Five Plays – November 2017 | YV Directors Program

Twice a year we team up five directors from our Directors Program with five different writers and task them with creating five plays, rehearsed and staged over five days with five different casts. The result is Five Plays.

As always, this November saw some amazing collaborations between a host of exciting writing and acting talent working with our five directors, including three Jerwood Assistant Directors who have worked on recent Young Vic productions.

I Have Aids


by Rachel De-Lahay.
Direction Milli Bhatia, with Shane Zaza and Shvorne Marks.




by Charlotte Josephine.
Direction Alasdair Pidsley, with Sean Campion and Sophie Melville.




by Winsome Pinnock.
Direction Nicole Charles, with Estella Daniels and Petra Lang.


Signs / Wonders 


by Katherine Soper.
Direction Anna Poole, with Aoife Duffin and Robyn Addison.




by Phoebe Eclair-Powell.
Direction Natalie Denton, with Gemma Lawrence and Jack Shalloo.

To find out more about the YV Directors Program and how we’re supporting artists of the future head to

All photos by Slav Kirichok.

Anna Poole, Natalie Denton and Nicole Charles are supported through the Jerwood Assistant Directors Program at the Young Vic.

Alasdair Pidsley is supported through the Young Vic Reach Out initiative.

With thanks to Jerwood Charitable Foundation which is dedicated to imaginative and responsible revenue funding of the arts, supporting artists to develop and grow at important stages in their careers. The aim of its funding is to allow artists and arts organisations to thrive; to continue to develop their skills, imagination and creativity with integrity. It works with artists across art forms, from dance and theatre to literature, music and the visual arts.

For more information on Jerwood Charitable Foundation visit:

❄️ Winter is coming | 2018 Genesis Future Directors Award Winner

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It is with great pride that we announce today the recipient of the 2018 Genesis Future Directors Award is John R. Wilkinson. He will direct Winter by Jon Fosse (14 – 24 February 2018). Tickets are now on sale! 

We are thrilled that all performances of Winter will be audio described; visit our access for all page for more information.

by Jon Fosse
Direction John R. Wilkinson

An ordinary businessman meets a volatile stranger in a park. So begins a fugue of splintered desires and mistaken meanings.

An everyday encounter unspools with enduring consequences.

Genesis Award winner John R. Wilkinson directs this riveting and hypnotic play.

When performed at the Young Vic in 2011, Jon Fosse’s I am the Wind was described in the Independent as “Some of the greatest theatre I have ever witnessed”.

For more info and to book tickets:

John R. Wilkinson made his directorial debut in 2013 with Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down (York Theatre Royal).  Dramaturgical credits include: You Have Been Watching (Dark Horse) and To Kill a Mockingbird (York Theatre Royal). He is Associate Artist at York Theatre Royal, being mentored by Third Angel. In 2016 he was co-assistant director to Rufus Norris during a four-day intensive workshop and worked as a Connections Director (National Theatre). He trained at Bretton Hall College.

Established in 2012, the Genesis Future Directors Award was created to nurture emerging directors by providing them with an opportunity to explore and develop their craft while creating their first fully resourced production at the Young Vic, recognised for its engagement with young directors. The Award will provide John R. Wilkinson with mentoring and support from the theatre’s unique creative network, which includes Artistic Director David Lan, Genesis Fellow Gbolahan Obisesan, Lead Producer Daisy Heath and Associate Artistic Director Sue Emmas.

YV Directors Program goes to York

Last month the Young Vic and York Theatre Royal held a workshop for directors and theatre makers who live and work in Yorkshire and the North East, through the Young Vic Directors Program Reach Out scheme. 

Eight young directors who have been making socially responsive theatre met with York Theatre Royal Associate Artist John R. Wilkinson, Sue Emmas, Associate Artistic Director of the Young Vic, and Imogen Brodie, Director of Taking Part at the Young Vic. The session delved into the work of the Young Vic’s Taking Part department and how the theatre engages with schools, colleges, young people and local residents of Lambeth and Southwark. In particular it looked at the past production of Men in Blue, a community response to Blue/Orange which worked with men who had suffered more than one episode of psychosis.

The day started with some classic exercises to get to know the names of everyone in the room, including ball games used in the original Men in Blue workshopsThe morning session largely focused on the work the Taking Part does within it’s communities and what it achieves with it’s community productions. Imogen talked about the process behind developing several Taking Part projects such as Men in Blue and See Me Now.

Also discussed were the ethics of participatory theatre, what we hope to achieve through it, and who it ultimately helps. The directors then completed some of the exercises used within the development of the Men in Blue project. These included writing exercises starting with the sentences ‘A man is’, ‘Today is’ and ‘I am scared of’. The results of the exercises done during the Men in Blue process actually made it in to the script. The group shared both their responses and the responses of the Men in Blue, and interesting example of how much content you can create through a simple exercise.

The afternoon session focused particularly on Men in Blue and the processes, road bumps and troubleshooting that arose within that particular project. Afterwards the directors paired up and came up with their own ideas for participatory theatre that could have been made in response to Blue/Orange. These ideas, or individual ideas that the directors were currently working on, were pitched to Sue and Imogen. They gave advice on the holes and highs within the concepts before the pitches were discussed and dissected by the whole group. This was an invaluable exercise for the participants in developing an idea into a tangible option.

Imogen Brodie’s top tips to working in Participatory Theatre:

• Make friends with partner organisations
• Make a project as flexible as possible to work with the needs of the participants
• Individualise schedules for participants
• Feed people
• Contact people on mobiles
• Be prepared to do a lot of pastoral work
• Be prepared to give a lot of yourself
• Be open to whatever people bring, no matter how odd or off beam it seems
• Get a brilliant creative team who are interested in other people
• Only do this work if you really like people
• Go to them
• Have the same standards and creative ambitions for the work as you would for professional work
• Have a sense of humour
• Remember this is not their job
• Be mindful of language and people’s frame of reference
• Be super organised
• Know what you want people to get out of it and make sure that happens
• Don’t be a dick

Reach Out is a Young Vic Directors Program initiative that runs a range of activities for directors across England who live and work outside London. Some take place at the Young Vic and others are run in association with theatres we are either touring work to or have ongoing relationships with.

Keen to attend a future Reach Out event or interested in joining our Genesis Directors Network? Read all about the Directors Program and the opportunities it offer.

About the Genesis Foundation

The Genesis Foundation has supported the Young Vic for nearly 15 years, including the Young Vic’s director’s program since its inception. The Genesis Foundation is pleased to fund the Genesis Fellow and Genesis Fellow Production Fund, the Genesis Future Directors Awards and the Genesis Directors Network at the Young Vic.

Established by John Studzinski in 2001, the Genesis Foundation works in partnership with the leaders of prestigious UK arts organisations such as LAMDA, the National Theatre, Royal Court, The Sixteen and the Young Vic.  Its largest funding commitment is to programmes that support directors, playwrights, actors and musicians in the early stages of their professional lives.

The theme of art and faith increasingly characterises aspects of the Foundation’s work with choral commissions including James MacMillan’s Stabat mater.






Off Book – a podcast by the Young Vic

Our new podcast series, Off Book, is now available to stream and download from Soundcloud and iTunes.

Each episode will feature an interview with one of the exciting artists who have visited us recently. Our first episode is with legendary director Peter Brook, which was recorded in Feb 2016 whilst Battlefield was on in the Main House.


Our conversations bring to light people’s first experiences with the arts and theatre, how their background has informed the work they produce today and how it has developed throughout their career. Make sure to subscribe on either Soundcloud or iTunes to hear our latest episodes as they’re released.

Ola Ince on Dutchman, race and research

We caught up with Dutchman director, Ola Ince, to discuss how she found Dutchman, why she chose it for the Genesis Future Directors Award and why the play is still so relevant today, over 50 years on from it being written by Amiri Baraka.

Ola shared some of her research with us; the documentaries, videos and articles she explored with the cast and her creative team whilst researching and rehearsing Dutchman. The breadth of research demonstrates how much information goes in to bringing a script to life and the inspiration behind staging the characters and their relationships.

The Sixties – The Years That Shaped a Generation, 2005
Storyville, Black panthers – On BBC iplayer
The African Americans, Many Rivers to Cross, Rise 1940 – 1968
Beat Generation, The Source
Thelonious Monk: Staight No Chaser
Black Power mixtape
Legends, The Motown Invasion
White people, MTV

Amiri Baraka

New York Underground, 1960’s archive footage


Cartoons – for Clay’s attraction to Lula


Dutchman runs at the Young Vic until 16 April:
Find out more about the Genesis Future Directors Award on the Young Vic Directors Program.

The least we can do is know what happened

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joe Wright and Davin Lan visit the Yole Africa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joe Wright and Davin Lan visit the Yole Africa Centre in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

When David Lan first suggested I read A Season In The Congo I barely recognised the name of Patrice Lumumba. I vaguely remembered my South African father and his self-exiled friends mentioning him when I was a child. I didn’t know then that the rubber tyres of the bike I rode, or the copper in the cable that dispelled the darkness, or, as I grew, the uranium in the bomb I marched against or the coltan in the phone I prized or the diamond I declared my love with, I didn’t know that all these things that I took for granted as my right on the path to manhood were at the price of the right of the Congolese people to be truly independent, to escape poverty and conflict. And it was for that independence that Patrice Lumumba, and countless others, had died.

This play is not about race, it is not about racism or even colonialism as we imagine it, something of the past dressed in white linen; it’s about how the injustices of the past have shaped the injustices of the present, how economic colonialism is still being perpetrated today by a different cast of politicians, nations and corporations. The DRC’s curse is not its poverty but its wealth.

When David, Chiwetel and I travelled to the DRC with Oxfam, what first struck me was the violent contrast between the abundance of its natural resources and the deprivation of its people. It is a country nearly the size of Western Europe, where the land is so fertile it produces three crops of beans a year, and yet its level of malnutrition is the highest in the world. If all of the DRC’s arable land was cultivated it could produce enough food to feed the entire continent of Africa. But the land and the wealth of the Congo doesn’t belong to ordinary Congolese people. That’s what Patrice Lumumba was fighting for and that’s what the post-colonial western alliance killed him for. Lumumba wanted political, cultural and economic independence, but the governments we elected and industrialists we supported wouldn’t stand for that kind of loss to their coffers; they accused him of threatening our ‘way of life’, conspired to murder him, and dissolved his body in acid.

Looking back on our trip what I most remember now are the faces of the Congolese people we met: the women’s rights activist who, aware of the mortal danger she faced, publicly denounced a local warlord for ordering his soldiers to use rape as a weapon of war; the heavy brow of the elderly social anthropologist who’d spent a lifetime trying to make sense of the anarchy (as a teenager I thought anarchy was cool). The gentle smile of the young politician who, in the grubby parliamentary canteen, refused to believe that it wasn’t possible to eradicate corruption. The look of shock that still seemed to haunt Pauline Lumumba’s eyes. The children’s faces, thousands and thousands and thousands of them, lost, abandoned and forced to fend for themselves in the cruelest circumstances.

No-one knows how many people live in the DRC, no-one knows how many children there are or how many of them can read or write. No-one knows how many women are victim to sexual violence or how many families have been dispossessed by the fighting. But one thing I do know now that I didn’t when David suggested I read this play is this, that we are all complicit. The least we can do is know what happened.

A Season in the Congo is on at the Young Vic until 17 August, 2013. Book tickets at or call 02079222922.

David, Chiwetel and Joe travelled to the DRC with Oxfam. For more info on their work in the DRC, visit

Working with our Future

A few times a year, Young Vic’s Taking Part department produces parallel productions for and with young people in Lambeth and Southwark. These parallel productions are productions inspired by what is playing in our Main House, The Maria and The Clare theatres.  For more information on Taking Part please see

Hi! My name is Roy Alexander Weise and I’m a graduating Director from BA Hons Directing at Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance. I’ve recently just finished a four-week placement with the Young Vic Taking Part department. I was assistant director to Rikki Henry on the parallel production of Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol. As well as my own professional development as a writer and director I am very concerned with the development of Britain’s future artists. This project was a perfect opportunity to build on my skill as a youth facilitator and director of youth theatre as the project intake was for 14-22 year olds from the surrounding boroughs.

Each day began with chatter, the latest Tinie Tempah song being chanted in the rehearsal room, the latest gossip from Eastenders, all sorts; typical of young people, right? But these young people were not your average…they were extraordinary. They were undertaking the task of performing a famous Russian satire about hypocrisy, about lies, a play that makes a direct statement about hierarchy and democracy. They may not have been aware of the stakes but they knew what the play was about and what the knew what they wanted to do to their audience. “Who’s taking the audience?” bellows one participant, “We are!” reply the rest of the cast. What a delight to know that these young people are learning to take heed to politics and at the same time experiencing working in a professional venue.

The Young Vic is a venue that thinks about its audience as much as its artistic policy. This to me is like holding pure gold itself. To be able to create an environment where you would have some of the most established artists in the industry and young people who have never worked on such projects working in the same building is such an achievement. The young actors worked under the same conditions as professional actors with full-day rehearsals, stage managers and technical crew. They were able to experience the pressure of putting on a theatre production in an established venue. There wasn’t any concern about how good or bad their acting was, nor was there any concern about who came to see their work; it was about the process, about the experience that they had, about the outcomes, how they grew as young people, about being enlightened personally, socially and politically.

This is bedazzling! This showed me that there are still people in the industry who say “YES!” just because you want to give it a go. You don’t have to be an established artist to get involved with work in high-profile venues such as The Young Vic. You just have to want to do it, you have to be willing to commit, willing to learn, willing to leave your comfort zone and take a peek at what is around you, should you want to see it or experience it.

The cast of Government Inspector - parallel production

Most of these young people had never had contact with the Young Vic and some hadn’t even done much drama. It was surprising to see how talented they all were. And also very surprising to see how many of them were beginning to consider careers as actors, writers and directors. Many of them sought advise from me as an emerging artist. I was able to provide first hand experience about auditioning, the difficulty that some might confront during their lives at drama school and what things might be like after – which I am yet to find out. Being around them was like a month-long Tai Chi inhalation of motivation, strength, fun and exuberance.

I hope that this is the beginning of a relationship which where I can continue to be a part of such empowering projects. Young Vic Rocks and Rules!

The parallel production of Government Inspector took place in April. Government Inspector in the Main House begins on 3 June.