The Trustees of the JMK Trust are delighted to announce today that the winner of the 20th anniversary James Menzies-Kitchin Young Director Award is Josh Roche.
Chosen after the now-legendary JMK selection process from another record-breaking number of applicants, Josh will be directing My Name is Rachel Corrie, the celebrated piece of verbatim theatre created from the writings of Corrie herself and co-edited by the late Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner. His production will be staged in the autumn at the Young Vic, with performance dates announced soon. The runner up this year was Nathan Crossan-Smith with a proposal for a production of Debbie Tucker-Green’s random and will receive a £2,000 award.
My Name is Rachel Corrie was first staged to equal acclaim and controversy in 2005 at the Royal Court. Based on the vivid diaries and emails of American peace campaigner Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israeli tank while protecting Palestinian homes from demolition at the age of 23, it was jointly edited by journalist Katherine Viner (now editor-in-chief of The Guardian) and the late Alan Rickman who also directed the original production.
It went on to gather awards and further controversy, particularly in the US, where the premiere was withdrawn after objections were raised about its portrayal of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is a testament to the quality of Rachel Corrie’s skill as a writer and passionate commitment to her cause that this monologue drama has stood the test of time with numerous revivals worldwide since its premiere.
27-year-old Josh Roche has worked as a reader and literary associate of theatres including Shakespeare’s Globe, Soho Theatre and for Sonia Friedman Productions and is founder of Fat Git Productions, discovering new approaches to new writing for the theatre through the commissioning and editing processes. On winning the award, Josh said:
“I’m stunned and delighted to win the JMK award. It’s hard to express quite what it means to me. The chance to direct at the Young Vic is extraordinary in any context, but to be working on this play makes the opportunity even more remarkable. My Name is Rachel Corrie is about the irrepressible political voice of Rachel Corrie, an American activist who was killed in Gaza in 2003. Directing this play as Trump overturns decades of work towards a settlement in Palestine is galling, but proves this is a story worth telling. Rachel Corrie and I were born only ten years apart. Her legacy is our inheritance. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to tell her story on the Young Vic stage, and hugely indebted to the JMK Trust”.
JMK Trust Chair Stephen Fewell commented: “Josh made a highly compelling case for his production of this play. Under his direction, it can speak afresh to a modern audience at a time when ideological convictions are frequently dismissed as naïve or old-fashioned. In the current funding climate, opportunities for young directors to establish their ability, and move from assisting others to independent creative expression are rarer than ever. Since we set up the JMK Trust 20 years ago, the importance of the free-to-access opportunities we offer around the country, opening doors to outstanding theatres like the Young Vic, continues to grow in significance. We believe it’s essential that the theatre industry’s economic success is underpinned by a variety of creative development opportunities. Josh makes a worthy addition to a roll call of unique and diverse theatre directors, whose talent the JMK Award has supported over the years. As with them, it’ll be thrilling to experience his ongoing artistic development”.