HighTide is looking for new theatre writers to help them start out in the profession

HighTide festival, which is based in Suffolk, is looking for five emerging writers for First Commissions 2017. The annual scheme, supported by Martin Bowley Charitable Trust, provides support for the young playwrights selected to produce their commissions. It is open to anyone under the age of 30.

You needn’t have any previous writing experience or a written script prepared; all you need is a well formed idea that you want to explore and a burning desire to write a new, full-length play.


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The five chosen writers will be give the support needed to write a new stage play and produce two rehearsed readings in professional theatres. They will also collaborate with a director, engage an established playwright to act as a mentor and dramaturg, and make an application to Arts Council England for funding.

HighTide commissions are developed and made in Suffolk, and at least one commission every year will be relative to life in or by a writer from East Anglia. HighTide produces well resourced debut productions with substantial research and development periods, which benefit from development with HighTide associates and audience feedback. HighTide playwrights are new, adventurous and diverse in terms of ethnicity, political philosophy, and socio-economic backgrounds.

What Are They Looking For?

The festival wants playwrights with vivid, theatrical voices who have something important to say about the world we live in now. They’re also interested in writers/theatre-makers who challenge the conventional relationship between a play and an audience.

Writer and Play Development

Each play selected for this programme will undergo at least one year of development with HighTide. The first stage of this development is, with mentoring from HighTide associates and artists, to research, develop and write a draft of your play suitable for a public reading. During this time you will also build a relationship with an emerging director who will aid you in development of your play.

After this stage your play will be read at the annual HighTide Festival of new plays as a rehearsed reading and, following further feedback and development, will receive a rehearsed reading at one other professional theatre. Following this stage your play will be developed again, and submitted to HighTide for consideration for production as a fully resourced debut production that will either premiere at the annual HighTide Festival of New Plays, or at a co-producer venue across the UK.

How to Apply

You can find out more about First Commissions on the HighTide website. The deadline for applications is 6pm, 25 November 2016. Please note that HighTide will not accept applications from anyone who has had a paid commission, regardless of whether the play has been produced.