Escalator Plays

Escalator Plays is part of a wider Escalator Talent Development initiative that is supported by Arts Council England East. This particular strand is managed by HighTide Festival Theatre.

The scheme is designed to support early career playwrights from the East of England, and those wanting to work in the region to develop their work and showcase their work at partner theatres, who have included Eastern Angles, New Wolsey Ipswich, and Mercury Theatre Colchester.

As part of a writers’ group, 6 writers each year will be offered a bespoke package of development which is a means to grow their own writing and capacity to see that work produced. Escalator Plays aims to improve the quality of each writers work and connect each of the group to the wider theatre industry within the region.  This development will include access to one on one sessions, workshops, time with creatives and other writers and may lead to work being shared or fully produced in the future. 

Applications for the 2013/14 Escalator are now closed. Thank you to all those who submitted; we are currently making our way through the entries and will be in touch shortly. 


Escalator writers will receive bespoke development of their work focussed around the starting of a new full length play or performance text.  This development is based on the writer and their individual needs and where appropriate they will be supported to apply through Grants for the Arts (GFTA) to fund the development programme.

With this in mind, examples of support include: 

  • Targeted mentoring from fellow creatives, including HighTide Artistic Director, playwrights and directors.
  • Opportunities to see new plays in London, regionally and internationally
  • Support to write a new full length play or performance text.
  • Workshop space to see the process from page to stage.
  • Support and a platform to share work in the East of England and beyond and receive feedback
  • Opportunity to be part of the Escalator Plays Writers’ Group, learning alongside fellow writers and developing work together.
  • Opportunities to work on bespoke projects and shorter works throughout the year.


In addition to this, Escalator Writers’ also benefit from 

  • The recognition of being attached to Escalator Plays as a writer
  • The opportunity to develop a relationship with HighTide Festival Theatre who will act as advocates for your writing to the wider industry
  • Additional specialist support in supporting your writing through funding and application to Grants for the Arts.
  • Support in establishing networks in the East of England and beyond.

Throughout the 12 months each writer will have a series of behind closed doors development opportunities as well as public sharings of work.  One of these public sharings will occur at the annual HighTide Festival.  However, we are keen to see these writers working in theatre buildings as well as with companies in the region and will be seeking platforms for this. It is the intention of the scheme to provide the region with a strong playwright focussed development opportunity and these writers will be keen to meet, discuss and share their work with our partners in the region. 

Regional partners will be invited to all sharings of work and HighTide will facilitate conversations between the Escalator Playwrights and regional partners.  Should you be keen to engage in any way please contact us.  Furthermore, there will be an online presence for the work as well as regular updates on the playwrights and their work throughout the year.  


Dates for 2013

May 30 2013

Applications open for the 2013/14 Escalator Plays

August 31 2013

Deadline for Applications to 2013/14 Escalator Plays

October 2013

Escalator Plays announces the 6 successful playwrights and applications to Grants for the Arts are submitted (6 weeks wait until results of application announced)

October 2013 – April 2014     

The 6 playwrights start their new work and receive bespoke development

April 2014       

Presentations of Escalator Plays work in development at the HighTide Festival

June 2014       

Each writer develops their work from feedback given by HighTide

Autumn 2014     

Rehearsed Readings in the region in collaboration with our partners

Application Process

Applications for Escalator Plays open on 30 May 2013 and will remain open for three months, closing on 31 August 2013 with selections being made at the start of September. 

The selection process involves a formal application to HighTide Festival Theatre, including a writing sample and completed application form as well as a pitch for a new play to be developed throughout the scheme.  HighTide will compile a shortlist of applicants and then share this with a specialist panel of new writing experts in the East of England who will inform the final selection of 6 playwrights.  Escalator Plays is focussed on developing contemporary playwriting in the East of England and therefore we are looking for pitches from emerging writers that are innovative, bold in vision, expansive in narrative and ambitious, whilst being targeted at contemporary audiences and provoking what new writing is, can be and can mean in our current theatrical landscape. 

We strongly advise you to familiarise yourself with the work of HighTide Festival Theatre, the writers we have worked with and also the cultural landscape in the East of England. We are looking for diverse voices, variety and crucially, playwrights who can provoke us as much as we can them.



Applications to Escalator Plays close on 31 August 2013 at 5pm

All applications must be sent electronically to 

Any applications received after the closing date will not be considered.

Application Checklist

  • Fully Completed Application Form
  • Ten Page Play Sample
  • Supporting Materials (if appropriate)

Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form (found in application form pack)

We actively encourage script submissions from writers of all backgrounds, without discrimination.


Do I have to be based in the East of England to apply?

No, you don't have to be living in or from the East of England to apply to Escalator Plays, although we do strongly urge playwrights who do, to apply to the scheme.  However, we are keen to select playwrights and plays that are developed within the East of England, furthering the high quality work already present and developing new writing throughout the East. If you are not from or based in the region we would however like to hear why developing your play with HighTide in the East of England is important to you.

What financial support is available through Escalator Plays?

The 6 successful playwrights will each apply to Arts Council England, through Grants for the Arts (GFTA), for funding that we imagine will not be more than £10,000. HighTide will be offering support through this process and assisting where possible to strengthen the application.  We imagine that this will be the first thing the successful playwrights do on the scheme, to fund their writing and development of their play. 

N.B. being selected to take part of Escalator Plays does not gurantee that your GFTA will be successful. 

What type of plays and playwrights are HighTide keen to develop through Escalator Plays?

HighTide are keen to see a varied group of playwrights supported through Escalator Plays and a group that reflects our festival programming ambitions of diverse, ambitious and bold new plays. We are keen to challenge and be challenged by the playwrights who apply and are looking for expansive vision but real attention to the details of writing for theatre. Have a look at recent productions and HighTide writers for a sense of our tastes but remember that we want 6 different playwrights and so might be looking for more than those plays we have programmed in the past.

How much time should I dedicate to Escalator Plays if I am successful?

Escalator Plays is a bespoke programme of development, designed to fit to each of the 6 individual playwrights. Although we imagine to be meeting as a group at least once a month, we will decide upon exact details once we have our group established. There will be numerous and extensive one on one sessions, correspondence and play development with further creative teams throughout the year, as well as public presentations and online elements to the work. This scheme is for playwrights and we are looking for dedication but understand that life is multi faceted and so have built a programme of activity that is flexible.