JMK Trust announces theatre director & designer prize shortlist

The JMK Trust has announced the shortlist for its JMK Award 2023, celebrating the work of emerging theatre directors and the designers.

The winner of the Prize, who has to be 35 or younger, gets to stage their first full-scale professional production at a London theatre.

The eight shortlisted designers and directors are:

  • Sam Hardie (she/her) with her production of The Girlfriend Experience by Alecky Blythe. Designer: Christine Ting-Huan Urquhart (she/her)
  • Tash Hyman (they/them) with their production ofMidsummer by David Greig & Gordon McIntyre. Designer: Anna Orton (she/her)
  • Leian John-Baptiste (he/him) with his production of Meetings by Mustapha Matura. Designer: Natalie Pryce (she/her)
  • Fay Lomas (she/her) with her production of My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley. Designer: Anna Kezia Williams (she/her)
  • Hana Pascal Keegan (she/her) with her production of My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley. Designer:Georgia de Grey (she/her)
  • Kalungi Ssebandeke (he/him) with his production of Meetings by Mustapha Matura. Designer: Olivia Jamieson (she/her)
  • Sarah Stacey (she/her) with her production of The Girlfriend Experience by Alecky Blythe. Designer: Anna Kelsey (she/her)
  • Laura Wooff (she/her) with her production of Midsummer  byDavid Greig & Gordon McIntyre. Designer: Jen McGinley(she/her)

The Prize will be announced on 21 April 2023, and the production will be staged this Autumn in partnership with the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond.

The 2019 JMK Award was given to Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu to direct their critically acclaimed production of Little Baby Jesus by Arinzé Kene. Last year saw Indiana Lown-Collins directing Jack Thorne’s The Solid Life of Sugar Water.

Stephen Fewell, Chair of the JMK Trust, said in a statement: “Thanks to ongoing, loyal support from our funders, we’re delighted to be announcing a shortlist of eight stunning directors from around the country, and the talented designers they’ve collaborated with. At a time when opportunities are hard to come by for both established and early career artists, we’re facing a considerable challenge in choosing only one team- they are all highly deserving of career success. We hope that by announcing this shortlist, they will attract interest and work opportunities over the coming months. Of course, the winner receives £25,000 towards their production and the valuable support of our host venue The Orange Tree Theatre, who have already supported winners Tristan Fynn- Aiduenu, Diane Page and Indiana Lown-Collins to great success.”

Tom Littler, Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre, said: “This is the Orange Tree’s fourth year hosting the JMK Award, following three outstanding productions: Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu directing Little Baby Jesus by Arinzé Kene; Diane Page directing Statements after an Arrest under the Immorality Act by Athol Fugard; and Indiana Lown-Collins directing The Solid Life of Sugar Water by Jack Thorne. This builds on the OT’s rich 50-year history of working with emerging directors through a succession of innovative programmes. We’re looking forward to discovering the winner of this year’s JMK Award and supporting them to create an equally wonderful production.”

The JMK Trust was founded in memory of James Menzies-Kitchin, a young director who died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 28.

Previous winners of the prize include Thea Sharrock, Orla O’Loughlin, Bijan Sheibani, Joe Hill-Gibbins, Natalie Abrahami, Roy Alexander Weise and Polly Findlay.

Its patrons are Dame Judi Dench, Baroness Howe, Sir Ian McKellen, Tom Morris OBE (Founding Chair) and Clare Menzies-Kitchin MBE, with trustees Stephen Fewell (Chair), Robert Gill (Secretary), Cordelia O’Neill, Lucy Popescu and Jonathan Kemp (Treasurer).

The JMK Trust is supported by the Katie Bradford Arts Trust, the Martin Bowley Charitable Trust, the Victoria Wood Foundation, the Noël Coward Foundation, The Chapman Charitable Trust, Didymus, Philip Hooker, the Thistle Trust, the Unity Theatre Trust, Arts Council England Cultural Recovery fund and the generosity of our patrons and individual donors.

JMK’s National Directors Programme works in partnership with 14 regional theatres, and the programme at each partner venue is run by the JMK’s Director Practitioners who are established, locally-based directors. They curate the programme for their region, working with their nearest partner venues to tailor the work to the needs of local directors providing year-round training, mentoring, bursaries and support for directors of all ages. The current partner theatres are Bristol Old Vic, Tobacco Factory Theatres, HOME in Manchester, Manchester Royal Exchange, Royal and Derngate Northampton, New Vic Stoke, Salisbury Playhouse, MAST Southampton, Traverse Edinburgh, Birmingham Rep, Nottingham Playhouse, Northern Stage, Reading Rep and Leeds Playhouse.

👤 📅23 March 2023

📷 Main photo: JMK Award shortlisted nominees of the 2023 award

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