Writer Support

I was fortunate enough to have my latest play put through a rigorous developmental process with the Bristol Old Vic, where feedback and support was nothing short of superb, with a director and actors allowing me to hear the work over a three day process. This has been incredibly fruitful to my own development and has pushed the quality of my work forward in new and exciting directions."


Whether commissioning a new script, offering one-on-one dramaturgy sessions for emerging writers or running a wide range of inspirational masterclasses and courses, we endeavour to support regional writers at every career stage.

This page is the place to find out about all the ways we support writers across the year:
The Open Session
Courses & Workshops
Writers Lounge
Writers On Attachment


The Open Session

For the fifth year running we open up to read new and previously unproduced plays and musicals from writers living and working in the South West.  Submissions are accepted from Thu 1 June until Fri 30 June 2017.

For the five plays or musicals that most set our pulses racing we offer bespoke packages of development furthering our conversations with regional writing talent.  The Top 20 submissions will receive full readers' reports.

THE OPEN SESSION is generously supported by The Ronald Duncan Foundation, and writers of the top five plays are eligible for THE RONALD DUNCAN PRIZE alongside Top 5 writers from previous years of The Open Session. Bristol Old Vic will award the prize, which is a fully staged production - at least two awards will be made by 2018.

The Top 20 submissions will receive full readers' reports.

What we are looking for: -

  • Submissions must be from writers living and working in the South West. We define this as writers based in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Somerset, and the unitary authorities of Bath & North East Somerset, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, Isle of Wight, North Somerset, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, South Gloucestershire, Southampton, Swindon, Torbay and Wiltshire. At the moment we are not able to consider work from writers who are based outside of the region.
  • An original script that has not been previously produced. Plays or musicals that have emerged from a developmental stage (e.g. rehearsed readings or workshops) will be accepted.
  • Plays that are complete. If it is much over 100 pages, it may benefit from editing.
  • Musicals that are complete, along with a demo of at least 3 songs; or Musicals submitted in the form of a Full Synopsis of the plot along with demo recordings of at least 3 songs. Demos do not need to be polished recordings; rough demos are fine.  Musicals that reflect Bristol and the West Country in their story or sensibility are particularly welcome in Open Session 2017 (though this is not compulsory).
  • We are excited by work that is distinct and theatrical, with live staging at its heart. We're attracted by stories that ask questions and tell us something about being alive today, pieces that in some way have relevance to our own lives and consider their audience. The best way to get a sense of the work that gets us going is to read about the work we've previously produced in the past, and read scripts where published.

How do I submit my work?

  • Scripts should be on commonly found document formats known to be readable by Word for Windows; or they can be pdf documents.
  • You may only submit one work for this round.  Take time to consider a piece of your work that is best representative of your theatrical voice.  We want to get a sense of your individuality.
  • Demo songs for musicals should be submitted by including in your email a link to a website (such as soundcloud), or a web-based sharing site (such as Dropbox, YouSendIt or other Cloud storage) where we can hear or retrieve songs.  Please set any retrieval date for as long as possible, so that we can download your audio.
  • Please do not send second drafts or resubmissions of works you have previously sent in to us.
  • Please do not send us scripts for radio, film, television or adaptations of other work.
  • Put your name, your play or musical title and full contact details (address with post code, phone & email) on the covering email. On the script document itself only the play or musical title should be carried (not the writer's name).  This is because all submissions will be judged with the writer's identity anonymous.

A few things to bear in mind: -

  • We will not read entries sent before 9.00am on Thu 1 June or after 5pm on Fri 30 June 2017
  • Page numbers, character breakdowns and legible type/layout are required
  • Plays will take approximately three months from the closing date to go through our reading system.  We are expecting a considerably large volume of submissions so please bear with us.
  • We will let you know the outcome of your submission when a decision has been reached.
  • We will announce the five selected submissions on the Literary Department's section of the Bristol Old Vic website which can be found here: www.bristololdvic.org.uk/writers

What happens when you send us your script?

When we have received your script, we will send you an acknowledgement via email.  This is done when the scripts are processed (usually within a month of receipt).

Next, the play will be read by a member of our extensive and trusty script reading team, made up of producers, playwrights and directors.

What is the Bristol Old Vic offering in this Open Session?

We will give feedback in the way of a full reader's report to the top 20 submissions.  These will be chosen based on the work that we feel demonstrates individual flair and complements Bristol Old Vic's programming.

The five plays that most get our pulses racing will be offered bespoke packages of development.  These will be created in conversation with the writers selected and this ongoing relationship may lead to commissioning opportunities.

So that's it.... be bold, be adventurous.

We look forward to reading your work.

Courses & Workshops

Throughout the year we offer a raft of activity to keep writers flexing their creative muscles. Some of these are open access and others are invited. Whatever the particular project, our aim is always to offer the chance for a small group of writers to focus on specific area of scriptwriting guided by an experienced industry professional or colleague.

For more information on courses email: literary@bristololdvic.org.uk

Writers' Lounge

Spring & Autumn

We know that locking yourself away to pen your latest script can often feel like being trapped in Hades' Underworld. Writers' Lounge is an excuse to escape your computer and join us for a social evening at Bristol Old Vic.

There is no agenda. Writers' Lounge is a space for South West writers to link up, have a natter and inspire each other. Some writers you will know but it will be a great opportunity to meet a few you don't. If perchance you turn up and don't know anyone else, we'll introduce you around.

Did we mention we'll have a drink waiting for you too? Dates and times will be announced via our newsletter, so why not Sign Up for it now?




This is like a book club... But it isn't a club... And we don't read books.

Once a month a group of writers meet at the theatre to read, discuss and dissect a play that has been produced during the last four years.

It is a chance to read at least one new contemporary play a month, hone your critical skills, take the play's engine apart to see how it works and enter a lively debate with other writers. And if you fancy a pint with your dissection, the bar will be open too.

The group is limited to 12 so that we make sure we hear everyone's opinion. Currently the group is at capacity but there is a waiting list so if you would like to join please register your interest by emailing literary@bristololdvic.org.uk


Writers on Attachment

Annually, we invite two writers from the South West to join us in the building for a flexible period of three months. These writers will be playwrights who we have started to get to know and who excite us in what they might write next.

This is an invited attachment. If we are yet to meet you we suggest you send in a script submission for our Open Session. If you wish to make contact outside of our annual Open Session we suggest you drop us a line letting us know if there's a chance for us to see your work in action - anything from from rehearsed readings to full production. We'll make every effort to pop along where we can. [We can't accept scripts by way of introduction to your writing, unless they are submitted during The Open Session's window in June and July]

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