New commissioning opportunity for BAMER playwrights

  • Arcola and The Orseis Trust to commission and support a new Main Stage play by an emerging to mid-career BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic or Refugee) writer
  • Winning play to premiere in Arcola’s main 2018/19 Season
  • Applications close at 5pm on Tuesday 19th September 2017

Arcola Theatre is partnering with The Orseis Trust to commission a talented and committed playwright from a traditionally underrepresented background, to develop an original work for Arcola’s main stage.

Arcola aims to produce world class, locally engaged and internationally minded theatre. We stand for an artistically adventurous, radical theatre, constantly interpreting and responding to an ever-changing contemporary British culture and society.

While great progress has been made in the last decade, BAMER writers continue to face significant inequality of opportunity in their progression to larger platforms and main stages; especially in getting subsequent plays commissioned and produced, even after a successful debut.

Working together, Arcola and The Orseis Trust hope to play a significant part in helping to usher in a new generation of exciting writers.

Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen said: “The Orseis Trust / Arcola Theatre Co-Commission is a perfect extension of our new writing programme PlayWROUGHT, which has so far brought four new plays on to our stages, and our artist development facility ArcolaLAB, which supports BAMER artists and theatre makers all year round. We want to support writers who have already found a way to get their early work out into the world, and who want to take a step up – to tell big stories on our largest stage, and to the widest audience possible.”


The Orseis Trust / Arcola Theatre Co-Commission is looking to identify and develop one BAMER writer who:

  • is over the age of 18, and has been based in the UK for at least TWO years;
  • has had at least ONE, but no more than THREE professional stage productions in the UK*;
  • has NOT previously received a PAID full-length play commission. The only exception to this is if the paid full-length commission has not been produced, and the option on the commission has now expired. This is to not disadvantage those who have received a commission previously but have not seen this play produced on stage.

*For the purposes of this commission, a professional production is defined as a run of over two weeks, for a full-length play with a paid cast and creative team.

Commission and support

One writer will be selected and commissioned to write a new stage play for the main house in Arcola Theatre’s 2018/19 Season. This will be paid at the agreed UK Theatre / Writers Guild rates for Arcola Theatre Studio 1 productions.

The work may be an original idea, but adaptations will also be considered if the writer can demonstrate that:

  • the rights are obtainable (if relevant);
  • the material is particularly suited for the stage;
  • the writer can provide a new perspective on the source material.

Following the commission, the writer will have access to the resources and expertise in Arcola’s existing new writing programmes (including R&D space, dramaturgy and readings), and one-to-one mentorship by Arcola’s Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen to support the development of the play.

While Arcola Theatre cannot guarantee that any play commissioned will be produced, the track record of producing plays commissioned and developed at Arcola is exceptional.


To apply, please complete this simple application form. and send the following supporting documents to

  • A writing CV, or one page statement that lists any training and development programmes or opportunities you have taken part in, and a production history (including production dates, venue, director and play);
  • A one-page idea or pitch for a new play;
  • A 20-30 page extract of a previously produced play.

Applications opened on Tuesday 29th August and will close at 5pm on Tuesday 19th September 2017.

Selection process

Following the close of entries, a longlist of ten writers will be selected.

These ten applications will then be reviewed by a selection panel in November 2017. This panel comprises Arcola’s Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen, Executive Producer Leyla Nazli, Arcola Board Members and Playwrights Jack Shepherd and Gabriel Gbadamosi, and representatives of the Orseis Trust.

The selection panel will identify three writers who will be invited to meet with Arcola’s Artistic Director in December to discuss their writing and ideas, from which one writer will be selected for the commission.

All applicants will be notified of the outcome by the end of 2017.

About The Orseis Trust

The Orseis Trust was established in 2017 to encourage creative excellence and amplify new voices. It provides support for emerging artists at the beginning of their careers, especially those from under-represented communities.  The trustees are delighted to be working with the Arcola Theatre on this co-commission.

Any questions or queries, please contact Arcola’s Creative Engagement Manager Nick Connaughton – / 0207 503 1645