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Celebrating 20 years of the Genesis Foundation

By youngviclondon 10 Jan 2024

7 people sit in chairs in a line listening with books in their laps.

The collaboration between the Genesis Foundation and the Young Vic has cultivated the careers of some of the UK’s most dynamic theatre-makers. They have gone on to make extraordinary work across art forms, win awards, grow an established practice, and be great cultural leaders.

Our relationship with the Genesis Foundation began with the launch of the Genesis Directors Project in 2003. The initial idea conceived by David Lan was to create a home for directors so they could think seriously and playfully about directing. In 2010 the project evolved into the Directors Programme and then in 2020 under Kwame Kwei- Armah’s tenure to the Creators Program. It has continued to be one of the most pioneering, celebrated, sustained and meaningful artist development programmes in British theatre. Over the past 20 years, with unprecedented foresight and generosity, the Genesis Foundation has supported workshops, discussions, skill-acquisition sessions, making shows, seeing shows, an internet network, and whatever early career directors needed on their journey to become themselves.

There have been a number of landmark projects and initiatives we have worked on together over our 20-year partnership.

Direct Action was a series of productions that allowed directors to work more ambitiously than they had before – on a larger scale, with a larger cast, with more rehearsal time. Between 2001 to 2005 there were 18 Direct Action productions providing opportunities, such as Afore Night Come by David Rudkin directed by Rufus Norris (2001), Simply Heavenly by Langston Hughes directed by Josette Bushell-Mingo (2003), When the World Was Green by Sam Shephard and Joseph Chaikin directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi (2003), and Some Voices by Joe Penhall directed by Matthew Dunster (2004).

The Genesis Network at the Young Vic was established in 2003 and was one of the first online spaces for artists to meet, find collaborators and find work. The network began with 20 members and over the last 20 years has grown to a community of 2,500 artists and producers.

In 2012 Ben Kidd was the first recipient of the Genesis Future Directors Award and since then 15 other directors have had the opportunity to explore their craft and stage a production in the Young Vic’s Clare Theatre. The production is fully supported by the Young Vic's creative, administrative and production teams. Other recipients include Andrea Ling, Deirdre McLaughlin, Diyan Zora, Dadiow Lin, Caitriona Shoobridge, Lekan Lawal, Debbie Hannan, John R. Wilkinson, Nancy Medina, Luke Skilbeck, Bryony Shanahan, Ola Ince, Rikki Henry, Tinuke Craig, Finn Beames and Matthew Xia.

The Genesis Fellow / Associate Director has provided invaluable opportunities for mid-career directors to be embedded at the Young Vic for a two-year period and make work with us. Our present Fellow Taio Lawson has the opportunity to be involved in the theatre’s programming and artistic planning, contribute to the work of the Young Vic’s Creators Program and support Genesis Future Directors Award recipients. Previous Genesis Fellows include Jennifer Tang, Nadia Latif, Gbolahan Obisesan, Natalie Abrahami, Carrie Cracknell and Joe Hill-Gibbins.

Though the body of work has evolved and deepened over the last 20 years the fundamental aim of nurturing talent, creativity and skill lies at the heart of the work we have created in partnership with the Genesis Foundation.

November 2023