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REACT was born out of local artists’ desire for collaboration and development of process and craft. We wanted to create a space in which artists would feel safe to let their ideas run wild, exist beyond their comfort zone and potentially fail, all in the name of experimentation.

  • What is REACT?
  • REACT is a paid opportunity for groups of theatre-makers from the Open Exchange network to spend five days at the theatre, creating work in reaction to a provocation. The emphasis is on process rather than outcome and you are encouraged to treat the week as a chance to play, learn from one another and develop the way you make work. There will be opportunity on the Friday to either share a snippet of what you’ve been developing, or just to have a chat about what you’ve explored over the week.

    We are especially interested in artists of different disciplines collaborating to respond to this provocation, and all teams must consist of two or more Network members.

  • The provocation exists to provide a focal point within the artistic chaos of experimentation and exploration.

  • REACT week takes place three times a year, usually in February, April and October.

  • • A fee of £750 per group
    • A rehearsal space for five days at the Exchange
    • A small budget for props/hires



• Application deadline: Monday 3 September 2018, 5pm
• Interviews: Monday 17 and Tuesday 19 September 2018. All shortlisted groups will be invited to the Theatre for a discussion.
• REACT WEEK(S): Monday 8 - Friday 12 October OR Monday 15 - Friday 19 October 2018

• All teams must consist of two or more Network members.
• All teams must include at least one pair of artists who have never worked together before.
• Minimal tech support will be provided from the RET (we can provide projectors and some sound support but no laptops/tablets/mobile phones).
• All ideas must be envisioned for non-traditional theatre spaces e.g. outside / on transport / public areas / online (although this may not be achieveable within the REACT week!) 


REACT 11 Provocation Image 1 of 3 REACT 11 Provocation Image 2 of 3 REACT 11 Provocation Image 3 of 3

These images are from ON THE NIGHT BUS, by acclaimed street photographer Nick Turpin who captured passengers during their twilight commute. Please use them as a springboard for your ideas.

You can also download the images:

REACT 11 Provocation Images PDF

REACT 11 Provocation Images DOCX

To apply for this opportunity, please send us:

• A short proposal (no more than 300 words) about your idea. You don’t need to know the outcome of the idea but tell us what you hope to achieve or discover.
• A short introduction to your team (no more than 300 words). Who you are and why you want to work together.
• Please confirm your availability for either (or both) of the two weeks i.e. 8 - 12 October and/or 15 - 19 October. 

You can email these to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or alternatively you can apply by sending an unedited video (no longer than 2 minutes in length) to the same address.


  • REACT APRIL 2018
  • The Provocation
    In April 2018, we invited proposals to explore Adaptation, Interpretation, Inspiration, Translation.

    There are many different ways to take something old and turn it into something new. In Spring/Summer 2018 season we have five new pieces of work which use another text as a starting point:

    • Frankenstein (adapted from the Mary Shelley novel)
    • Mountains (inspired by the Lisa Tse memoir) 
    • The Cherry Orchard (a new translation of Chekov)
    • Three Sisters (a new interpretation of Chekov)
    • Queens of the Coal Age (adapted from the original radio script)

    What does it mean to take an existing text and reinvent it?
    How can you find modern resonances within historical contexts and use the original work to focus our understanding of the here and now?
    What challenges are you faced with when working across different mediums/forms?

    For this REACT we wanted artists to use a piece of text which is over 150 years old as the starting point to explore adaptation, interpretation, inspiration or translation. The text cannot be a play or performance text. Why does this text need to be retold now?

    The Groups were:
    • Kayleigh Hawkins, Laura Harper, Sophie Giddens, Owen Rafferty
    • Sarah Sayeed, Bridget Fiske, Abdul Saboor

  • The Provocation
    In February 2018, we invited proposals to explore the notion of Bump in the Night: Horror and Fear in the Theatre.

    The Groups were:
    • Ali Michael, Piers Black-Hawkins, Matt Holt, Evelyn Roberts
    • Lydia Cottrell, Michael-Jon Mizra
    • Paul Blinkhorn, Marty Ross, José Guillermo Puello, Sophie Coward, Parisa Nikkhah-eshghi 

  • The Provocation
    In December 2017, we invited proposals to explore the notion of Digital Storytelling.

    The Groups were:
    • Clare McNulty, Karl Olsen
    • Andrew Duffy, Natalie Amber, Stephanie Riches, Yvette Freeman

  • REACT MAY 2017
  • The Provocation
    In May 2017, we invited proposed to explore the Ethics and Practice of Verbatim Theatre.

    The Groups were:
    • Amy Hailwood, Cat Morefield, Elle Pemberton-Steer, Rachel McMurray
    • Courtney Hayles, Paul Lewis, Sophie Tetlow
    • Ali Wilson, James Monaghan

    Quotes from Artists

    “REACT was such a unique and valuable experience for me as an artist. It is so rare for a group of artists to be supported through exploration. Thank you to the Royal Exchange and all staff” Rachel McMurray

    “Overall, it was a brilliant experience and a rare opportunity to be paid to take the time to simply explore, without the pressure of a performance outcome at the end. I would happily recommend it to any developing theatre maker and hope the REACT programme will continue long into the future.” Amy Hailwood

  • The Provocation
    In February 2017, we invited proposals exploring TALKING TO TOMORROW; how to create work about global issues for audiences under 11.

    The Groups were:
    Daniel Wallace, Garth Williams, John Ellis, Ruth Cockburn
    Charlie Hammond, James Varney, Rhiannon 
    Guy Hargreaves, Marjan Wouda & Nicky McRoy

    Quotes from Artists

    “The react week was a beautiful gift; a wonderful adventure. Thank you Royal Exchange!!!” Marjan Wouda

Open Exchange provides a series of development opportunities for emerging artists of all disciplines, rooted in the belief that collaboration creates great art and brilliant theatre doesn't always begin with a script. Sign up here for opportunities.

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