The prestigious JMK Young Director Award for 2008 has been won by 25-year-old Michael Oakley, whose production of Edward II will now be staged professionally at the BAC.
Oakley, who staged productions of Much Ado About Nothing, The Duchess Of Malfi and Betrayal while at university, was named as this year’s winner at a ceremony held at the National Theatre earlier today. He receives a £12,000 bursary to help stage his “sexy, stylish and provocative” interpretation of Marlowe’s drama.
Oakley commented: “I’m over the moon to have won the award and to be given the opportunity to direct this amazing play. I passionately believe that Edward II is relevant today; it challenges our perceptions of the society we live in. I am lucky the JMK is backing a bold proposal of a classic play. It’s very rare to get that support so early on in your career.”
This is the 10th year of the award given by the JMK Trust, which was created in 1997 following the death of young director James Menzies-Kitchin. In addition to the final award, the trust provides six months of mentored training to a group of eight selected directors, and a development week, run by Step Change, in which all 16 finalists have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals.
Speaking about the aim of the JMK Trust and Young Director Award, Tom Morris, Chair of the JMK Trust and Associate Director at the National Theatre said: “The trust aims to give one opportunity a year to a brilliant young director, for the simple reason that you only learn directing by directing, and no-one will give you a job directing unless they’ve seen your work.”
The list of previous winners over the last decade, described by Morris as “the cream of young talent in British theatre”, shows the JMK Award as a mark of real potential. Previous winners include Artistic Director of the Gate, Natalie Abrahami, Artistic Director of Pantabus Theatre, Orla O’Loughlin, Thea Sharrock, whose West End credits include A Voyage Round My Father and Equus, and Bijan Sheibani, whose production of Gone Too Far! won the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement In An Affiliate Theatre.
Oakley’s production of Edward II will run at the BAC for a four week season from 18 July to 9 August. Runner up Ellen McDougall will be helped to develop her proposal for a staging of Playboy Of The West Indies by The Ian Ritchie Foundation, which has pledged to provide runners up support for the next four years.