The Royal Exchange Theatre are excited to announce the Hodgkiss Director Award, a vital fund that enables an early career director based in Greater Manchester to complete a three-month residency at the Royal Exchange.

At a time when opportunities to break into the creative industries have decreased, awards like this are essential to the ecology of artists based in the region and will give a wide range of opportunities both in and out of the rehearsal room.

The Hodgkiss Family and William Hare have a long history of supporting the theatre, including supporting the refurbishment of the theatre following the Manchester Bomb in the 1990s. In 2010, Sue Hodgkiss co-founded the Hodgkiss Award to recognise an outstanding emerging director. Since then, the Hodgkiss Award has supported emerging artists in a range of disciplines to develop their careers and build a connection to the Royal Exchange and Greater Manchester, including the opportunity for three creatives to be in residence at the Royal Exchange during the production of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN last year.

Sally Hodgkiss said, “We are thrilled to be supporting this year’s Hodgkiss Directors Award. At a time when the government continues to make cuts to the arts, it is essential that individuals, groups and businesses offer support where they can so that theatre can continue to grow and develop, and serve, as it so often does, as the heart of the community. We must keep making art, and we must keep telling stories.”

This summer’s recipient’s residency includes the role of Assistant Director on the upcoming production of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, supporting the Local Exchange Den Festival in Rochdale and a week-long workshop opportunity to direct and explore an idea with two actors. This Award gives the director a unique insight into the working of a large-scale producing theatre and allows them to gain direct experience to support a sustainable career.

Director of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Josh Roche said, I started out as an assistant director on a scheme very similar to the Hodgkiss Award. I still remember being desperate to get inside a professional rehearsal room. Opportunities like this are a brilliant way to learn not just about the technical side of rehearsals, but about all the social skills and minutiae that form the bulk of directing. It’s really a social artform, and you can’t experience that in any other way than in a rehearsal room. Plus, rehearsal rooms are hugely addictive. Once you’ve been in one, you want another. I can’t wait to give someone the same opportunity. If you don’t think theatre is for you, or that we’re not looking for you, you’re wrong. Apply!

Inga Hirst, Director of Engagement, added,
“We’re delighted that the recipient of the award will have the opportunity to work in the Den, on our brilliant summer festival that is taking place in Rochdale. This award has created the space for an assistant director to gain a broad experience across all the work we do here at the Exchange, from a show in our module to the development of a festival in our pop-up theatre in the community. Working with a passionate team of community ambassadors to create a festival that is reflective of their ambition for their community is inspiring, and an incredible way to shape your practice as a director.”

This award builds on the Royal Exchange’s proven track record of supporting directors through placements and awards at key moments in their career, including Nickie-Miles Wildin (RTYDS Assistant Director Placement, currently our Interim Associate Director), Atri Banerjee (Director of SHED EXPLODED VIEW, Birkbeck Directing MA placement, Peter Hall Bursary National Theatre) and Dale Edwards (Recipient of the JMK Assistant Director Bursary).

Nickie Miles-Wildin, Interim Resident Associate Director at the Royal Exchange, said, “I am extremely excited that we are able to offer this role to an early career director who is based in Greater Manchester. An opportunity to work with an award-winning director and the Exchange team at The Den in Rochdale, our two unique spaces. This will really develop and hone your skills as a director, a theatre maker and fully understand how the North West’s leading producing house fully operates. My career began at The Royal Exchange on a similar trainee scheme and therefore I truly hope this is the start of a magnificent journey for someone else.”