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First Commissions

HighTide First Commissions Scheme 2018 - 2019

HighTide's aim is to produce new theatre works by artists who are yet to receive their first commission. HighTide produces well-resourced debut productions with substantial research and development periods, which benefit from development with HighTide associates and audience feedback. HighTide’s artists are new, adventurous and diverse in terms of ethnicity, political philosophy and socio-economic backgrounds.

First Commissions is HighTide's attachment programme for writers and theatre makers. Every year, we work with a number of emerging writers who have never received a full length play commission. Over an 18 month period we then aid them to:

  • Create a new theatre piece
  • Make an application to Arts Council England’s Project Grants to cover a full commission fee and development budget
  • Produce two rehearsed readings, showings or workshops in professional theatres or cultural organisations
  • Collaborate with a wider creative team, usually in the form of a director or facilitator
  • Engage an established theatre artist to act as a mentor and dramaturg

This year we are excited to be working with 3 diverse and innovative partner organisations; Coney, Eastern Anglesand Tamasha for the First Commissions programme.

How It Will Work

HighTide, along with each partner organisation, will outline the kind of artists and ideas we are looking to develop. We will then ask artists to apply for one or more of the strands that they think are best suited to them and their idea.

What Are We Looking For? 

We’re looking for playwrights, theatre makers or artists with a burning idea who have vivid, theatrical voices and have never before received an full commissions fee. We’re also interested in artists who may not necessarily identify as a ‘writer’ but have a desire to create theatrical, relevant and innovative work.

For this scheme, we're defining a commission fee as the Writer's Guild of Great Britain rate for a full length play received from a professional arts organisation.

Each strand and partner of the First Commissions scheme this year has a slightly different focus:

HighTide - The standalone HighTide strand is looking for writers across England with a great idea for a new play

Coney - Our partnership with Coney is looking for talented theatre makers or artists with an exciting idea for a new piece of theatre which the audience can play

Eastern Angles - Our partnership with Eastern Angles is looking for writers based in the East of England or writing about the East of England

Tamasha - Our partnership with Tamasha is looking for writers of colour from across England with a great idea for a new play

Artist and Play Development

Each idea selected for this programme will undergo at least one year of development with HighTide and the respective partner organisation. The first stage of this development is to apply to Arts Council England’s Project Grants for a full commission fee (in line with Independent Theatre Council guidelines) and a development budget for workshopping the play during the year. HighTide have a fantastic track record in supporting artists this way and the writer will be supported through this process by HighTide and the partnering organisation.

The second stage is, with mentoring from both organisations, to research, develop and write a draft of your theatre piece suitable for a public reading, showing or workshop. During this time you will also build a relationship with an emerging director who will aid you in development of your play as well as being connected to other key industry contacts and possible production partners. After this, your play will be read at the annual HighTide Festival of new plays as a rehearsed reading/showing. During this period, we also aim for the play to have a further rehearsed reading/showing at a professional theatre or cultural organisation.

Following this stage, your play will be submitted to HighTide and the partner organisation for consideration for production as a fully resourced production that will either premiere at the annual HighTide Festival, or at a co-producer venue across the UK.

The First Commissions scheme is designed to work with each individual writer or artist over the 18 month attachment period, we will work closely to develop each artist to suit their specific needs and idea.

Please read carefully the application pack for each strand of the 2018/2019 First Commission scheme. Each strand is structured slightly differently depending on the organisation we are partnering with.

Please note: an offer of a place on our First Commissions scheme is not a guarantee of a full production. A commission will only be optioned for production by HighTide, partner organisations and possible co-producers if it is deemed of a production ready standard and quality. In some special circumstances if plays are far enough along in their developmental process after the initial reads they may be optioned for production early.

Applications close at midday on 14th June 2018. We will be in touch after the closing date. Shortlisted writers will be invited to interview in Central London w/c 2nd July 2018.

Application Pack download links:

HighTide Application Pack

HighTide and Coney Application Pack

HighTide and Eastern Angles Application Pack

HighTide and Tamasha Application Pack