The YEP Directors Festival returns to the Everyman for the third year this June, showcasing the work of six young up-and-coming theatre makers at the end of the first year of their two year course.
Tickets are free but must be booked in advance, and the plays span a variety of regional and national modern writing. Each director has been paired up with a contemporary from the YEP Producers course, to ensure the practical side of the project is taken care of. Aside from that pairing, the director has been free to cast any actors of their choosing – not just fellow members of YEP. Although these are public performances, critics are banned (consider us told), to help foster a supportive environment that allows the directors to create their best work.
Here’s a quick guide to the festival’s plays and the names you might be hearing more of in future.
Kicking the festival off on June 6 and 7, Julia Carstairs is directing Lucy Prebble’s The Effect. “It just spoke to me,” she said. “I think selecting the right play was one of the most difficult parts of this process. You want the play to matter on a personal level but also to be relevant to your audience. Combine an inspiring play, with a fantastically talented cast who care about the words just as much as you do…and voila, you have the ultimate directing process. I have complete faith in my team, and I just hope this play helps open the audience’s eyes, just like it did mine.”
YEP producer Siofra McKeon-Carter said: “Julia has a brilliant vision for The Effect and has allowed me to have a great amount of creative input on the project. So far, it has been a really interesting and insightful process.”
On June 8 and 9, Formby-based Alex Medlicott is at the helm of a new production of Robert Farquhar’s God’s Official. He said: “The ethos here is get out there and do it, and learn from each other; and the people we have been able to meet and learn from, you just don’t get that opportunity – I’ve directed things before, but not on this scale. The beauty of this festival is that it is a testing ground. I’m feeling the pressure, but I’m more excited than anything.”
Producer Ali Michael added: “The Directors Festival is an opportunity to be a solo producer paired with a director from the start of a project and that’s an enlightening experience. It’s really great to be working with a director who has real passion and ambition for the play they’ve chosen; harnessing that for the good of the production is challenging, but very exciting.”
Next up, Sarah Eastaff will be directing Jim Cartwight’s classic Two on June 10 and 11. Currently based Manchester and working in youth theatre, she says: “The course at the Everyman has meant getting lots of support, from meeting established directors to readily available rehearsal space. That’s pretty unique.”
Producer Natasha Patel said: “Being involved with the YEP Producers has been a massive opportunity for me – being able to learn within such a supportive environment has been great! It’s been a pleasure being able to produce the show and I hope the audience have as much fun as I have had bringing it to life.”
Philip Davies was a newcomer to the world of theatre before taking a place on the YEP Directors course. He chose Ella Greenhill’s Plastic Figurines (June 13 and 14) as his play, developing a more cinematic style thanks to his passion for film. He said: “There’s always opportunity to do different things, at the Everyman there’s so much variety and I think that’s reflective of this course. I’ve learned so much about theatre and I’m excited for next year.”
His producer Sian Gardner said: “I’m really enjoying working as producer on Plastic Figurines with Phil, we’ve got a great cast and rehearsals have been a lot of fun. We are responsible for the artistic output and the running of the whole process. It’s daunting and exciting all at the same time.”
Catherine Ainsworth is the producer of The Acid Test by Anya Reiss, that will be directed by Jade Thompson on June 15 and 16. Catherine says: “I’m interesting in the personal aspects that made people choose their play, and why it resonated. I’m not from a theatre background so it’s something completely different for me. When we started producing, we were asked ‘what is a producer’ – and it does ring true that it’s about doing the things no-one wants to do! The great thing is there is a lot of responsibility and control given to you, and that freedom is really important. It’s been good for making relationships within the industry and seeing how you want to shape your own career – there’s so many routes to go down.”
Finally, JMU drama graduate Jack Cooper is directing Ella Hickson’s Hot Mess, supported by producer James Ramsden (June 20 and 21). Jack says: “I was looking for a play that was relevant and exciting and that not many people knew –then I could really get to grips with it in my own way. It’s brilliant, it’s been really lovely to have this opportunity to talking about things and find out why we want to be in this game and make what we want to make –it’s a lovely support structure, and to be able to do all this under the Everyman name carries so much weight. Not many theatres offer this, trusting young theatre makers enough to have access to this sort of thing, and it is so important.”
For full details on the festival and to reserve tickets for any of the productions, visit the Everyman’s website.