Literary Department


Bristol Old Vic literary department has been utterly essential to my artistic development. Initiatives and other supporting activities offered to me by the department have meant that I have met and worked with an amazingly wide variety of artists...with results that have been intriguing, character-building and creatively healthy."

TIM X ATACK, Open Session Writer 2014-15

Opportunity For Writers

THE OPEN SESSION is back for 2017! For the fifth year running we're open to scripts for new plays and musicals from any writer in the South West.

This search for Writer talent is generously supported by The Ronald Duncan Foundation, and Bristol Old Vic will be awarding THE RONALD DUNCAN PRIZE to at least two plays discovered since The Open Session began - resulting in fully staged productions.

You may be an experienced writer, or this may be the piece that has just inspired you to write.
[Only scripts sent in by the deadline of 30 June 2017 can be considered]

We're completely open: last year all of the writers we went on to work with were new to us, and we met them due to The Open Session. They came from Devon, Cornwall, Bristol and Cheltenham! 

What do I get?  

  • Writers of the TOP 5 SCRIPTS join us for a year of Script Development, Masterclasses, and Workshops to get their writing ‘on its feet' with actors. They also become the first writers we introduce to partners we're creating opportunities with - last year that meant a shortcut to the BBC, Creative England, and production company Theatre West.
  • Writers of the TOP 5 SCRIPTS are eligible for THE RONALD DUNCAN PRIZE alongside Top 5 writers from previous years of The Open Session. The prize is a fully staged production, and at least two awards will be made by 2018.
  • Writers of the TOP 20 SCRIPTS receive a Reader Report on their script, including script editing pointers, and sometimes suggestions about the potential audience for the work if it's not right for Bristol Old Vic.

The Musical Theatre section of The Open Session is made possible by the generous support of ATG (Ambassador Theatre Group) who fund Bristol Old Vic's Musical Theatre Development projects.

Submissions to The Open Session are accepted from Thu 1 June to Fri 30 June 2017. 

For full details of how to submit your work click here.

Please read the guidelines carefully.

Bristol Old Vic Literary Department

New writing is the lifeblood of our programme. We are passionate about providing access, opportunity, and Writer Support to writers of plays and musicals at any level of their career. We work primarily with writers from the South West region, building developmental initiatives, forging creative collaborations, offering structured support, and identifying commissioning opportunities. We also commission new work from national and international writers, and advise on adaptations and classics for the theatre's varied artistic programme.

Our Recent & Past Projects have taken our audience on many journeys - from a windswept seaside town in Natalie McGrath's hauntingly beautiful Coasting [2011], to a back woods Cardiff estate for a tale of parenthood, protection and provocation in Katherine Chandler's award winning Before It Rains [2012]. Most recently we co-produced Bea Roberts' highly acclaimed And Then Come The Nightjars [2015].

In addition to producing new drama writing the department also collaborates with Word of Mouth, Bristol's literary agency, in the programming of Blahblahblah - a monthly evening of spoken word at Bristol Old Vic by some of the most acclaimed poets from the region, the UK and beyond.

We call out to writers for their new drama scripts once a year via ‘The Open Session', and run an extensive programme of courses, masterclasses, socials, and dramaturgical support all year round. Go to our Writer Support page to find out about all these opportunities, and browse our other pages for more about Writers at Bristol Old Vic, and for some handy Resources:

Writer Support
Recent & Past Projects
Writer Q&As

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