Developing the theatre makers of tomorrow...

The Optimists 2017

China Plate's unique training opportunity for emerging theatre makers and producers.


The Optimists offers a unique training opportunity for emerging theatre makers and aspiring producers, the Optimists offers an insider’s view of navigating the independent theatre industry and getting your work out there.

“It’s like receiving the golden ticket to the chocolate factory!”

Katherine Goodenough – former Optimist & now Producer of the Greenbelt Festival

In the last two years have you…

  • Decided to become a professional theatre maker?
  • Started to produce theatre work professionally?
  • Decided that you want to build a career making theatre?

The Optimists 2016 offers a vital introduction to the craft of making work in a professional context and building your professional network, de-mystifying the process of the administrative and organisational aspects of making theatre. Drawing on China Plate’s extensive experience and real examples, The Optimists will arm you with knowledge and insight on the practicalities of making, funding, touring and marketing your work.

“I came away from the programme feeling braver, more informed and more optimistic about making theatre than I ever have. I have so much information now and met a group of people who are experiencing many of the same challenges.” Caroline Horton, Optimists Alumni.

Places are available for up to 16 individuals: students, recent graduates, emerging producers or members of emerging theatre companies. Optimists 2017 will take place in London over 10 three-hour evening sessions, beginning 21st February 2017.

The course will be led by Ed Collier and Paul Warwick from Finger on the pulse Producers China Plate ‘Lyn Gardner, The Guardian’; supported by the China Plate team with a host of guest industry experts.

“The Optimist was the spring board that I needed to develop my confidence and refine my skills in producing. The programme was intense, bursting at the seams with informative and crucial information.”  Optimists Participant 2016.

Course Content

Participants will attend a series of workshops focussing on the practicalities of making, funding, touring and marketing work. The programme will also offer an insight into venue programming and producing strategies and introduce you to key regional and national theatre presenters, makers and funders. Topics will include:

  • Founding a company, articulating the idea
  • Expenditure, the recipe
  • Income, working out and paying for the ingredients
  • Fundraising including Arts Council England, trusts and foundations and other sources
  • Administration – budgets, contracts.
  • Audiences and how to reach them
  • Venues, getting through door
  • Festivals and navigating Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Over the 10 weeks you will build up an extensive project file of resources. From budget templates to marketing packs and exercises you will have completed throughout the course.

“It made it clearer how to prepare for applying for grants, funding and organising finances. It showed how to run a show from beginning to end.” Tine Bentsen Optimists Alumni.

Previous graduates have gone on to create award-winning productions including Bitch Boxer by Charlotte Josephine (Soho Young Writers Award), Bound by Bear Trap (Fringe First Award, Herald Angel Award, Adelaide Critics Circle Award, Off West End Award) and You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy / Mess / Islands by Caroline Horton (Stage Best Solo Performance Award, Olivier Award and OFFIE nomination)

The Details

Dates and Venue

Optimists 2017 will run for 10 sessions, every Tuesday evening between 6pm-9pm, starting Tuesday 21st February 2017 and completing 25th April 2017.

The sessions will take place at various key theatre venues across London.


£415 + VAT (£498) per person including course materials.

Who can apply?

This scheme is targeting emerging artists (individual theatre artists or theatre company members) or producers who are at the start of their professional careers.

How to Apply


If you are excited by the prospect of becoming a China Plate Optimist and wish to apply, please send us the following information by email to:


1) Contacts details: company name (if you are part of one), postal address, website, email and phone

2) Why you would like to be an Optimist? (max 250 words)

3) The names of 2 referees who can comment on your work

4) CV


Participants must be able to attend a minimum of 7 evenings to get the best from the course.


For more information email