About Us

Makers of New Theatre

“Famous for championing emerging playwrights and contemporary theatre” Daily Mail

HighTide Festival Theatre is one of the UK’s leading producers of new plays, and the only professional theatre focused on the production of new playwrights. Currently we read and consider around 1000 scripts a year from around the world, from which we then work with 100 playwrights on a range of development opportunities, from workshops to full productions. Every play that we receive is read by our Artistic Director and Associates.

Under Steven Atkinson, co-founding Artistic Director, we have premièred major productions by playwrights including Ella Hickson, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Nick Payne, Adam Brace, Beth Steel, Laura Poliakoff, Luke Barnes, Vickie Donoghue, Sam Holcroft, Jack Thorne and Joel Horwood. We produce several productions a year in our annual Suffolk festival and on tour. 

In nine years we have staged over fifty productions, producing new work with some of the world's leading theatres in London (including the National Theatre, Bush Theatre, Old Vic Theatre and Soho Theatre), regionally (including Sheffield Theatres, Manchester Royal Exchange and Theatre Royal Bath) and internationally (In New York 59E59 and the Public Theater, and in Australia the National Play Festival).

Explore our history here year by year, or see a full list of productions here

HighTide Festival Theatre was founded in 2007 by Steven Atkinson and Sam Hodges. The festival was founded in 2006/7 by Sam Hodges with Moss Barclay and Lilli Geissendorfer.

Lansons host our administrative offices in-kind within their Clerkenwell offices. This innovative partnership between a business and charity has won five Corporate Engagement Awards, a Social Impact Award, two Arts & Business award nominations, and has been profiled by the Guardian and the Evening Standard.

HighTide Festival Theatre is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England.

A Brief History


Our 2015 Season commenced with the transfer of Vinay Patel's True Brits to London's Vault Festival. Harry Melling's debuet play peddling transfered to the Arcola Theatre following its run Off-Broadway and in the 2014 HighTide Festival. 

Anders Lustgarten's Lampedusa premiered at Soho Theatre ahead of its transfer to the HighTide Festival and Unity Theatre, Liverpool in September 2015.

Luke Norris's award-winning So Here We Are will premiere at the ninth HighTide Festival ahead of transferring to the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

Tom Holloway's Forget Me Not will premiere at the Bush Theatre in December 2015.


Our 2014 Season commenced with the transfer of Chris Dunkley's Smallholding to Soho Theatre. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's writings were performed at the Southbank Centre as part of the 2014 Women of the World Festival in an event called Pussy Riot: Letters and Writings

The eighth HighTide Festival took place in Halesworth, Suffolk from April 10 to 19. The festival gave Elinor Cook and Harry Melling their professional debuet, Nick Payne returned to the festival for the first time since 2008, and we produced the European premiere of Dan LeFranc's award-winning The Big Meal directed by Michael Boyd.

Dan LeFranc's The Big Meal premiered at the Ustinov Studio before transferring to the HighTide Festival in a co-production with Bath Theatre Royal Productions. 

Nick Payne's Incognito transferred to Live Theatre Newcastle, the North Wall Oxford and the Bush Theatre in a co-production with nabokov and Live Theatre.

Harry Melling's peddling transferred Off Broadway to 59E59, New York City. It will transfer to the Arcola Theatre, London in March 2015. 

Luke Barnes' Bottleneck transferred to the 2014 Edinburgh Festival in the 25th anniversary year of the Hillsborough disaster.

Vinay Patel's True Brits premiered at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival and will transfer to the Bush Theatre RADAR Festival, produced in association with Rich Mason productions.

Vickie Donoghue's Game Over premiered at The Garage, Norwich before transferring to The Cut, Halesworth.


Our 2013 Festival included the premiere of the Verity Bargate Award winning Pastoral by Thomas Eccleshare (a co-production with Soho Theatre), Smallholding, the main stage debut play by Chris Dunkley (a co-production with Nuffield Theatre, Southampton), two European premieres: Moth by Declan Greene (transferring to the Bush Theatre) and Neighbors by the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award recipient Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (a co-production with Nuffield Theatre, Southampton), and Luke Barnes’ acclaimed Bottleneck opened at Soho Theatre and then toured the UK.
Outside of the Festival we premiered Phil Porter’s The Reprobates, a new play for young people (a co-production with The Garage, Norwich), a touring production of Alexander Masters' Stuart: A Life Backwards adapted by Jack Thorne (a co-production with Sheffield Theatres) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's open letter was performed at the Bush Theatre in an event called Pussy Riot: Hunger Strike.
Luke Barnes' Bottleneck transferred to Soho Theatre and then toured nationally. 
Thomas Eccleshare's Pastoral transferred to Soho Theatre in a co-production with Soho Theatre.
Branden Jacobs Jenkins' Neighbors transferred to Nuffield Theatre, Southampton in a co-production with the Nuffield Theatre.
Declan Greene's Moth transferred to the Bush Theatre, presented by David Luff Productions.
Phil Porter's The Reprobates premiered at The Garage, Norwich before transferring to Thorpeness, Suffolk. 
Jack Thorne's adaptation of Alexander Masters' novel Stuart: A Life Backwards premiered at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival and then toured to the Sheffield Crucible and Watford Palace Theatre. It was shortlisted for the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award, and Fraser Ayres was nominated for Best Actor in The Stage Awards.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's open letter premiered at the Bush Theatre in an event called Pussy Riot: Hunger Strike
In HighTide Festival 2012 we premiered eighteen plays in world and European premiere productions by writers including: Luke Barnes, Jon Barton, Ollie Birch, Mike Daisey, Joe Douglas, Vickie Donoghue, Thomas Eccleshare, Kenny Emson, Berri George, Karis Halsall, Nancy Harris, Ella Hickson, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Mona Mansour, Laura Marks, Ian McHugh, Jon McLeod, Shiona Morton Laura Poliakoff, Mahlon Prince, Stella Fawn Ragsdale, Stephanie Street, Philip Wells, Nicola Werenowska, Alexandra Wood.
Ella Hickson's Boys transferred to Nuffield Theatre, Southampton and Soho Theatre in a co-production with the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton and Headlong Theatre.
Vickie Donoghue's Mudlarks transferred to Theatre503 and the Bush Theatre in a co-production with Lucy Jackson. It was shortlisted for the National Theatre Foundation Playwriting Award and longlisted for the Charles Wintour Most Promising Playwright Award in the 2012 Evening Standard Awards.
Luke Barnes' Eisteddfod transferred to the 2012 Latitude Festival.
Ramon Mello's Endless Poem premiered as part of Rio Occupation London, produced by People's Palace Projects and co-produced by BAC.
Joe Douglas' Educating Ronnie transferred to the 2012 Edinburgh Festival, where it won a Fringe First Award, produced in association with macrobert and Utter. It was shortlisted for the National Theatre Foundation Playwriting Award.
Luke Barnes’ Bottleneck premiered at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival.
In HighTide Festival 2011 we premiered four major productions by Stephen Belber, Adam Brace, Andrew Motion, and a new musical by Richard Marsh & Natalia Sheppard (aka Rogue Nouveau)
Andrew Motion's Incoming transferred to Latitude Festival 2011, the 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, and by special invitation to the House of Commons.
Stephen Belber's Dusk Rings A Bell transferred to the 2011 Edinburgh Festival before transferring to Watford Palace Theatre.
Adam Brace's Midnight Your Time transferred to the 2011 Edinburgh Festival.
In HighTide Festival 2010 we premiered three major productions by Serge Cartwright, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and Beth Steel.
Serge Cartwright's Moscow Live was shortlisted for the 2010 John Whiting Award.
Beth Steel's Ditch transferred to The Old Vic Tunnels in London, in a co-production with The Old Vic Theatre, in May 2010. Ditch was shortlisted for the 2010 John Whiting Award.
Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's Lidless transferred to the 2010 Edinburgh Festival, where it won a Fringe First Award before transferring to the Trafalgar Studios, London in March 2011. Penny Layden was nominated for Best Actress in The Stage Awards. 
Dominic Mitchell's The Theatre EP, conceived by Natalie Ibu, premiered at Latitude Festival 2010, Suffolk.
In HighTide Festival 2009 we premiered three major productions by Lydia Adetunji, Lucy Caldwell and Jesse Weaver.
Lydia Adetunji's Fixer and Adam Brace's Stovepipe transferred to the National Play Festival in Brisbane, Australia, in January 2010.
Fixer was shortlisted for the Meyer Whitworth Award. It was revived in a new production at Oval House Theatre in June 2011.
In HighTide Festival 2008 we premiered four major productions by Adam Brace, Joel Horwood, Nick Payne, and the fourth by Emily Watson-Howes and You Need Me.
Joel Horwood's I Caught Crabs in Walberswick transferred to the 2008 Edinburgh Festival, a UK tour, and the Bush Theatre, in a co-production with Eastern Angles.
Adam Brace's Stovepipe transferred to the West 12 Centre in London as a found- space production in collaboration with the National Theatre and Bush Theatre in March 2009. The Sunday Times listed this as one of The Ten Best Theatre Productions of the Decade.
Emily Watson Howes' Certain Dark Things transferred to the 2009 Edinburgh Festival produced by You Need Me and was nominated for the 2009 Total Theatre Award.
Nick Payne's The Pitch premiered at Latitude Festival 2008, Suffolk.
In the inaugural HighTide Festival 2007 we premiered four short plays by Steven Bloomer, Sarah Cuddon, Sam Holcroft and Megan Walsh.