The Old Vic New Voices programme gives some tips on how to get into directing
One of the most frustrating things about trying to forge a career in theatre is the fact there is no 'milkround' to give you the opportunities to make your career work; friends in other industries can do applications en masse, knowing that the law of averages must get them a few interviews and, sooner or later, a job. In theatre, however, it is sometimes not the law of averages but the law of luck that prevails. However hard you work, and however good you are, the industry and those that run it can from the outside often appear capricious. In the face of this it is essential to remain optimistic and, crucially, proactive. Keep on going out to events seeing theatre and take advantage of networking opportunities to forge new relationships with like minded people.
Finding out about a new scheme, opportunity or resource always elicits the same response - why didn't I know about this before? The theatre industry, for all its manic marketing when it has a show to sell, is woefully bad at letting people know how to enter its doors.
Which is why Old Vic New Voices has brought together this document, covering as many of the opportunities, workshops, seminars, groups, forums, training courses and showcases as we could find. Just two restrictions limited our search: we have only included information about Greater London, and have excluded full time training courses for all disciplines, as we felt these are well enough known and marketed - on the other hand we have included some workshops and short term courses that offer a more targeted refresher or session on a particular area or subject.
This is intended to be a work in progress, and we are always interested to hear more about opportunities that we may have missed, or that spring up later. We know this may not be an exhaustive list, but it will hopefully prove useful in being a springboard, either as a starting point for further research or in providing the information to allow practitioners to go out and start forming productive relationships, and allowing them to be proactive about their careers.
As one of our associate member actors said, "getting theatre off the ground is difficult at the best of times but when you are young and unknown it is even harder to get support."
The opportunity to hone your skills as a director is not one to be passed up; workshops and other forms of further training may be expensive, but they can offer invaluable insights into the craft of directing as well as being an opportunity to pick other people's brains and make new relationships with theatre professionals.
The Genesis Project at The Young Vic is an initiative that covers almost all of the needs of young directors setting out on their careers. The Directors' Network offers its members the chance to take part in workshops and training sessions, receive free or subsidised tickets to Young Vic shows and make use of the theatre's stage space for readings. The Project also offers support to selected directors during their rehearsal process, employs assistant directors for each of their main stage productions, and facilitates collaborations between young directors and designers.
Living Productions theatre company runs courses for directors covering areas of technique and method, and the work and theory of specific practitioners. Previous courses have centred around the role of the director in the devising process, the work of Stanislavski and the methods and exercises used by the course tutors in their own work.
RADA runs 'How to Rehearse', a two-week intensive course for six selected directors. The focus of the course is shaping rehearsals and how to work with actors to discover the meaning and structure of a play.
StoneCrabs run a young directors' programme of practical work and tutorials aimed towards development and exploration of the art of directing, through a variety of theatrical modes and traditions. The course includes one-on-one career counselling and mentoring with a professional director.
Operating Theatre Company run yearly or twice yearly directing courses with a variety of formats, ranging from intensive weeks focussing on individual aspects of direction, to development and support courses spanning four or five months. They also run new writing events and stage debut productions of plays.
Zeitgeist Theatre is a company producing scratch performances of political, immediately topical theatre in fringe venues around London. A selected writer and director choose an issue to explore; the writer then has one month to create a short play to be taken on by the director. Directors, writers and actors with proven experience and/or training should send a CV, covering letter, two email addresses for references and a short note on availability to:
The Factory UK is a collaborative company running sessions for actors, writers and directors, in which weekly rehearsals are an open forum for discussion and experimentation, usually leading up to a final performance with a rotating cast. For more information contact:
ATTACHMENTS AND RESIDENCIES
Many theatres offer either assistant director attachments or residencies for a specified period of time, usually allowing the candidate to pursue their own projects alongside assisting on productions at the theatre.
The National Theatre Studio young directors' programme takes place annually, and runs for three weeks in March. The programme takes on approximately 14 emerging directors each year, who are invited to the Studio to participate in workshops, masterclasses and seminars with a range of theatre practitioners.
Also on offer are Director Weeks, in which six young directors who are proving themselves in London fringe venues, regional theatres, or studio spaces are given a week in the NT Studio. Finally, the Studio aims to have at least two directors resident at the Studio under bursary schemes, to cast readings, and to feed into the programme of work: one for a whole year and one for six months.
Anyone interested in being considered should be in touch when they have work to see, enclosing details of the show and a CV. This information should be sent to: Natasha Bucknor, Studio Manager, at National Theatre Studio, Kennington Park, 2nd Floor, Chester House, 1-3 Brixton Road, London SW9 6DE.
The Donmar and the Finborough both offer resident Assistant Director bursary schemes lasting one year, allowing a young director to work alongside the principal director on all of the in house productions.
The King's Head Theatre in Islington offers six-month Assistant Director placements. Although unpaid, they give their candidates the chance to collaborate on shows at the theatre as an assistant and in some cases direct their own show. For more information contact:
There are a few awards open to directors, whether they take the form of sources of funding or a space in which to stage a production.
The Jerwood Award is awarded in association with the Young Vic to two young professional directors, allowing them to make work for the smallest of the Young Vic's spaces, The Clare. Since its creation in 2001 the Jerwood Award at the Young Vic has supported 18 directors at various stages of their career.
The JMK Theatre Award is presented each year to a director under 30, and funds the costs of a London production, including theatre space for a three or four week run, as well as resources and professional support.
Support and Industry Representation is offered by The Directors' Guild of Great Britain, which represents both theatre and film directors and works to provide training and employment initiatives for them.