We’re thrilled to have launched the JMK Bob Carlton Bursary – this opportunity funds an assistant director bursary at Birmingham Rep. We are delighted that Bob’s family have chosen to fund an assistant director bursary in his memory in partnership with JMK.
Bob Carlton was a writer and director who shared Dennis Potter’s faith in the power of popular song within drama, most famously expressed in his show Return to the Forbidden Planet, which won the Olivier award for best new musical in 1989. Billed as “Shakespeare’s forgotten rock’n’roll masterpiece”, it grafted nearly 30 great hits on to plot and dialogue based on The Tempest.
As a young director he cut his teeth at Coventry, Lancaster and the York Theatre Royal, before taking over the London Bubble theatre, which toured the outer boroughs in a tent, offering productions aimed at younger audiences and non-theatregoers.
There he wrote Return to the Forbidden Planet, pioneering the actor/musician show. There were London runs in 1992 for From a Jack to a King (based on Macbeth) and in 1993 for Lust, a Heather Brothers musical based on Wycherley’s The Country Wife.
Bob’s commitment to popular theatre resumed at the Queen’s theatre, Hornchurch, east London, which he ran from 1997 to 2014, winning improved backing from the Arts Council, the local authority and audiences, retaining Shakespeare, Brecht and pop music as his guides. A lifelong socialist, he believed that the theatre should be accessible in all ways.
JMK Bob Carlton Bursary:
The first JMK Bob Carlton bursary in partnership with Birmingham Repertory Theatre was awarded to Will Ashford, who assisted Roxana Silbert on A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, adapted by Ursula Rani Sarma.
Further JMK Bob Carlton bursary opportunities will be announced in due course.