The Commissioning Circle

Theatre Royal’s Commissioning Circle supports the theatre’s artistic programme by expanding its capacity to commission new plays. This is a unique and exciting experience for theatre lovers, literary enthusiasts or business owners and entrepreneurs to commission a play and accompany it on its journey from ‘page to stage’. 

A small number of Circle Members (around 5) fund the cost of commissioning a playwright to write a new play for Theatre Royal’s stage. As the commissioners of the play, Circle Members will play a significant part in enabling the theatre to produce an artistically excellent and creatively ambitious production each year.


“It has been such a privilege to be members of the Commissioning Circle. We have so enjoyed sharing the embryonic journey of the play, from the first readings to the final rehearsals. Meeting the playwright, the Director, the production personnel, and the cast. Sharing the many complexities of transferring this classic storybook onto the stage. Bravo, Theatre Royal!”

The Secret Garden Commissioning Circle Member


The cast of these shows will be a mixture of four professional actors and 24 young people from our Youth Theatre Inclusion Groups and local SEN schools.

The first Commissioning Circle was for Nicky Werenowska’s new adaptation of Francis Hodgson Burnett’s classic story The Secret Garden, staged at the theatre in the summer of 2022. 

This is a unique and exciting opportunity for theatre lovers, literary enthusiasts or business owners & entrepreneurs to commission a play and accompany it on its journey from ‘page to stage’.


“This is a unique opportunity for a keen theatre supporter to be part of the process of creating a new play for our stage. Commissioning new work allows us to create productions that are fresh and inspiring for our audiences.”

– Owen Calvert-Lyons, Artistic Director


As well as enabling the growth of the theatre’s artistic programme, other features of the programme include:

  • Being the first to read the play at each stage of the drafting process and discuss its evolution

  • A copy of the published play

  • Backstage access, witnessing how the production develops, including exclusive insights from the director and invitations to a dress rehearsal

  • Names credited in all materials including the published playtext, production programme, and on Theatre Royal’s website

  • Tickets for Members and a guest to attend opening night, including the chance to meet the cast at a drinks reception after seeing the show and complimentary programmes for the production


It’s been a joy to work with the Commissioning Circle. Their sensitive and supportive feedback on drafts of the play, their encouragement and enthusiasm for the work, and their commitment to the process have not only contributed positively to the script’s development, but have heightened the fact that playwriting is a collaborative form that always benefits from the input of others. I am indebted to them.

-Nicola Werenowska, Playwright


Commissioning Circle Applications

Next year’s new play will be Mike Akers’ adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum and The Commissioning Circle for this is now full. Please contact Emma Suckling via [email protected] for details about The Commissioning Circle as we continue to grow this exciting area of our work.

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