At the Young Vic we tell stories that change the way people look at the world.
Conceived in the 1960s’ spirit of iconoclasm and improvisation, the Young Vic opened in 1970 as a place in which young directors, designers, actors, writers and technicians could work alongside the world’s great theatre artists to present exciting productions at the lowest possible seat prices.
Over the last forty years, the Young Vic has established a powerful reputation at home and abroad. In particular, it’s been recognised as the major theatre in this country in which young directors can develop and practise their art.
The Genesis Foundation has supported the Young Vic for over ten years and currently funds the two-year Genesis Fellowship, the Genesis Directors Network, the Genesis Future Directors Award and the Genesis Fellow Production Fund at the Young Vic.
The current Genesis Fellow at the Young Vic is the theatre director and playwright Gbolahan Obisesan. Gbolahan began his role in September 2015, following in the footsteps of Natalie Abrahami, who previously held the post since 2013, and is the fourth Genesis Fellow to be supported and funded by the Genesis Foundation. Former Genesis Fellows include Carrie Cracknell (2012–2013) and Joe Hill-Gibbins (2010–2011).
The Genesis Fellowship is a two-year grant that enables its recipient to work closely with artistic director David Lan as they continue to develop their craft as a theatre director.
Watch our short film to find out more about the Genesis Fellowship.
John Studzinski, Founder & Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, said:
“The Genesis Fellowship at the Young Vic is one of the most respected and coveted awards offered to a young theatre director. To work closely with David Lan for two years, not only directing his own show but also being part of the theatre’s programming and artistic planning teams, is an experience that will enrich and challenge Gbolahan Obilsesan’s artistic vision in ways that will stay with him for their rest of his life. I’m delighted to welcome Gbolahan as the latest Genesis Fellow as he follows in the footsteps of previous Genesis Fellows Natalie Abrahami, Carrie Cracknell, and Joe Hill-Gibbins, whose achievements make us at the Genesis Foundation deeply proud of our collaboration with David.”
Genesis Fellow Production Fund
The Genesis Fellow Production Fund is a new addition to the Genesis Foundation and Young Vic’s long standing partnership. Whilst the Genesis Future Directors scheme challenges young directors to take the next steps in discovering themselves as theatre artists, the support of the Genesis Fellow Production Fund contributes towards the research, workshopping and staging costs required over the Fellow’s two year position, enabling them to work in the best possible conditions, supported by the whole of the Young Vic team.
Formed in 2004 as part of the Genesis Foundation’s involvement with the Young Vic, the Genesis Directors Network is an online area that has since become an invaluable forum for members of the Directors Programme to share their experiences and seek advice.
Directing can be lonely – particularly in the early stages of a career – and the network encourages a sense of community and peer support amongst its members. It is also an area where they can find information about current activities, opportunities and special ticket offers at the Young Vic.
Independent producers, theatre companies and writers often use the network as a way to find directors for their projects. Theatres – including the Lyric Hammersmith, the Globe and Cheek by Jowl – circulate special offers for free or discounted tickets to shows and events. Annual opportunities such as bursaries, traineeships and masterclasses are also publicised through the network.
The Genesis Directors Network currently consists of over 1,000 members, with more people joining all the time.
Genesis Future Directors Award
The Genesis Future Directors Award nurtures and develops emerging young directors by providing them with an invaluable opportunity to explore and develop their craft while creating their first fully resourced production at the Young Vic without the scrutiny of the media. John Wilkinson becomes the tenth recipient of the award in 2018 and will be supported by David Lan and incoming artistic director of the Young Vic Kwame Kwei-Armah. He will direct Winter in February 2018 in The Clare.
Lucy J Skilbeck and Nancy Medina, 2016’s joint recipients of the award, were supported and mentored by the theatre’s unique creative network, including Artistic Director David Lan and the Genesis Fellow, Gbolahan Obisesan. Lucy directed The Bear / The Proposal by Checkhov to outstanding critical acclaim, whilst Nancy Medina directed the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Yellowman in December 2017.
Recipients of a Genesis Future Directors Award include John Wilkinson (2018), Lucy Skilbeck and Nancy Medina (2017), Ola Ince (2016), Bryony Shanahan (2016), Rikki Henry (2015) Finn Beames (2014), Tinuke Craig (2014), Matthew Xia (2013) and Ben Kidd (2012).
Watch our short film to find out more about the Genesis Future Directors Award.
Off Book, The Young Vic theatre’s podcast series
The Young Vic theatre’s recently launched podcast series, Off Book, features interviews with many of the exciting artists who have visited the theatre recently, including several Genesis supported directors. The conversations that make up the podcasts bring to light people’s first experiences with the arts and theatre, how their background has informed the work they produce today and how they have developed throughout their career.
Genesis Directors Programme: 2003 – 2009
From 2003 to 2009, the Genesis Foundation supported the Young Vic in creating a programme for emerging directors. This was, and remains to this day, a pioneering initiative with few precedents around the world. A number of alumni from the programme have gone on to produce award-winning work.
The team at the Young Vic, led by Artistic Director David Lan, has made young directors a priority at the company. The Genesis Foundation’s contribution enabled the Young Vic to develop a programme which gave young directors a rounded, varied and multi-layered training. The aim was that they should emerge from the programme technically confident, grounded in their craft and able to realise their creative vision. Through workshops, the programme also developed talented young actors, designers, and other technical specialists.
Projects made possible since 2003 by the support of the Genesis Foundation include:
- Workshops in both the studio and on the main stage, led by Young Vic Artistic Director David Lan, Associate Director Rufus Norris and directors such as Irina Brown, and Gregory Thompson
- Process work in the studio space to give young directors a supportive environment for theatrical experimentation
- Director/designer/choreographer/dramaturg evenings
- Choreographic workshops for young directors
- Stagecraft workshops to study stage blocking
- Evenings in which 20 young directors created 5-10 minute responses to the events in Iraq
The programme also offered opportunities for young directors to attend performances and to become assistants at various levels in all the major Young Vic productions.
Genesis Directors, along with other young theatre professionals involved with the programme, have contributed to major Young Vic productions such as Peribanez by Lope de Vega and the new adaptation of Hobson’s Choice; these were both sell-out shows in London and Hobson’s Choice also toured. During the Young Vic’s closure for rebuilding and refurbishment (2004-2006), the young directors were able to mount seasons in ‘off-West End’ venues, and were also involved with productions in theatres such as the Lyric, Hammersmith and the Barbican. Directors of the stature of Peter Brook and Richard Jones have also been involved with the programme.
For the latest news on the Genesis Foundation’s partnership with the Young Vic, click here.