There are plenty of opportunities out there for young theatre-makers. Several theatres run writing programmes, there is a long list of acting courses helping young upcoming actors, and lots of theatres offer internships or apprenticeships for backstage enthusiasts. But what is there for young directors?
The fact is, very little. Where there are plenty of courses supporting other creatives, being a young director trying to make it seems like a long, lonely journey with no clear path ahead. How do you find work? Where can you showcase your skills? How do you get people to fund you with little experience? And if you are lucky enough to get a job, a bunch of actors trusting you and a pot full of gold, how on earth do you get your vision across and get something out of your actors?
For me, being a young director in London is probably one of the most terrifying things I could ever put myself through. Feeling just a tad lost in a hurricane of opportunities and competition, I find it very hard to figure out where to start and how to go about it. The National seems like a fortress locked to me for the moment, and even fringe venues seem to exist in another dimension. Fortunately I’ve been lucky enough to be accepted on a Young Directors’ Programme, led by StoneCrabs Theatre Company, the only training programme in London for young directors where you work on the craft, learn the techniques for rehearsals, and learn how to fund your project, spam the press and network like your life depends on it (which it kind of does).
Of course there are many roads to Rome. Some people go through university, others do assistant directing. Some have a famous parent, an important boyfriend or perhaps a rich uncle somewhere up the ladder. However, trying to fight your way to create a show might be less terrifying and confusing if you get some help along the way.
Training as a young director gives you insight into the many ways of working in this business. It’s a valuable lesson observing others and their techniques, but in the end you have to find and discover your own voice and which techniques work best for you. When you train, you get the tools to help you throughout your career – just like an actor at drama school or a technician studying their craft.
StoneCrabs Theatre’s Young Directors’ Programme culminates in a Young Directors’ Festival at the Albany in February 2014. Until then, nine young directors are working on their skills and learning the craft to take them further into their careers. So if you want to be a director but feel slightly lost – not to worry. I and the eight others will share our experience with A Younger Theatre over the coming weeks, and will hopefully inspire you in your path towards being a director.