greenhouse projects announced

greenhouse invests over £50,000 in new partnerships between theatre makers and venues

greenhouse is a new three year initiative aimed at helping contemporary theatre thrive across the South East and East of England by better connecting the ambitions of theatre makers, venues and audiences.  It is a partner project to the touring initiative, house, delivered by Farnham Maltings.

  • greenhouse has seed funded ten new partnerships between venues and theatre makers in the South East and East of England with awards of £3000-£8000.
  • greenhouse is additionally working with SHPLive.TV to explore new ways for theatre makers to engage audiences online.
  • greenhouse is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council England

For the past three years, the house initiative has been helping venues in the South East and East of England to improve the range, quality and audience for contemporary theatre by supporting them to present more touring work.  Now it has launched greenhouse to address the same challenges through the creation of new work.

“There’s no shortage of theatre being made, venues to present it or people to see it,” says Richard Kingdom, greenhouse project manager, “and yet theatre makers struggle to get bookings, programmers tell us that they can’t find suitable work and attracting an audience is everyone’s biggest challenge.  This is where greenhouse begins.  We are seed funding new pieces of theatre that respond to the ambitions of the theatre makers as well as the venues and connect with people that they might ultimately hope to speak to as an audience.”

We put a call out for proposals but unlike other schemes, these had to be partnership bids from theatre makers and venues and describe a specific relationship with an audience.  To select which of these projects to invest in, we brought together a panel of people who were excited about greenhouse’s approach: Caroline Horton (theatre maker), Katy Snelling (Oxford Playhouse), Sarah Murray (National Theatre Studio), Cass Mathers (Arts Council England) and Alison Holdom (Esmée Fairbairn Foundation).

The resulting awards are deliberately in very early-stage research and development periods, encouraging applicants to test a creative process that might re-make links between theatre makers, venues and audiences.  These include Take the Space working with boxers and Quakers local to Norden Farm in Maidenhead to develop ideas for their new show, White Feather Boxer; Root Theatre bringing writer Natalie Mitchell back to her home town of Gillingham to seed ideas for a new play with local ship-venue, LV21; and Marlborough Theatre in Brighton supporting performance duo Mars.tarrab to be in residence with the local Roller Derby team.  Our hope is that many, if not all of these ideas will be realised but we have committed to making additional investments in three of the initial projects to support them to full production.

We’ve also been seeking out opportunities to increase our usefulness by working with other organisations who share our ambitions.  So we’ve teamed up with South Hill Park’s SHPLive.TV on UPstream, a new commission to seed fund three pieces which embrace the potential of digital streaming to engage audiences live and online.  One of these is Pursued by a Bear’s The Lamellar Project which incorporates an international webinar into a performance that is both local and global, taking place between the UK and US.  We’re also running a free lab with SHPLive.TV to help familiarise artists with the technology and possibilities of live streaming.

We’re optimistic about greenhouse’s potential to shift the status quo over the next three years by enabling theatre makers and venues to pursue new approaches to creating work and engaging audiences.  We hope that contemporary theatre will be a part of more people’s lives in the South East and East of England as a result.


greenhouse projects:

  • Take the Space is going to Norden Farm Arts Centre in Maidenhead to work with a boxing club and local Quakers to seed ideas for their new play, White Feather Boxer
  • Root Theatre is bringing an emerging writer back to her home town of Gillingham to explore ideas for a new play about the town with the support of new venue LV21
  • Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre is working with Townsend Productions to assemble a community choir to tell the story of the Chartist Movement and its links to the town
  • Marlborough Theatre in Brighton is hooking up theatre duo Mars.tarrab with the local roller derby team as the starting point for a new piece
  • GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN and Colchester Arts Centre are engaging ‘grey radicals’ through a project with celebrated performers Bette Bourne and Paul Shaw
  • South Street in Reading is working with artists based in the city to create a piece for the recently decommissioned Reading Prison
  • Fevered Sleep is going to the Quarterhouse in Folkestone to work with local dance schools on the development of Men Dance with Girls
  • The Old Market in Brighton is deepening its relationship with local artists by supporting Victoria Melody in a new project with her star-of-TV-antique-shows father
  • Cornerstone in Didcot is supporting the creation of new work for the first time, seeding a new piece for young children with Canterbury’s Gulbenkian Theatre
  • The Plasticine Men are brokering relationships with Immigrant Retention Centres and their local settled communities to begin testing ideas for a new show


UPstream projects:

  • Pursued by a Bear are working with Philadelphia’s Tiny Dynamite on a virtual R&D process for a new show that will be part live performance, part online webinar
  • Simon Farid is extending his ‘identity squatting’ of Michael Green, the internet entrepreneur and alter-ego of Grant Shapps MP
  • Catharina Cronenberger Golebiowska is exploring ideas for a piece about Mars One, the one-way colonising mission financed by the TV rights


For further information please visit the greenhouse section of house website.