Next Stages

Improving quality, diversity and quantity of Midscale Theatre in the UK



For over ten years China Plate has been pivotal in nurturing a thriving independent theatre sector. This year we launch a 5-year programme to take some of our learning in that area and apply it to the middle scale.

There are considerable challenges facing the midscale touring circuit. Next Stages seeks to address this complex set of challenges – satisfying demand from midscale venues, puncturing a glass ceiling for a generation of talented theatre makers and reinvigorating the midscale for audiences.

Working with a consortium of venue partners, China Plate will pool resources and expertise to identify a cohort of artists successfully making live performance at other scales who are interested in connecting with national audiences through developing popular touring work. 

A preliminary research phase will look at the traditions, methodologies and models for making successful midscale shows and how these collide and/or complement models successfully employed at other scales. We will publish key points on this website in early spring 2018 and you can find out more at 2 ‘open house’ events at HOME  and Oxford Playhouse in spring 2018. 


Open House Events

If you are a theatre maker / company, producer or venue interested in finding out what we’ve learnt so far, expressing your interest in working with us to develop exciting work or simply having your say then please join us at one of the events below.

The Open House events will take place in February and March and offer an opportunity for the wider arts sector to engage with the conversation around midscale. Each event will feature keynote speeches from theatre makers and artists, a chance to find out more about the project and the opportunity to tackle some of our key questions together.

Attendance at both events is free of charge and will be allocated on a first come first served basis. If you want to attend both events, you need to sign up to each one separately. To facilitate travel to Oxford and Manchester there are also a limited number of travel bursaries available for non-NPO arts organisations – also first come first served.

Arts at the Old Fire Station, Oxford |  Tuesday 13 February

HOME, Manchester  |  Tuesday 20 March

Schedule and book below.

Open House - Schedule

Arts at the Old Fire Station (Oxford)

Tuesday 13 February

13:30 – Registration & Tea / Coffee
14:00 – Welcome & keynote speakers
Emma Rice (Wise Children) & James Dacre (Royal & Derngate Theatres)
15:30 – Refreshments / networking
16:15 – Break out discussion groups
17:30 – Plenary
18:15 – End / Drinks & snacks
19:30* - The Little Match Girl (And Other Happier Tales) at Oxford Playhouse


Tuesday 20 March

11:00 – Registration & Tea / Coffee
11:30 – Welcome & keynote speakers
Michael Buffong (Talawa) & Kate McGrath (Fuel)
13:00 – Lunch / networking
14:00 – Break out discussion groups
15:15 – Plenary
16:00 – End
*attendees are invited to book a complimentary ticket to see Emma Rice’s production of The Little Match Girl after the event (running time: approx. 1hr 40min) follow the 'book your place' link below.

Open House - Findings

A huge thank you to all the artists and venues that have taken part in our interviews or who attended one of our Open House events - together you have provided loads of invaluable information and some really important incites.

Given the demand for places at our Open House events in February and March we have posted the speeches and some of the notes gathered on the day - unedited - so people can take a look now. You can listen to all the talks from our speakers at both Oxford and Manchester HERE. We've also collated the notes from the group discussions, which you can browse through below. We're in the process of producing additional accessible formats of these talks and notes - in the meantime, please do get in touch if you require these in an alternative format.

Taking into account what you have told us so far, we are busy shaping the next stage of the Next Stages project. Please keep an eye on this page and our social media channels for updates about how you can continue to be involved. 

Booking info

13th Feb 2018Next Stages, Oxford Playhouse 
20th Mar 2018Next Stages, HOME, Manchester