MGC Futures and Pilot Theatre Bursary


It was announced today that the Theatre Community Fund will donate £300,000 to MGC Futures, to help support and provide bursaries for the next three years. We are excited to be partnering with MGC Futures to fund a Creative Assistant. The Creative Assistant will plan and deliver a series of inspiring workshops and creative projects with young people (between the ages of eleven and twenty-five), from a variety of community and educational groups across the country.

The role is intended to start as soon as possible after March 2021 and will operate on a freelance basis. A bursary of £5,000 will be provided. We are particularly keen to receive applications from regionally based practitioners. Applications will be open from 16th December 2020.

Esther Richardson, Artistic Director and Joint-CEO of Pilot Theatre said, “We are delighted to be hosting an artist of exceptional promise to work across our upcoming projects in 2021. Throughout this challenging year, Pilot has continued to support freelancers of many disciplines, and we look forward to collaborating with an artist who is excited about inspiring young people through their creative practice.” 

The Happiness Project: Call for LGBTQIA+ Participants


Pilot are looking for young adults aged 19-25 from the LGBTQIA+ community who live or study in York and would like to be part of The Happiness Project, a toolkit for everyday wellbeing.

Over six sessions held weekly during the end of January through to March, Mindfulness and Movement practitioner and founder of Queer Space Bristol, Lizzie Wiggs will work together with participants on a series of weekly creative and mindfulness based activities to form a wellbeing toolkit helping to support and promote our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Interested? Would you like further information? Please send us an email to [email protected], with your name and contact details and we will get in touch. There are only a limited amount of places on this initial project which will be given on a first come, first served basis.

This opportunity is free to be part of thanks to thanks to a Cultural Wellbeing Grant from City of York Council and Make It York.

This opportunity is free to sign up to thanks to funding from CYC Cultural Wellbeing programme.

An Update from Esther Richardson


One way to navigate a difficult year is to hold on tight to your values. Again and again in 2020, when things have felt challenging, or there has been a tricky decision to take, we have had the core purpose of Pilot Theatre to guide us.

We are a touring company. We work with young people, make work for younger audiences, and we travel the world. We’ve also always tried to work across borders, and welcome the new: new people, new ideas, new stories. And we’ve also, always, and proudly, tried hard to be an entranceway for those from less privileged backgrounds into paid theatre, arts and digital work.

In 2020 we have continued our work from our homes in Yorkshire, yet we have still found ways to pilot the world. Since having to leave our set for Crongton Knights on the stage of Derby Theatre in March, we have barely set foot on a train, but we have commissioned Shakthi Shakthidharan in Australia to adapt The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon which is a story about a refugee boy whose home is a tent in a camp for a displaced international community.

We have developed The Archive (The Happiness Project) an online game that explores the meaning of happiness with XR Stories and artists and developers in Germany, as part of PlayOn! our Creative Europe project.

And as we planned to do anyway, even had 2020 turned out to be the most ordinary of years (because it’s something we deeply believe in) we’ve captured tens of performances and livestreamed them all across the world. The difference is that this year it was for once the majority stuck at home and not the minority, so it has been great to observe people who have the privilege of being able to access live theatre in ordinary times finally appreciate what digital work may mean to those who simply don’t have that access or that option.

2020 has changed how we work and also very usefully reminded us who we are. We are a Northern UK theatre company as well as a nationally renowned one, but where we’ve come from matters. We were founded almost 40 years ago by students from a theatre college in Yorshire called Bretton Hall, and most of our work for four decades has aimed primarily to open up the excitement and joy of theatre to teenagers who might not otherwise have the chance to work with professional practitioners or visit a funded theatre building.

One of the happier outcomes of this year has been that we have been able to create and support more projects at home. We have worked with seven northern female writers whom we haven’t commissioned before. We are thrilled to have Zodwa Nyoni and Lydia Marchant collaborate with us on The Archive. We also made a project (as part of Signal Fires) aiming to set free the stories of young northern women, Northern Girls, with Arcade and the YMCA in Scarborough, commissioning Zoe Cooper, Asma Elbadawi, Maureen Lennon and Charley Miles as well as staging work by four new writers who were mentored by playwright and spoken word artist, Hannah Davies.

A homecoming, or home-staying period, has also helped us forge closer ties with Yorkshire partners in the Arts as the sector continues to grapple collectively with how to survive and come through this extraordinary time. What will the world look like by 2022 when we plan at the moment to stage The Bone Sparrow? By then, every single person under 24 will be in the group that were not able to vote in the Brexit Referendum, but who will have to live its legacy, and help shape a new identity in the world for our country.

We were invited to be part of the Leeds 2023 team taking part in the research and development for Festival 2022 and it is an honour to be selected and to be included within an amazing team whose values we share. We care about stories, we know as pioneers in the digital space that the full potential of the integration of technology with theatre on the large-scale has not yet been realised. It’s exciting to explore this within a project that might one day meet the world but that will be rooted in some aspects in the identity of the North of England. For us it’s also imperative that young people’s interests are reflected and represented within such a project and that those whose voices are least often heard are centre stage.

Ensuring the voices, opinions and provocations of young people continue to lead us forward is where our energies will take us over the next year as we also start development work on The Bone Sparrow with Australian Theatre for Young People and a Committee of teenagers to track the project from the outset. We have been immensely proud to work recently with the Centre for Cultural Value and two of our previous Young Creatives: Becca McGreevy and Francesca Robson who facilitated a session for the whole sector on how to work with young people most impactfully.

We’re mindful that there is still inequity in theatre sector and society more broadly around power when it comes to those under 18, and that there is a mental health crisis in the population under 25s that has more than likely been accelerated by the last year. Working on wellbeing with sincere intentions, continuing to hold space for younger people and activate and support their own development as leaders in the world will be among the most important parts of our work over the next period.

We are incredibly privileged to continue to carry the torch for this fantastic company and we will find our way out of these dark days to continue to make powerful art that reflects the world as it really is, and continue to tell stories for years to come that both activate hope and help us to understand that change is always possible.

At the moment we are not in the office, but you can contact us at [email protected] or follow updates on here or any of our social media platforms; TwitterFacebookInstagramYouTube.

In solidarity, stay safe.

The Pilot Theatre Team