Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu wins the 2019 JMK Award

10 May 2019

Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu is the winner of the 2019 JMK Award, this year in a new partnership with the Orange Tree Theatre, with his production of Arinzé Kene’s Little Baby Jesus forming a core part of our annual programming. 

This opportunity provides Tristan with the opportunity to direct a full-scale Orange Tree show with the production values and nurturing guidance the building is famous for. He will work with designer Tara Usher on his production. This year’s runner ups, and the recipients of £2000, are Oscar Toeman and his designer Rebecca Brower in recognition of their effective collaboration on their proposal for The Sugar Syndrome by Lucy Prebble

As a director, 24 year old Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu’s credits include Sweet Like Chocolate (Jack Theatre Studio), Melanin Box Festival (Theatre Peckham), Fresh Direction as part of the Young Vic’s My England, Timbuktu (Theatre Royal Stratford East), and Black Attack (Bush Theatre). As an Assistant Director, his work includes The Brothers Size (Young Vic); Soapbox (Central School of Speech and Drama/Embassy Theatre/Talawa Theatre), and D and Suffocation (Ovalhouse). Tristan is an Associate Creative of Initiative.dkf.

Little Baby Jesus was first performed at Oval House Theatre, London, in May 2011 in a co-production by Oval House, BEcreative and the English Touring Theatre. It is published by Nick Hern books and saw Arinzé Kene win the Most Promising Playwright Award at the Off-West End Theatre Awards.

Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu's production of Little Baby Jesus will open at the Orange Tree in October 2019. Performance dates and booking details will be announced at the end of May. Sign up to receive information

Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu said, “It is a blessing to be given the support and time to mount the professional revival of Arinzé Kene’s play Little Baby Jesus that changed my life. I want people to watch this piece and see that their growing pains can make incredible stories and that there is someone out there desperate to hear them. I thank the JMK Trust and Orange Tree Theatre for investing in my madness. I cannot wait to tear this stage up!”

Stephen Fewell, Chair of the JMK Trust, said today, “It’s a unique privilege to be able to support emerging directors like Tristan. We all know there are so many artists in the theatre industry who deserve to encounter opportunity, but Tristan’s engaging ability and ambition when working with actors make him a more than worthy winner of this year’s JMK Award. In partnership with the Orange Tree Theatre, we’re delighted this year’s JMK Award will give him an unrivalled opportunity; to direct in the main space of an Off-West End theatre.

“We are exceptionally grateful to all our funders, who share our belief that new theatre artists need to encounter support and opportunity if they are to sustain both a career, and themselves. Their financial commitment helps us identify and sustain the creative leaders of the future.

“With his singular energy and flair, Tristan’s forthcoming production of Arinzé Kene’s ‘Little Baby Jesus’ should set the Orange Tree space alight this Autumn.”

Paul Miller, Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre commented, “We are extremely proud to be working with the James Menzies-Kitchin Trust for the first time this year, producing the show chosen as this year’s winner of the JMK Award. The Orange Tree has artist development at the heart of its ideals, and in recent years we have produced work by many exemplary emerging directors such as Ned Bennett, Alice Hamilton and Chelsea Walker. Our partnership with the JMK Trust starts a new chapter in this history of director development here at the OT. I have no doubt that this year’s winning director will make great theatre happen in our unique space.”

Numerous directors have trained at the Orange Tree and gone on to become Artistic Directors, including Dominic Hill (Dundee Rep and Citizens Theatre, Glasgow), Sean Holmes (Lyric Hammersmith), Timothy Sheader (Open Air Regent's Park), Rachel Kavanaugh (Birmingham Rep) and Ellie Jones (Southwark Playhouse).

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. 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 National Directors Programme, working in partnership with 12 regional theatres, is an essential network seeking talent from across the UK which feeds into the JMK Award and enables a truly national reach. The current partner theatres 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 JMK Trust is supported by Philip Hooker, the Martin Bowley Charitable Trust, the Directors Charitable Foundation, the Carne Trust, The Leverhulme Trust, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Arts Council England and other individual donors.

Tom Morris OBE (Founding Chair), Dame Judi Dench, Baroness Howe and Sir Ian McKellen.

Michael Buffong, Stephen Fewell (Chair), Robert Gill (Secretary), Clare Menzies-Kitchin MBE, Rachael Palmer, Lucy Popescu, Ben Power and Mark Rosenblatt (Vice Chair).

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