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Peter Shaffer Commissions

My Country a work in progress production image, with an actor as Britannia sat on a bench surrounded by people clapping

Peter Shaffer Commissions

The National Theatre has partnered with the Sir Peter Shaffer Charitable Foundation in committing to supporting playwrights  with an initial two-year collaboration. Celebrating the life and career of Sir Peter Shaffer, this partnership will continue his desire to support playwrights as they create larger scale plays.

Awarding a total of 14 commissions over the next two years for playwrights from across the UK, we will work closely with regional companies and theatres to identify future talent. Of the seven commissions each year, two will be given for plays being developed by the National Theatre and five will be an open call to theatres and companies from across the UK, working in partnership with the National Theatre. All commissions will be for plays with more than three characters.

Details of how to apply for commission support and an application form are available below.

Rufus Norris, Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre, said:  

“We’re thrilled to be working in partnership with the Sir Peter Shaffer Charitable Foundation. Sir Peter was one of the great writers of his generation and the National Theatre was enormously lucky to have such a fruitful and creative relationship with him. In nurturing talent from across the UK, this partnership will continue Sir Peter’s legacy, inspiring and supporting emerging talent.” 

Speaking about Peter Shaffer, Actor Lucian Msamati said:  

“Sir Peter tinkered for years with the confrontation scene between Mozart and Salieri in Amadeus long after the play’s acclaim on stage and screen. This obsessive, gleeful, rigorous love and dedication to his craft is mind-blowing and inspirational to me.  I can think of no greater way to honour this master storyteller than by nurturing and supporting that same spirit and endeavour in generations of great storytellers to come.” 


Image: My Country; a work in progress at the National Theatre © Sarah Lee

Application criteria

The Peter Shaffer commissions are supported by the Sir Peter Shaffer Charitable Foundation and are for new plays with three or more characters in them.

The commissions are for original new works, and not adaptations.  We are unable to support musical commissioning.


  • How many commissions are going to be awarded?

Up to five commissions will be awarded.

  • How much money will be awarded?

£6,000 is awarded per commission. This is the average of a few different models and covers the first signature payment and delivery fees to writer. The producing company will later need to pay an acquisition payment if the play is staged.

  • When does the application process close?

At 10am on Monday 27 June 2022

  • When will we findout if we’re successful?

Early August 2022

  • Who can apply for a commissions?

The commissions are open to companies and venues who already commission writers.  We are looking to award to places which already have a support network established which brings writers work to stages. Commissions can be touring or building based. 

  • Can I apply as a writer?

No, you need to be put forward by a company who intend to produce the play in the future.

  • Can I apply if I live outside the UK?

No, this opportunity is only available to UK residents.

  • Can we co-commission with the National Theatre?

You’re welcome to co-commission with other organisations, but this isn’t for approaching the National Theatre.

  • How will the National Theatre interact with the commission once it’s awarded?

Once the grant has been awarded it’s up to you to pay the writer their signature and delivery fees.  The National Theatre’s role is to act as a mechanism to award the commissions.

  • Can I submit more than one application?

Each company can apply once each year.

  • Can we apply with a one- person show?

The Shaffer commissions are to support plays with three or more characters in them.  Peter Shaffer was passionate about creating big new works and we feel it’s important to honour his wishes.

  • What credit will the Peter Shaffer Foundation need?

The Shaffer Foundation request an acknowledgment of their commissioning support on all materials relating to the production.

  • Will the play be staged at the National Theatre?

No – it will not. We hope the commission will be staged by the company who applied for the grant.

  • Will these commissions be available to apply for next year?

Yes. The National Theatre has committed to delivering the Shaffer commissions for a minimum of two years.

  • Can we apply to create an adaptation or musical?

No. In line with the aims of the Shaffer Foundation, we’re only looking to award for original new works.

  • Are there any artistic stipulations or things the National Theatre is looking for?

No. What you choose to submit is entirely up to you.

  • I have submitted my application, but would like to make an amendment, is this possible?

Once an application has been submitted, it may not be possible to make changes. Please take the time to ensure everything is correct before you submit your application. If you have outstanding queries, please email [email protected]

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