Prototype: Experiments in Theatre


    Making a show? Want to see if it’s got legs? Prototype is our regular scratch night at Tobacco Factory Theatres.

    At each event up to five artists or companies work across a wide range of disciplines to try out brand new ideas in front of an engaged and supportive audience of up to 90 people. Prototype has been running for seven years now and is a well-established part of how Tobacco Factory Theatres supports artists to develop the shows of tomorrow.

    The format tends to best serve ideas that are in their very early stages, and experience tells us that about 10 minutes of material is best. Beyond that the restrictions are only those dictated by the space and the maximum technical time of 1 hour per artist/company. If you’re still not sure, Prototype’s tagline is ‘experiments in theatre’.  Rough is OK; rough is good; rough is kind of what it’s all about.

    Unfortunately we don’t accept submissions from student companies or those making dance or circus work. For dance companies we’d recommend checking out Testing Ground and for circus work take a look at Volt, both of which offer similar development opportunities. If you are a recently graduated company looking to make new work, then we’d welcome your application. It is probably also worth noting that we prioritise artists/companies based in Bristol and work that’s about collaboration, where there’s more than one body on stage.

    So if you have an idea for a show burning a hole in your imagination and you would find it useful to get it up in front of an audience to see if it works, or, perhaps you would like to use it as a spur to get something underway, then Prototype is for you.

    When there’s a current call out for Prototype, we’ll add details to the bottom of this page.

    Selection for Prototype is through informal follow-up conversations and we will aim to get back to you within two weeks if we would like to invite you along.

    Apply to be part of this Prototype by Mon 26 September at 5pm: Prototype Call for Submissions

    For any questions or for further information, please email Victoria Hole at

    Previous Prototype Artists

    Comments from previous Prototype artists

    “I was amazed at the number of people who turned up. I’ve done a mass of scratch nights across the country, including some of the most well known ones, and I have never seen such a large audience. Seeing so many people supporting upcoming and unfinished work with their time and money (even if it was only £3 on the door) is really encouraging and it shows how committed and engaged the audience in Bristol is.” Ed Rapley

    “Prototype is a great opportunity to try out new ideas and see if they have legs, and there is always the chance of someone being in the audience who can help get your project off the ground.” Angus Barr

    “Prototype made us feel part of Bristol’s theatre scene, as does Theatre Bristol. I/we mean this quite sincerely, it is far better for us to be part of what everyone else in the theatre world is part of than being limited to the Disability Arts /Arts and Disability world. We are not naïve; we know it is still difficult for some professionals/practitioners to consider/review/comment/feedback on the theatre that Firebird makes. It is also difficult for Firebird to present work in a ‘mainstream’ arena but initiatives and opportunities like Prototype enable that to happen.” Firebird