All artistic development, from new play commissions, to the workshopping of devised projects and the evolution of new treatments of classic texts, is led by the New Work Department. Under the leadership of Head of New Work, Emily McLaughlin and the Deputy Head of New Work Sarah Jane Murray, it brings together the research and development values of the NT Studio with the script commissioning and textual development work of the Literary Department.
The New Work Department aims to create the optimum conditions for writers and artists, enabling the NT to increase the amount of new work on its stages and ensuring that every project receives the highest levels of creative scrutiny and support. The team identifies and nurtures emerging talent as well as providing a dynamic and informed dramaturgical conversation with mid-career and established artists to support them in making the best possible work.
The New Work Department is a place for exploring new forms, embracing a diversity of ideas and talent, all the time keeping questions about audience and the programming priorities of the National Theatre at its heart. Simultaneously the Department works with a diverse group of theatres, writers and artists, offering resources and support to development of work for stages around the UK.
The New Work Department is the principal interface between the National Theatre and writers. The department aims to identify, evaluate and recommend appropriate dramatic material to the Director, Deputy Artistic Director and the Associate Directors to enable the construction and delivery of a programme of the highest possible quality and the broadest possible range.
This work of the department includes circulating scripts within the building; assessing unsolicited submissions from the UK and recommended submissions from elsewhere; identifying and supporting emerging talent by offering play readings, workshops and attachments, commissioning and developing new plays and adaptations; commissioning new translations of classic plays from the world repertoire and contemporary non-English texts and continuously scrutinising the playwriting canon to rediscover the great and neglected plays which need to be revived.
Every year the New Work Department offers around 25 attachments to a variety of artists, including writers, directors, choreographers and designers. Attachments can last anything from two weeks to three months, and are designed to enable artists to be resident at the NT Studio, with a desk, a computer, a phone and all the benefits and familial connection that being part of the Studio team entails. Attachments are given by invitation.
With the arrival of Rufus Norris as Director, the NT is prioritising the delivery of training opportunities for artists across a range of levels and from all backgrounds. These programmes will begin to be rolled out during 2016.
The NT has some of the largest stages in the country and we want to ensure we are supporting artists in their capacity to cope with the demands of these spaces. One central priority for artist development is to focus on mid-career artists who are beginning to make work on main stages around the country. The Department is keen to see the work of more emerging artists but has limited capacity and cannot see the work of everyone who approaches the NT.
The National employs a number of Staff Directors, whose responsibility it is to rehearse understudies and look after Lyttelton and Olivier productions once they have opened. Staff Directors are managed through the New Work Department, and we normally have around 6-8 artists working with us as Staff Directors at any one time.