The Yard’s home is a converted warehouse in Hackney Wick. Photograph: The Yard

The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick has unveiled a new paid programme for six artists that will pair them up with talent from the stage industry and teach them how to direct a performance.

Live Lab, which kicks off in January, is inviting applications this month from any artist who leads a team in putting on a show for an audience – a deliberately broad definition of ‘directing’ that the venue hopes will encourage people to stretch and challenge themselves.

The announcement follows the theatre’s successful bid to the government and Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund, which saw it receive close to £250,000 to help it survive until it can safely reopen later next year.

The four-month Live Lab will involve weekly masterclasses from renowned industry heavyweights including directors Katie Mitchell and Omar Elerian, and writer and performer Rachael Young.

The six artists will get a bursary of £1,200, as well a week of research and development in April 2021, including a £500 fee, a budget of £1,000, rehearsal space and the opportunity to perform at the Yard.

Director Katie Mitchell said: “I’m really looking forward to teaching on this programme. Now more than ever, it feels important to support and empower artists to develop strong signature work.  

“I’m excited to meet the artists, hear their ideas, and support them in the evolution of their directing careers.”

The successful applicants will also receive one-to-one mentoring from Anthony Simpson-Pike and Cheryl Gallacher, two highly regarded theatre practitioners who can now be publicly unveiled as new associate directors at the Yard.

They will work alongside artistic director Jay Miller to help grow the theatre’s artist development programmes and on other future endeavors.

Miller said he was “thrilled about how they will contribute to the artistic life of the Yard”, and on the Live Lab, added: “To be able to create an opportunity for artists to develop their craft with some of the best in the business, along with a bursary and resource for research and development is very necessary.”

Miller also had some words for the late Howard Davies CBE, pillar of British theatre directing, in whose memory the new Live Lab is taking place.

He said: “We’re honoured to have the support of Howard Davies’ family to deliver this programme.

“When I moved to London after I graduated, the first play I saw was Her Naked Skin in the Olivier, which was directed by Howard. I wrote to Howard for advice, and to my surprise he responded with invaluable words.  

“From that point on, we’d sit down and Howard would ask me how I was getting on, and give me some pointers.  He was so kind. This is a program inspired by those meetings, a sharing of skills and experience, in the hope those who take part develop their craft.”

Applications to the Live Lab close on 30 November.

To find out more about the programme, including how to apply, head to theyardtheatre.co.uk

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