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 -  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. Invitations 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. Application by CV and cover letter to info@kingsheadtheatre.com

New Diorama - dedicated to supporting new theatre companies, the New Diorama runs an extensive artist support programme.

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.

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 August.

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. If invited to a show in good time, a member of the team will try to attend.

Fund your Work

Please note, funding options vary depending on your location, your applicant status (i.e. whether you are an individual/company/charity, etc) and the form of your project. 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 spaces and your local council for space in empty buildings made available to artists.

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

Arts Council Funding - individuals and theatre companies can apply to Project Grants (previously Grants for the Arts). Competition is fierce and you still need to develop other sustainable ways to fund your work - e.g. for Project Grants, at least 10% of the money you're looking to get must come from other sources. ACE have also launched a Developing Your Creative Practice fund (open 4 times a year) that's designed to support individual artists who want to make a step change in their practice - listen to this podcast for more info on this fund. Be sure to also consult ACE's online advice and guidance information sheets before applying.

Check out this article on applying for Arts Council Funding for the first time as an artist.

The British Council has a list of funding if you're looking to work internationally.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust's Churchill Fellowship fund is a travel grant for you to spend up to two months overseas, researching innovative practice on a topic of your choice (open to any career field).

If you're making work in Glasgow or Liverpool that benefits the local community, you can apply to the Awesome Foundation for a £500 grant.

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

Arts Council Ireland has this list of available funding and deadlines.

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

Puppet Animation Scotland have a Creative Fund for Scottish-based artists (over 18) from any creative discipline to explore elements of their creative and technical working practices which relate meaningfully to puppetry, object manipulation, visual theatre and animated film.

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/things you'd like to see on this resources page? Do you have a resource to share? Spot anything we can update? Email Katherine Rigg, our Fundraising and Marketing Administrator, on katherine@jmktrust.org