Why should a young person apply to the Young Directors Training Programme?

Applying to the Young Directors Training Programme with StoneCrabs Theatre Company has completely changed my life. As an aspiring Theatre Director, I felt this opportunity was not to be missed, and exactly a year on after I applied I know I could not have been more right.

The programme itself is nurturing, welcoming and, crucially, it facilitates you to get out of it as much as you put in. I imagine every year the programme must feel completely different because the participants make the programme what it is. In my experience, I have made some friends for life and a solid network of young creatives to start my career with.

StoneCrabs Young Directors Festival: 'Luna Park' directed by Hattie Coupe

StoneCrabs Young Directors Festival: ‘Luna Park’ directed by Hattie Coupe

What can be guaranteed is that you will be working with a group of people who have been individually selected for their work ethic, enthusiasm and skills. It is up to you to find out each other’s strengths and work as a company in order to produce the Young Directors Festival, which is such an exciting feature of the training programme. You are pushed to work efficiently within a strict time and financial budget. These kinds of challenges expose our unknown strengths and weaknesses – an invaluable process in order to grow as people as well as theatre makers.

The play, which I chose to direct for the Young Directors Festival 2014 called Luna Park, was selected with one other play, The Man Who (dir. Ellie Chadwick), to be taken for further development and presented as a double bill at Canada Water Culture Space. It was an amazing experience to see how our work could transfer from one venue to another and the opportunities and limitations of the touring process.

StoneCrabs Young Directors Festival: 'Luna Park' directed by Hattie Coupe

StoneCrabs Young Directors Festival: ‘Luna Park’ directed by Hattie Coupe

A month or so after the training programme had finished; I was awarded the Young Director Award from the Equity Foundation in the form of paid employment as an Assistant Director.

I feel I have had such a successful year with StoneCrabs Theatre Company and I could not have asked for a more supportive start to my chosen career path, unfortunately a rarity for young people today. It is an infuriating position to be in; knowing you want to work as a Theatre Director but not being able to see how you can do it, never mind trying to explain your plan to your friends or family. StoneCrabs Theatre Company have given me the space to train and experiment as an artist which have in turn exposed me to opportunities that I would not have even known about if I never applied. My advice is to apply, and be persistent in chasing your aspirations, as it could be the difference between achieving them or not.

Hattie Coupe

Hattie Coupe

 

Hattie Coupe

StoneCrabs Young Director 2014

This years StoneCrabs Young Directors Programme is now open. Click here for more information and to apply. 

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Creating Space for Young Directors

After finishing university I moved home to South East London and got a place on the StoneCrabs Young Directors Program in 2011, something that I am incredibly grateful for. I then went on to successfully gain support from the John Fernald Award, which allowed me to continue my training with StoneCrabs and join multiple productions as an Assistant Director. I have since gone on to get paid employment as an Assistant Director as well as directing my own projects.

I really think that programs for directors, like StoneCrabs’, are so important for the ecology of performing arts in this country. If you look at acting for example, there are hundreds of ways for actors to train and systems in place to help actors to grow as artists. From an early age there are clubs and summer camps and youth theatres to help teach actors the skills of their craft.

Asphalt Kiss ' at The New Diorama Theatre - Director Franko Figueiredo, Assistant Director Ferghal Crowley

Asphalt Kiss ‘ at The New Diorama Theatre – Director Franko Figueiredo, Assistant Director Ferghal Crowley

But the same does not widely exist to help directors. I know of two regional theatre companies which last month advertised training positions for directors; the first had 200 applicants per place and the second had had over 160 per place. This clearly shows that there is a huge demand for director training but that there are a precious few places to support a healthy pool of emerging directing talent. Where the StoneCrabs program was key was that it combined the skills of directing with the logistics of producing; all the ingredients of being a theatre-maker.

It is now two years exactly since I completed the Young Directors Program, which for me culminated with a staged reading of Simon Stephens’ “County Music”. The program was a perfect introduction to the art of directing, but it was only an introduction. The past two years have been as valuable as the first few months for me learning about what it is to work with actors and how to tell a good story in a theatrical way.

Currently I am very interested in lots of Chinese plays and aim to direct perhaps one or two in the not too distant future. Having lived and worked in Beijing, I really want to bring out a side of China we just never see in the news.

'Country Music' by Simon Stephens directed by Ferghal Crowley at The Albany Theatre

‘Country Music’ by Simon Stephens directed by Ferghal Crowley at The Albany Theatre

StoneCrabs is a great company for bringing diverse and unseen work into the UK and I think there is a real appetite for international work in London.

For any directors that are in the early stages of their career, there are a few websites that should become essential viewing for opportunities and ways of meeting people in a similar position to you.  Ideastap (www.ideastap.com) has regular “briefs” that can be applied for as well as the Ideastap Spa which offers workshops and seminars on all sorts of topics. The Young Vic’s Directors Network (http://directors.youngvic.org/) is one of the best organisations to sign up to as it offers training, networking and also has frequent jobs posted. Get Into Theatre (http://getintotheatre.org/) has some very good general information as well as lots of opportunities for people interested in working in theatre. And I also really like going to some of the Platform discussions at the National Theatre (www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/) where you can hear a bit more about a show’s creative team and where their ideas came from.
Ferghal Crowley
Associate Assistant Director
StoneCrabs Theatre Company