JMK Award Partners with the Orange Tree Theatre

11 December 2018

From 2019 the JMK Award will enter a new partnership with the Orange Tree Theatre, with the winner’s production forming a core part of the theatre’s annual programming. At this new home, the JMK Award will offer one director the opportunity to direct a full-scale Orange Tree show with the production values and nurturing guidance the building is famous for. The JMK Award, which had previously been resident at the Young Vic for seven years, forms part of the national programme for the The JMK Trust, running alongside the Regional Directors Programme.


The JMK Trust was founded in memory of James Menzies-Kitchin, a young director of great promise who died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 28, to give opportunities to theatre directors of similar ability and vision. Each year it gives one prestigious award to enable an outstanding applicant aged 35 or under to create their own production of their choice of classic text. Its intensive development and selection process has itself given powerful impetus to the best theatre practitioners of the future. Previous winners have become major players in British theatre, including Thea Sharrock, Orla O’Loughlin, Bijan Sheibani, Joe Hill-Gibbins, Natalie Abrahami, Roy Alexander Weise and Polly Findlay.

The expanding Regional Directors Programme provides year-round training, mentoring, bursaries and support for directors of all ages. The current partners in the programme are Bristol Old Vic, Tobacco Factory Theatres, HOME in Manchester, Royal and Derngate Northampton, Salisbury Playhouse, Traverse Edinburgh, Birmingham Rep, Northern Stage, Nuffield Theatres Southampton, Reading Rep, Sherman Cymru and Leeds Playhouse. The programme at each partner venue is run by the JMK Trust’s five 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. An essential network seeking talent from across the UK, the Programme feeds into the JMK Award, enabling a truly national reach.

Stephen Fewell, Chair of the JMK Trust, said today, “The Orange Tree has a longstanding commitment to developing directing talent - it's part of the building's DNA, so we are thrilled that together we are able to announce a new and unique opportunity for early career directors.

In the current climate, we believe the Orange Tree offers a precious combination of security and intimacy so important to the nurturing of developing artists. The work it programs represents many differing voices, attracting and exciting new audiences, in a way that we hope will both inspire and give a platform to a generation of theatre makers right across the country. It’s testament to our previous hosts the Young Vic that the JMK Award production is now considered alongside other major London openings, and we are grateful to them for their commitment to all the remarkable theatre directors we have supported together.

The fact we can share this opportunity is thanks to the Orange Tree's real insight into that combination of bravery, rigour, faith and enthusiasm all theatre emerges from. With Paul, I can't wait to begin the search for the next JMK Award director, and see what they might achieve in the unique environment of the actor-centric Orange Tree space. It's going to be a phenomenal learning opportunity, and one we hope every young theatre director will feel is accessible to them.”

Paul Miller, Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre commented, “The JMK Award is the most prestigious young director’s award in the UK, and we’re honoured to partner with the JMK Trust to produce the winning show at the Orange Tree at the centre of our programme from 2019 onwards. The ethos of the JMK Award, and its commitment to nurturing emerging talent, is very much at the heart of what the OT is all about, and we look forward to supporting, enabling and celebrating the new directors we welcome here.”

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director Young Vic, says: “The Young Vic has been honoured to work with the JMK Trust for seven years, with many talented directors including Roy Alexander Weise, Liz Stevenson and Kate Hewitt – who will direct Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train on our main stage in Spring 2019 – using the opportunity to take their career to the next level. We wish our friends and colleagues at both the JMK Trust and the Orange Tree the very best as they continue on this exciting journey.”

For full details of how to apply for the JMK Award, click here

The list of plays for candidates to choose from will be released before Christmas and the first round deadline for applications will be 30 January 2019.

The JMK Trust is supported by Philip Hooker, the Martin Bowley Charitable Trust, the Carne Trust, The Leverhulme Trust, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Arts Council England and other individual donors.

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