How to get into theatre | Courses, scratch nights, free groups | London

Some of my friends are graduating soon, or have recently graduated, and are wanting to work in the arts sector. We’ve been chatting about theatres to apply at or good schemes to look into so this is a list for them; and you, too, if you like. This is not an exhaustive list and just some things off of the top of my head, so let me know if there’s any others and I’ll update as frequently as possible.

Pub Theatres | Pitch to these!

Etcetera Theatre in Camden, Drayton Arms Theatre in Kensington, Tabard Theatre in Turnham Green, Lion & Unicorn in Kentish Town, Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham, Katzpace in London Bridge, Space Arts Centre in Isle of Dogs, Theatre 503 in Battersea.

Scratch Nights & Reading Weeks

Pleasance Theatre: Pleasance do loads of cool stuff including a ‘reading week’ where you can read your plays aloud in front of an audience, a ‘scratch night’, and lots of other workshops, as well as taking a company of young people to Edinburgh each year. The main page for it is here

Yard Theatre: The Yard run a regular week called ‘Live Drafts’ for artists who want to show draft performances of their work in whatever stage it is in. Can be play readings, performance art, dance, anything. They also accept script submissions! More info here

New Diorama: The New Diorama do a lot to support new companies, especially ones going to Edinburgh Fringe. They have a scheme for emerging graduate companies, too.

Lyric Hammersmith: Usually do call outs for scratch pieces for festivals, quite sporadically. I recently took part in a scratch night for their ‘Evolution Festival’ and the staff there are very lovely and supportive!

Camden People’s Theatre: Callouts for regular festivals including Calm Down Dear and SPRINT. They also have other festivals with different themes throughout the year. You can also invite the staff at CPT to see your work.

VAULT Festival: Applications for this three-month festival open in the summer. It’s a pretty big one in London, and a lot of stuff that starts its life here ends up going to other places, including Fringe. More here.

National Student Drama Festival: Takes place around Easter each year, and is a good one to apply for if you’re a student/under 25 who have a show you’d like to take further. If you don’t get in as a show, it’s still great to attend the festival and see things, as well as go to the workshops and meet lots of very cool arts-y people. There’s also opportunities to get involved on the technical or management teams, or as part of Noises Off magazine as a critic. More here.

Battersea Arts Centre: Battersea Arts Centre often hold regular scratch nights throughout the year, including ones outside.

Camden Fringe: Camden Fringe applications are open from January-March for the summer, and are a good alternative to Edinburgh if you live in London. More here.

HATCH: Brainchild Festival’s scratch night HATCH operates around every 6 weeks in Southwark. They take on a variety of work – from play readings to Cabaret – as long as the pieces last 10-15 minutes or less. Applications are rolling.
The festival are also looking for volunteer writers and photographers to cover the festival.


Soho Theatre: Run a variety of workshops including Cabaret and Drag, stand-up, sketch comedy (done this! was great!), and an Edinburgh Lab. They also run a year-long Writers’ Lab for playwrights. Find out more here.

Almeida Theatre: The Almeida run a couple of cool training platforms for young people, including Young Producers and Young Critics. They also have a Young Company of performers, as well as apprenticeships in wardrobe, stage management, and technical. Applications usually open in September. You can find more here

Barbican Centre: The Barbican also run some groups for young people, including Young Poets and Young Reviewers schemes.

Royal Court: The Royal Court run a few groups, including one for writers and several for young people. including a Young Agitators group and workshops called ReAct.

National Theatre: Obviously, the NT have their National Youth Theatre summer schools which are great (though very costly). Throughout the year the Learning department have various short courses and Space to Create weekends which people aged 16-21 can take part in. These include performing, clowning, directing, special effects, and more. They also run a Young Technicians and Stage Managers group which work alongside performers during the Space to Create weekends.

Seeing Shows

You can read all about getting cheaper tickets for shows in my handy little blog post. It’s regularly updated, too, so do check back if there’s a specific theatre you plan on going to!

If you want to get into reviewing (which can involve seeing shows for free) then great places to start reviewing include A Younger Theatre and London Theatre 1. Fellow blogger Emma of Upper Circle is also looking for new reviewers!

People to follow

Naturally, follow the theatres and companies you’re interested in to see if they post about opportunities or jobs. But here’s some other people:

Linda Bloomfield posts a Twitter thread each week called Opportunity Tuesday. The thread has ten+ arts jobs or opportunities in for a variety of creatives. These might include jobs, bursaries, callouts for new work etc

Arts Jobs is a natural place to go if you’re looking for work. This includes both full, part-time, and one off jobs.

BOSSY is a Facebook group for female/non-binary creatives. It can get a little hectic in there, but people do post about jobs and opportunities and great things can come out of it!


If you’ve got any tips for accessible training courses, pub theatres, or regular scratch nights, then drop a comment below or send me a tweet @daniella_ann28

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