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Theatre graduate wins prestigious award for emerging directors

Diane Page, a director and Birkbeck alumna, won the James Menzies-Kitchin Trust Award and will showcase her production at the Orange Tree Theatre as part of her prize.

A headshot of Diane Page in black and white
Diane Page

Last week, it was announced that Diane Page, a graduate of Birkbeck’s BA Theatre Studies degree and the MFA Theatre Directing programme, was the winner of the James Menzies-Kitchin (JMK) Trust Award.

The JMK Award recognises the talent of young directors across the country who demonstrate promise, vision and inspiration. The winner receives a cash prize of £25,000 to put their production on at the Orange Tree Theatre, located in Richmond, London. The runner up for the award was Rafaella Marcus, who graduated from Birkbeck’s Theatre Directing MFA in 2015.

Diane Page was awarded the prize for her proposed production of Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act by Athol Fugard. The play is a love story set in apartheid South Africa that follows two lovers, a black man and a white woman as they navigate the colour bar politics of the time. It will be staged from 2 September until 2 October 2021. Since graduating in 2019, Diane has directed a number of shows including Love and Loyalty; Kool Britannia; and Out West, which will reopen at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre from 18 June.

Diane said: “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to stage Statements After an Arrest Under The Immorality Act, by Athol Fugard, at the Orange Tree Theatre. Winning the JMK Award is an incredible feeling, and especially at this time - I’m so happy it was able to continue despite the global pandemic and I can’t wait to share my production with everyone.” 

Professor Rob Swain, Professor of Theatre Practice in the Department of English, Theatre and Creative Writing, said: “All of us who have taught Diane on the BA Theatre Studies and the MFA Theatre Directing programmes are delighted for her. It has been an absolute pleasure to see Diane develop her knowledge, skills, imagination and confidence over the past six years and the JMK Award gives Diane the wider professional recognition that her innate qualities and abilities as a theatre maker deserve. We are sure that she will have a rich and rewarding future and the theatre industry will be greater for having her in it.”

Diane Page is part of a cohort of MFA Theatre Directing graduates who will be directing productions to open theatres across London. Oliver Award winner, Lyndsey Turner, will direct Under Milk Wood at the National Theatre; Atri Banerjee will direct Harm at the Bush; and Jonathan O’Boyle’s production of The Last Five Years will open the Vaudeville Theatre in the West End.

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