Cleary’s directing credits include Appointment in Limbo at Dublin Fringe and The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Town Hall, Galway. He assisted previous JMK Award winner Joe Hill-Gibbins on The Beauty Queen of Leenane which is currently touring Ireland and the UK before returning to the Young Vic in July and Polly Findlay on Roald Dahl’s Twisted Tales at the Lyric Hammersmith.
Speaking about the award Cleary said: "Winning the JMK Award has allowed me to work on a play that I feel very passionately about, with an incredibly talented group of people and in one of the most exciting and progessive theatres in London. This simply wouldn’t be possible without the support of the trust. For this rare and unique opportunity I feel hugely privileged and thankful.”
Now in its 14th year the James Menzies-Kitchin Young Director Award is awarded annually to an outstanding young theatre director. It combines prestige with the practical benefits of a production budget and rehearsal and production experience.
Previous winners and runners up have included Mark Rosenblatt, Josie Rourke, Thea Sharrock, Orla O’Loughlin, Bijan Sheibani, Charlotte Westenra, Natalie Abrahami, Polly Findlay and Carrie Cracknell.
This year the award also moves host venues from the BAC to the Young Vic. The theatre's artistic director David Lan said of the move: "During its happy 13 year life at BAC, the JMK Award, in its innovative and distinctive way, found and backed some of the most original directors now working. We're delighted to give it a home alongside other programmes we host such as the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme, our own Directors Program and the Genesis Directors Network.”