Applause Rural Touring have launched Applause Outdoors 2016,
bringing interactive family-friendly performances for outdoor events and
Applause Outdoors is offering six
professional, contemporary arts performances to outdoor community
events, fetes and festivals across Kent, East Sussex and West Sussex in
Three companies have been given development awards to build
exciting, interactive performances, especially for outdoor events of
The companies and shows are:
Beautiful Creatures Theatre: OCTO-POT
humorous and charming new walkabout performance, led by a quirky chef
and his red and white checked serving trolley. Audiences will be
surprised and delighted by the giant and grumpy octopus puppet as it
emerges from the smoking, bubbling cooking pot, to play games, have a
dance and fight an epic battle.
The Honk Project: The Dancing Day Trippers
eccentric vintage moped enthusiasts; a shining moped with a
state-of-the-art sidecar, lots of instruments and a whole load of swing
and jive are the main ingredients of The Honk Project’s latest
delightful walkabout show!
Strangeface Theatre: Beached and Spaced
Using a tabletop as a puppet stage and silent disco style headphones Strangeface Theatre tell tiny tales suitable for all ages.
co-commission from Applause and Gulbenkian bOing! International Family
Festival for the development of a new family-friendly outdoor piece has
been awarded to:
Acrojou: All At Sea
Sea is a roving performance combining interactive theatre with new
technologies, melancholic humour, and the visual poetry for which
Acrojou is renowned. All At Sea is an interactive ‘row-about’,
consisting of a tiny wooden boat with its own fully functioning, mobile
storm, complete with thunder and lightning flashes. Follow the ship’s
pilot as he navigates his course all the while followed by his comically
suspended cloud and continuous downpour.
We are also touring outdoor work by companies previously supported by Applause. The companies and shows are:
Dizzy O’Dare: The Giant Balloon Show
A crazy one-man show which sees the performer end up inside a giant balloon
Eric MacLennan: A Voyage Around My Bedroom
extraordinary piece of art crossed with theatre where visitors are
invited into a large Perspex cube containing a bed and are guided on a
mini voyage around the room in the manner of a grand explorer.
Full details about the performances can be found in the Applause Outdoors Menu that you can download from the Applause website.
We’re delighted to be inviting applications from artists, performers
and producers as we work towards our bi-annual rural touring showcase
festival, New Directions, which will take place at Falmouth University’s
Academy of Music and Theatre Arts next year.
aim of the event, taking place from 5-7 July 2016, is to introduce
delegates to exciting high quality work suitable for rural touring and
similarly to introduce a range of new artists and companies to the rural
Following on from their successful work for New
Directions in both 2012 and 2014, China Plate have once again been
engaged by NRTF to curate a programme for the 3-day event. New
Directions 2016 will showcase a range of entertaining, surprising and
stimulating performances which they describe as “being made for the curious and characterised by a spirit of adventure”.
the aim of selecting bold and exciting work from a diverse range of
artists that reflect the breadth and diversity of work presented by the
rural touring network, we are seeking applications from all disciplines
undertaking innovative work across the spectrum of contemporary theatre
Whilst actively seeking to engage with artists new to
rural touring and to work with emerging artists, we also hope to feature
established companies who are already familiar with rural touring but
who are working on exciting, fresh new ideas and have aspirations to
increase their reach to rural audiences.
Companies that are
developing work ready to tour to UK rural venues following New
Directions from Autumn 2016 through to Autumn 2018 will be prioritised.
Whilst the working group are particularly looking for tour ready work, a
limited number of shows in development will also be considered.
showcase programme will be selected by a working group of China Plate,
Carn to Cove (the Rural Touring Scheme for Cornwall and New Directions
2016 co-hosts) and the NRTF.
Companies interested in applying to be a part of New Directions should visit the Our Work section of our website, where you can download artist information and the application form.
Applications should be submitted by 14 February 2016 with successful applicants being notified by the end of March 2016.
Spot On, Lancashire’s Touring Network, celebrate 20 years of rural touring this year – happy birthday from all of us here at the NRTF! Sue Robinson, Spot On Director, looks back on the past 20 years:
Spot On Lancashire will be 20 this autumn. I can’t take the credit for starting it up, but I have been running it for a very long time. That’s the thing about rural touring. The sector nationally is full of people who find out how wonderful it is, and then stay put. Artists, managers and volunteer promoters.
Rural touring in England has been around for nearly three decades, and across England there are 36 networks and 2,000 village venues who are part of what we could now call a ‘movement’. Yet sometimes we struggle to be seen. It’s the little roads, I think, you have to look hard for them. Rural touring is not as visible as a traditional arts venue. We only exist when a show ‘pops up’ in a community.
This was just at the beginning of email, facebook didn’t exist, you had a long wait whilst lines formed for your webpage, and a time before the lottery. You would wait three months to hear about your £1,000 application to the regional arts board. Arts for Everyone transformed Spot On in 1998 when we joined a successful NRTF national bid. This set us on our journey to being regularly funded by North West Arts Board in 2002, and now part of the national portfolio. That investment, partnered with local authority support, has transformed the UK rural arts landscape and raised ambitions and expectations.
Plenty of North West and UK artists have sustained a living, touring into rural areas across the country. We must be well over 1,500 Spot On events.
Spot On’s first Autumn season brochure from 1995 and their 10th Anniversary brochure from 2015
It’s not just about halls. We’ve placed work in churches, parks, campervans, storage cupboards, and even a metal whale on wheels. If we can fit an artist and an audience in it, it’s a venue.
The events wouldn’t happen without volunteers. They are the backbone of the network and about 40% of our service is delivered by people willing to give their time for free.
We became part of the new Northern Consortium, set up in 1999 following a successful bid to the Millennium Commission. In partnership with five other northern networks, we continue to support artists new to rural touring to develop work for the sector. This isn’t just about introducing artists to new audiences, it’s about nurturing talent, and assisting artists in sustaining a career in rural England.
Bringing international artists to the county is important. We’ve also connected the Centre of the UK with Middle Earth, hosting New Zealand musicians in Dunsop Bridge. It keeps us connected to the wider world, puts us on the map, and encourages tourism (they all go exploring when they are here). It gives people an idea that no hall is too small, or audience too remote.
Spot On’s 20th anniversary tour publicity
How will we look in 20 years time? It’s impossible to say. Two years ahead is daunting. Digital technology moves so fast, we have satellite broadcasting, and new ideas and new companies will develop and emerge.Funding will change, and priorities will shift. Communities will change too. But if we are still around, it’s due to artists, communities and investors all sticking together like glue; because time has shown that rural touring is an all round good thing.
The National Rural Touring Forum has joined forces with The Place,
Take Art and China Plate to launch a brand new 3 year initiative for
touring and making dance to and for rural areas and are seeking an
experienced Project Manager to underpin the project.
This is a
key role and principal duties include brokering relationships between
rural touring schemes, local volunteer village hall promoters, dance
companies and artists and ensuring the programme of activity is
integrated and delivered to an agreed timeline and on budget.
Deadline for applications is Monday 2nd November 2015.
Interviews will be held at Take Art, South Petherton, Somerset on Friday 27th November 2015.
Click here for more information and to download the recruitment pack and application form.
Big congratulations from all of us here at the NRTF to Jackie Hagan, who has won a Creative Future Literary Award for her show Some People Have Too Many Legs!
Creative Future Literary Awards is a national literary competition and
high profile awards ceremony which celebrates talented writers who lack
opportunities due to mental health issues, disability, health or social
circumstance. Winners are selected by a panel of industry experts and
prizes include £1000 of cash prizes & professional writing
Colin Hambrook, of Disability Arts Online, reviewing the awards ceremony said: “I
was struck by the affectionate portrait of Jackie Hagan’s ‘Edna’: a
character whose impossible spirit cannot fail to invigorate. Edna
features in Jackie’s one-woman show ‘Some People Have Too Many Legs’,
which is a must-see when it tours again this winter.”
Some People Have Too Many Legs was developed as part of the partnership between Contact Theatre and
the NRTF and Jackie is back on the road again this Autumn from 5th
October. Full tour dates can be found here.
Nationally renowned producing theatre and an
international line-up among the highlights touring rural venues
throughout the country this autumn
the National Rural Touring Forum once again dispel the misconception
that the best art and cutting edge live performances can only be seen in
the country’s major, cosmopolitan cities as a myriad of artists tour to
what may be by some seen as less conventional venues this autumn and
With the standard, variety and quantity of work on offer
being extremely high, it has been a challenge for NRTF’s Development
Director, Ralph Lister, to select his season highlights: “The
quality of productions available on the Rural Touring circuit is truly
phenomenal – something that constantly amazes people when they attend
for the first time.” Ralph commented, adding: “This season, as
ever, there is a staggering array of shows on offer featuring an
eclectic mix of styles and genres, choosing a few highlights has been an
almost impossible task”.
Included in the line-up leaving the
cities behind is a production from the globally renowned West Yorkshire
Playhouse, a Norwegian contemporary dance company and a
Beryl – West Yorkshire Playhouse
rural touring for the first time, West Yorkshire Playhouse have taken
to the road with their acclaimed production of Maxine Peake’s Beryl.
Originally premiered at their Leeds home in 2014, the story follows the
life of unsung sporting legend Beryl Burton “the greatest woman on two
wheels”. Having received a string of hit reviews from respected national
theatre critics, its arrival on the rural touring circuit in the form
of a specially reworked, technically simpler version demonstrates
clearly the strength of work available as part of these schemes.
Brining, Artistic Director of West Yorkshire Playhouse is a strong
advocate of touring to venues throughout the community: “Being out
in the communities is absolutely fundamental to what the Playhouse is
about for me. It’s important because I believe we have a responsibility
to give as many people as possible the opportunity to experience what we
do. But it’s not just about our responsibility to make our work
accessible, I also love the atmosphere and environment that this
approach generates in the venues we visit.”
Joe Hennessey of Rural Arts North Yorkshire, one the schemes working with the West Yorkshire Playhouse on this project, said: “It
is the first time West Yorkshire Playhouse have toured one of their
shows rurally, and the opportunity to work with such an established
theatre is something we cannot wait to do.”
Behind The Mirror – Panta Rei Danseteater
first toured with Artsreach in Dorset in 2011, Norwegian contemporary
dance company Panta Rei Danseteater return with Behind The Mirror.
Featuring the Oslo-based company’s trademark of stunning choreography
coupled with a distinctive soundscape, this take on the classic Alice
Through The Looking Glass will be appearing with Take Art in Somerset, Rural Arts Wiltshire and Artsreach in Dorset and across the South West of England this November.
Audiences are ensured of a high paced, colourful dance experience with pulsating performances that are fantastically accessible.
Every Brilliant Thing – Paines Plough / Pentabus
The impressive combination of two champions of new writing, Paines Plough and Pentabus, head to Cheshire with Rural Touring Arts, to Hampshire with Hog the Limelight and to the Highlands with The Touring Network amongst other destinations to present a bold new play about depression
and the lengths we will go to for those we love. Each performance will
be unique with members of the audiences being directly involved with the
Described by Lyn Gardner as “one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see about depression – and possibly one of the funniest plays you’ll ever seem full stop”, this show, and its themes, will appeal to a wide range of audiences as
well as reaching out to local mental health support groups.
The Red Chair – Clod Ensemble
Clod Ensemble made their mark at last year’s NRTF showcase with a stunning extract
from this dark, original fairy tale. It is fantastic for rural touring
that this surreal ballad is included in this exciting season.
acclaimed writer/performer Sarah Cameron as she works with Take Art in
Somerset to take you on a journey through a world of extreme compulsion
and eye watering complacency, where domestic drudgery happens on an
operatic scale and a father’s dereliction of duty reaches epic
Dracula – Rabbit Theatre
The award-winning Rabbit Theatre and
the ‘outrageously versatile’ performer David Mynne, who will be well
known for his extensive work with Cornish theatre company, Kneehigh –
bring his one-man performance of Bram Stoker’s classic tale of the
vampire. This monstrous, disturbing (and completely batty) tale of dark
deeds, brought to rural touring by Pound Arts and Rural Arts Wiltshire,
will thrill and seduce audiences (though children under 12 are advised
not to attend).
The Devil’s Larder – Grid Iron Theatre Company
First produced for Cork 2005 European Capital of Culture, The Devil’s Larder is
now coming exclusively to the Highlands with The Touring Network. This
critically acclaimed site-specific promenade production based on the
novel by Jim Crace examines how food can act as a catalyst for
unleashing our fears, desires and taboos.
Sophie Backhouse, of Rural Arts North Yorkshire, tells us about their FRESH pay-what-you-think initiative:
Last year we trialled a few pay-what-you-think events as a new way of marketing hard to sell performances.
this was really a one-off idea to inspire audiences to give shows a go.
However, we received brilliant feedback, with audience members
mentioning that they attended because they didn’t have to commit
financially, but then really enjoyed the show. So we realised it was a
novel way of drawing people in to shows that they may not have heard of,
or performance styles we haven’t often programmed.
At the start
of 2015 we decided to put this approach in to practice, programming a
summer of ‘Fresh’ performances which were all pay-what-you-think. We
decided to use this platform to offer opportunities to emerging artists,
as a way of viewing performances that haven’t been shown before or
working with companies that were very new. We could then talk to them
about the idea of rural touring and how their show could be adapted to
work with us, this included advice on staging, marketing etc.
Spoken word artist, Vanessa Kisuule
also used this opportunity to increase our programming of performance
poetry, being situated in Thirsk you would normally have to visit York
to see a performance poetry night. With the pay-what-you-think aspect
performance poetry was very successful, with people attending that had
never visited Rural Arts before.
Audience feedback included:
“Totally refreshing to see a vibrant spoken word show in Thirsk. Great as a ‘Pay what you think’ event” “It
is a privilage and a delight to have an oppertunity to experience live
poetry being performed. Thank you to the poet and Rural Arts” “Not a poerty person usually – this was a revelation!”
only drawback to this initiative is discussing artists fees, as you
don’t know how much the performance will make. However, everyone we
worked with was up for the challenge and appreciated the idea. We found
that you often have to find the right balance of quality, as even though
it’s essentially free to attend potential audience goers still wanted
to see a high quality performance. We would recommend giving the idea a
go, as it worked for us at The Courthouse.
A summary of the key findings and recommendations from the evaluation
of the three-year partnership between the NRTF and Contact Theatre has
been posted in the Our Work section of the NRTF site.
the aim of producing new solo shows aimed at young audiences through
the creation of a young promoters network, tthe project started with
Maxwell Golden’s Countryboy’s Struggle in 2012/13, continued with Sophie Willan’s The Novice Detective in 2013/2014 and came to completion with Jackie Hagan’s Some People Have Too Many Legs in 2015.
Twenty-five touring schemes took part in the project, hosting 120 performances over the three years.
The evaluation includes recommendations in areas including:
organisational capacity for the producing partners
capacity building and skills development for small rural venues
involvement of young people in the commissioning and programming processes
considerations around marketing to a range of new audiences
The NRTF and Contact Theatre will be discussing in the Autumn what the next phase of development for the project might be.
In summer 2016, Applause Rural Touring will be
programming outdoor performances into existing, locally organised
village fetes, community festivals and similar events in Kent and
Sussex. These events take place almost exclusively at weekends from May
We are looking for companies / artists with an
established interest and track record of working outdoors and
interactively who would like to be part of this programme. We are
• Existing work which is in need of some development.
The Honk Project – The Dancing Day Trippers (Applause Outdoors 2015)
There is a total budget of £6,000 available to support up to 4 companies / artists to develop shows which have content appropriate for a village fete or
local festival setting. Work should entertain and engage audiences, be
self-sufficient (i.e. not require technical or other support /
involvement by the host organisation) and be able to be accessed by
diverse, non-age specific audiences in a range of time frames (i.e. does not require the audience to arrive at a certain time and remain for a set amount of time).
dates will be booked only on satisfactory development of the piece and
an agreed show fee (please see show fee guide below).
• Technical Challenges
will be placing work in a variety of community settings including
events that can provide very little technical or other support – the
more technical requirements you have, the fewer the possible bookings.
piece will have to fit around other events in the host event programmes
so please consider whether you require the audience to arrive at a
certain time and remain for a set amount of time.
• Show Fee Guide
hope to offer each artist/company about 7 bookings between May –
September 2016. We expect a one-person show to go out for £350, a
two-hander for £450 and a maximum of £550 for a show with a cast of 3 or
more. (If you are applying, please ensure your piece is tourable within
these price guides, the fee must include your travel costs)
• Artist / Company Administration
/ company administration needs to be strong. Applause will be
responsible for booking a place and date for your show but the company
will then be responsible for making specific arrangements and finalising
details with host venues and promoters. Many of these hosts are
volunteers and have no specialist theatre knowledge – you will need to
be flexible and understanding.
You need to have very good availability for weekends throughout May to September 2016.
send a proposal (no longer than 2 sides of A4 – we cannot consider
proposals that exceed this. Please do not send lots of images we’d
prefer website links to examples of your work) including:
• Your background / track record
A description of the piece proposed for this project and which elements
you want to develop (e.g. you need to build a new piece of staging; you
want to bring in someone to teach you specific skills; you want
directorial or dramaturgical advice on the piece).
• An indication of how much money is required and what you will spend it on
will expect most of the development work to take place between November
2015 and March 2016. Applause will require evidence (photos and / or
video) of the work undertaken. Applause will provide support and
practical advice during the development process.
Please send proposals by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Applause Outdoors 2016 Proposal” by 9am Monday 21st September 2015.
If you have been shortlisted, you will be notified by email by Friday
2nd October 2015. We will acknowledge receipt of your proposal, however,
we regret we are unable to provide feedback to non-shortlisted
The Touring Network (Highlands & Islands) are pleased to announce the appointment of Jo McLean as their Chief Executive Officer, a new post that has been created in order to consolidate and grow this innovative and creative company in one of the most spectacular regions of Scotland.
A former classical musician, who has played and toured with world class orchestras including the Hallé Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Opera and BBC orchestras, Jo joined the team at Cove Park in 2006, supporting the visual arts and crafts residencies and developing a series of music residencies to support emerging musicians and composers. In 2011 Jo became senior producer for UZ Arts where she developed and produced a wide range of festivals and events, including one of the signature events for Homecoming 2014 – the International Launch of The Kelpies and the John Muir Festival. Jo has worked as a consultant and producer across Scotland and internationally, commissioning small and large scale works across a wide range of art forms. More recently she has specialised in site responsive work in a European context.
“I am delighted to be joining the Touring Network and am very much looking forward to continuing the exciting work already underway.” Jo McLean
Jo will take up the post of Chief Executive Officer on 17 August 2015.
Touring Network exists to see rural touring be a central, celebrated
and indispensable part of the cultural life of Scotland. We exist to
enable live performances of the highest level, transforming people as
promoters, performers and audiences to create vibrant places to live,
work and visit.
Our venues cover over half the area of Scotland.
We have promoters working in communities across Highland, Argyll &
Bute, Moray, Orkney, Shetland, and Perthshire.
This short form is designed to help you asses whether or not your show is Rural Touring ready. We take you through the very basic needs of rural touring and give you a list of things to consider. We also point you to other helpful resources and pages along the way. Please note this form is NOT a way of submitting your show to be considered for touring but should be used as a tool to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to approach schemes.