New, year-round, creative engagement projects and artist development opportunities announced

News 2 Dec 2021

Today we launch a range of dynamic, year-round creative engagement and artist development opportunities for participants across Scotland, the UK and Ireland throughout 2022.

Designed to ignite and empower creativity in those at all levels of experience, they offer the widest access yet for new voices and stories to begin their journeys toward the Traverse’s stages.

So whether you're brand new to creative writing or have a full-length play ready for production, if you have a story to tell that is for and from the world we live in, and want to bring audiences together to reconnect, rebuild, challenge preconceptions, open up new worlds, and be entertained, we hope you’ll get involved.

The world around us has changed, and so have we. So what story do you need to tell?

Literary Manager, Eleanor White, said:

“We are absolutely thrilled to be launching a brand new series of creative engagement activities throughout 2022, which we hope will empower even more people than ever before to explore their innate creativity. Whether you’re brand new to creative writing or have had work previously produced, you’ll find something to help you develop and expand your craft and embolden your voice. If you have an exciting idea or story that you feel needs told, we want to hear from you!

We’re particularly excited to be welcoming Shilpa T-Hyland and Katherine Nesbitt, who have both directed recent productions, to the Traverse as Associate Artists. Both will be instrumental in helping realise these ambitious projects and increasing our creative output. We also feel very lucky to have the incredible Stef Smith and Mariem Omari leading writing groups that will offer writers the opportunity to connect and develop their craft over several months. We can’t wait to be transported, challenged, entertained, and to celebrate these writers’ work with our audiences.

We’ll share more information about how to get involved in January – keep an eye on our website and social channels for all the latest news and we hope you’ll join us in the new year.”



Breakthrough Writers is a duo of new, interconnected creative development initiatives that begins with supporting new creative voices with little or no writing experience through a series of mentoring, coaching and dramaturgical sessions, after which participants have the opportunity of a first full-length play reading at the Traverse – and whatever else may come beyond…


A new initiative open to anyone living in Scotland aged 18 or over, the new Breakthrough Writers: Launchpad is a digital writers’ group, led by award-winning playwright Stef Smith (Enough, Girl in the Machine, Swallow for the Traverse Theatre), which will offer a completely free 3 month course of mentoring to 10 individuals from across Scotland. Participants require no writing experience, and will be supported from idea generation through to the first draft of a script, which can be submitted for Breakthrough Writers: In Residence in 2023.

Applications open Jan 2022. There will be no cost to participate.


A reset of the Traverse’s much loved and lauded Open Submissions initiative, Breakthrough Writers: In Residence has been developed to identify the most exciting voices writing in the UK & Ireland, right now. Open to anyone over the age of 18 currently living in the UK and Ireland, it encourages the submission of anonymised, full-length stage scripts from writers at any stage of their career.

Six writers will then be selected to receive 6 months of bespoke mentoring and dramaturgical development from the Traverse Artistic Team, including Artistic Director Gareth Nicholls, Literary Manager Eleanor White and a range of Associate Artists, to each develop a full-length play - culminating in readings of each, in their entirety, in early November 2022.

Submissions will be open from Jan-Mar 2022. Residencies will take place from May-Oct, with public readings in Nov.

Breakthrough Writers is generously supported by the Idlewild Trust.



The first iteration of the new Creating Space Writers’ Group recognises the need to create a safe and supported environment for Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse early- and mid-career writers, based in Scotland, to further develop their creativity and work. Led by Mariem Omari (Revolution Days, One Mississippi, If I Had a Girl…), the group will run across several months, and provide a mix of industry mentorship, script development, and advice on the business of theatremaking from a range of experienced facilitators.

Applications open in late spring 2022. There will be no cost to participate.



The Traverse’s highly successful First Stages Festival will return to showcase new plays by artists making their Traverse playwriting debut - which in 2021 included the first rehearsed reading performance of the now Popcorn Award-winning This is Paradise by Michael John O'Neill - alongside new development opportunities to writers, artists and audiences around the world on a range of topics and themes. Including workshops, discussions, and with many events continuing to take place digitally, audiences can create their own bespoke development programme according to their own needs.

Full line up announced in Feb 2022.

First Stages Festival 2022 is generously supported by the Dr David Summers Charitable Trust.



Six writers who have developed their craft with the Traverse and submitted scripts to our 2020 Open Submissions window have been selected for personal creative and script development with the Traverse’s Literary Manager, Artistic Team, Associate Artists and a company of theatremakers, ahead of public readings of their full-length scripts in February 2022 as part of the First Stages Festival.

We are delighted to announce the selected writers and pieces being developed during their attachments are:

TOBOJO by Jack Gemmell

This Game Right Here by Aaron Gordon

Cow and Pig by Ava Hickey

Yes Chef by Laurie Ogden

The Cleaner by Kate Reid

Soldiers by Fraser Scott

Public readings will take place in Feb 2022.



We are thrilled to welcome directors Shilpa T-Hyland and Katherine Nesbitt to the Traverse Artistic Team as Associate Artists.

Shilpa has worked with the Traverse as Associate Director on Crocodile Fever by Meghan Tyler and Still by Frances Poet, and as director of audio play We’ll Meet in Moscow by Natalie McGrath. Katherine directed the world premiere of Michael John O’Neill’s This is Paradise during TravFest21, and was Associate Director on the 2020 revival and international tour of Mouthpiece by Kieran Hurley.

Over the next year both artists will support the delivery of our creative engagement activities, and direct future work. They will work closely with writers and other theatremakers to bring new work to the Traverse’s stages and platforms - in Edinburgh, Scotland and across the world – and be a powerful force in support of breakthrough artists.



Championing creative writing for all and working alongside these new initiatives, popular programmes Traverse Young Writers will continue to run in Spring and Autumn 2022, and Class Act will continue its 30th year of creative engagement activity, with a range of special events planned.


Creative Engagement and Development projects at the Traverse are generously supported by The Cruden Foundation, The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Dr David Summers Charitable Trust, The McGlashan Charitable Trust, The Murdoch Forrest Charitable Trust, The Nancie Massey Charitable Trust, and The Robert Haldane Smith Charitable Foundation.

Breakthrough Writers is generously supported by the Idlewild Trust.