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Don Warrington and Susie McKenna mentor young directors

Don Warrington, the Rising Damp actor, is taking part in the New Visions project. Photo: Paul Clapp Don Warrington has supported calls for a new theatre awards. Photo: Paul Clapp
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Don Warrington, Susie McKenna and Kerry Michael are among industry figures taking part in a new project that will see them mentor young directors.

The New Visions scheme pairs emerging directors with established mentors to work on short plays. It will culminate in an evening of performance on May 9 at Hackney Empire.

Seven young directors are taking part in the scheme, with mentors including Warrington, an actor; McKenna, who runs the Hackney Empire; and Michael, artistic director of Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Other mentors include Talawa Theatre Company artistic director Michael Buffong, and directors Paulette Randall, Matthew Gould and Omar F Okai.

Randall said: “When I was a young director starting out in the business it felt very lonely. Actors can get together and work on their skill sets, writers can meet to workshop pieces, but directors don’t really have the same opportunities to work on specific skills.

“I thought [this] would be an exciting opportunity, one that I didn’t have, to establish a link with new emerging talent in the business, share my thoughts and expertise, and also to learn from their approach.”

Plays being performed at the event in east London include works by Isley Lynn, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Duncan Gates.

The project is the brainchild of Actorshop, which creates development programmes within the cultural and education sectors. New Visions is Actorshop’s first theatre production and will include actors from the organisation’s talent agency, the Actorshop Agency.

Producer Allen Liedkie said: “By providing new directors the opportunity to work with a professional team of industry-recognised actors from the Actorshop Agency, well-known playwrights and mentor directors who are well respected in theatre, we’ve created a safe and fun environment for them to develop essential skills that aren’t available in the traditional routes to becoming a professional director.”

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