Supported by Clore Duffield Performing Arts Award

Supported by Noel Coward Foundation

Supported by Suffolk Foundation


FIRST LOOK is a theatre company for young people that gives insight and direct access to the rehearsal rooms of professional theatre practitioners.

The objectives of FIRST LOOK are:

  • To create theatre companies of young people aged between 14 and 18.
  • Each FIRST LOOK Company rehearse a new stage play, led by a director and workshop practitioner in the manner of a professional acting company staging a new play.
  • To invite the FIRST LOOK Companies into HighTide’s professional rehearsal rooms and create a rehearsal structure in which professional actors are leading and working alongside the FIRST LOOK Company to realise a common aim of developing and staging a new theatre text.

FIRST LOOK companies are also offered subsidised tickets to see HighTide productions.

FIRST LOOK is currently available to all schools in Suffolk, with plans to expand the scheme to London in the future.

Moscow Live


Between November 2nd to 26th 2009, FIRST LOOK took place across schools in Ipswich, Sudbury, and Woodbridge, linking three state and independent schools for the first time. The single objective was to rehearse the new play Moscow Live with a professional director before joining the rehearsals of the professional HighTide Company who were employed to workshop Moscow Live at Snape Maltings in Suffolk.

FIRST LOOK Companies were formed at Ipswich High School for Girls, Woodbridge School, and Sudbury Arts College. 

The companies rehearsed Moscow Live, a new play submitted to HighTide by Serge Cartwright for production in the 2010 HighTide Festival. It was directed by Jonathan Humphries, Staff Director at the National Theatre on productions including The Pitman Painters, Gethsemane, and All’s Well That Ends Well. All the FIRST LOOK rehearsals were led by Jonathan and William Buckhurst, an Education Practitioner at Shakespeare’s Globe and recently Assistant Director on Aunt Dan and Lemon at the Royal Court Theatre.  

The schedule was as follows:


William Buckhurst and Jonathan Humphries led introductory warm-up sessions and conducted rehearsed readings of Moscow Live with the three Companies.  


William and Jonathan started to stage the first 8 pages of Moscow Live with each company doing character building exercises, exploring the themes of the text, and trying out different interpretations to a character’s motivation and its impact upon a scene, all as a professional means of investigating a text.


Aldeburgh Music Session

This session was divided into three units:

One:  A group warm-up led by William in which the three Companies were introduced to working together and were merged into one FIRST LOOK Company.

Two: The FIRST LOOK Company were divided into groups, with the Moscow Live playwright, director and cast each leading a team. The groups staged the opening of the play under the guidance of a professional, drawing upon their experiences acquired in the previous sessions.

Three: The Moscow Live company engaged in a group question and answer session with the FIRST LOOK Company to whom they gave frank and practical advice as to how one forges a career working in the arts. 


In the final session, each FIRST LOOK Company completed their staging of the opening of Moscow Live, drawing upon the feedback they received in the previous week, and they completed a group feedback session on the staging with William Buckhurst, Jonathan Humphries, and their peers.

All participants will see the world premiere of Moscow Live at HighTide Festival 2010.

You can download the Moscow Live education pack here.

Get Involved

If you are a teacher working in a school in Suffolk and would like HighTide to form a FIRST LOOK company with your pupils, please contact Francesca Clark for more information on 0207 566 9765 or email.