WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

Why are directing awards so important?

The Genesis Future Directors Award is one of the biggest directing awards in the country. As the deadline for new applications draws near, we ask those involved and past winners why it's such a necessary prize

David Lan, artistic director, Young Vic

We started the awards we run for a simple reason.  It's harder than ever now for younger people, starting out, to find opportunities to direct.  It costs upwards of £15k to pay for the simplest space, with the smallest cast.   So it's always rehearsal time that takes the hit. As a consequence, directors most in need of time to discover who they are as artists are under the greatest time pressure.  It's not showing off, it's not touting for work, it's not proving to your parents you were right not to become an accountant (of course, there's nothing wrong with accountancy) after all.  It's just about learning to make theatre. 

John Studzinski, founder and chairman of the Genesis Foundation

The genesis of The Genesis Foundation's Young Directors programme stemmed from a series of conversations with David Lan about the dearth of on-the-job formal training opportunities for young and or inexperienced theatre directors. There was a void and we filled it with David as our partner. The history and track record speaks for itself.

Ben Kidd, won in 2012 and staged The Shawl

Simply put, the cost of "staging a show" in London, is extremely expensive. I'm not saying that only people with a lot of money lying around can begin careers as directors, but you can see the problem with this model… The award allowed (and demanded) me to create a response to a play that was genuinely personal and not about pleasing anyone else, wholly mine, without commercial pressure, and with open minded and creative stakeholders. That was a huge gift.

Hyemi Shin, designer

It gives a great chance not just for directors but also for young emerging designers like myself – for us to work in a high profile theatre like the Young Vic with full professional support and attention. And it is a valuable opportunity to meet talented young directors and build a director-designer relationship at an early stage.

Finn Beames, won in 2014 and staged Man: Three plays by Tennessee Williams

As a young director, you might have the best, most radical idea in the world, but if you don't get the chance to make it live, to scrutinize it with an audience in a theatre, that idea will just wither or grow obscure. The hardest thing about starting out is the hordes of people who say no - and there's a big shift in what seems possible when a theatre like the Young Vic says yes.

Bryony Shanahan, won in 2016 and will stage trade in November

It's really hard to make that step-up from making your own work with no money on the Fringe, to being in a fully-resourced, supported environment where you can collaborate with a full creative team to push on artistically . Without awards, it would be nearly impossible for buildings to take the risk on someone like me.

Matthew Xia, won in 2013 and staged Sizwe Banzi is Dead

The Genesis Future Directors Award is one of the only alternative routes into directing theatre, and learning about the intricacies of making work in a fairly intensive way. For those without access to funding and financial safety nets they remove the financial burden whilst placing you in a supportive and nurturing environment allowing you to make your very best work.

Tinuke Craig, won in 2014 and staged dirty butterfly

What the Genesis Future Directors Award gave me was the opportunity to put my training into practice, to be able to focus on the craft of directing without having to worry about the production side of things and, crucially, the unique sense of being trusted and believed in by an institution.

Ola Ince, won in 2016 and staged Dutchman

I was given the support and freedom to experiment and take risks with my production, which has given me the confidence to continue to do so. I gained access to phenomenally talented performers, an exceptional creative team, constant mentoring by some of the country's best artists, and resources that would usually be beyond my reach.  The Young Vic literally made my creative dreams come true.

Trade, directed by Genesis Future Directors Award-winner Bryony Shanahan runs at the Young Vic from 16 – 26 November 2016. Click here to find out more about the Genesis Future Directors Award.