Director Open Call – the beat of our hearts

About this project

The Beat of Our Hearts is a new play about LGBTQIA+ loneliness and belonging, commissioned by a research team at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter, and scheduled for production at Exeter Northcott Theatre in early 2022, alongside the production of associated digital assets/resources, and the possibility of a programme of accompanying ‘festival’ events organised by the Wellcome Centre. The play represents the culmination of work that writer, Natalie McGrath, and researchers from the University of Exeter, have undertaken with LGBTQIA+ people in the South West to explore histories and experiences of isolation, community, and intimacy. The overall project is supported by the AHRC, with additional funding from Arts Council England.


Key dates and expectations

The project will take place in two main phases –

Script Development
1 x R&D week in November 2021, leading to an online ‘in development’ rehearsed reading as part of the AHRC Being Human Festival – 11th November 2021

Rehearsals & Production
4 x rehearsal weeks through January 2022, leading to tech week and 4/5 performances and associated ‘festival’ events at the Northcott – 3rd-5th February 2022

As well as leading the creative delivery of both these phases, including playing a key role in all other creative team and casting appointments, the Director will be expected to work closely with our Producer to ensure the project is realised effectively within the Northcott’s wider creative programme and delivers against Wellcome Centre research objectives.

All activity will take place in or near Exeter.

Who we’re looking for

Personal Qualities:

  • Lived experience within the LGBTQIA+ communities
  • Ability to create a safe, welcoming atmosphere for diverse casts & creative teams
  • Proven ability to work collaboratively as part of a multi-disciplinary team
  • Empathetic and a good listener, able to empower artists to contribute to script development

Professional Competencies (Essential):

  • Proven track record of Directing small/mid-scale theatre productions
  • Experience of working collaboratively with playwrights to facilitate script development
  • Experience of working with LGBTQIA+ casts and creative teams

Professional Competencies (Desirable):

  • Experience of working on projects/commissions with multiple stakeholders
  • Experience of incorporating research into their directorial approach

Fee & Expenses

  • The fee for this work is £5,000.
  • Subsistence Allowance of £181.05 per week if required to stay away from home.
  • Associated travel costs will also be reimbursed.

About our Writer

Natalie McGrath (she/her). Playwright, poet, lyricist, producer of arts and cultural heritage projects, Co-Director of Dreadnought South West.

Work includes; Coasting and Wild Doves (Bristol Old Vic), Rift (Brewhouse Theatre Taunton), Scottish Kiss (Paines Plough’s Come to Where I’m From), Metal Remains (Theatre West) was shortlisted for the Meyer Whitworth Prize, Exodus (Box of Tricks NWxSW Tour), Oxygen and The Cause touring productions (Dreadnought South West) published by Methuen & Co. Electric Spaces (Exeter Phoenix, Exeter Bikeshed Theatre and Barbican Theatre, Plymouth). The Sound RnD supported by ACE SW and Theatre Royal, Plymouth. All the Things We Grieve was an Exeter City of Literature Compact Commission.

A Writer on Attachment to the Traverse Theatre in 2019 after coming to their attention though Open Submissions. We’ll Meet In Moscow was part of Shift Scot’s Pride Plays in collaboration with the Traverse Theatre, LGBT History Month 2020 and is now an on demand audio drama by Traverse Theatre Company for Traverse 3, part of their summer festival 2021.

Currently under commission by the University of Exeter’s Wellcome Centre for the Cultures and Environments of Health (WCCEH), in partnership with Exeter Northcott Theatre, writing a new play; The Beat of Our Hearts, about LGBTQIA+ loneliness. Writer in Residence on Out and About Queering the Museum at RAMM (Royal Albert Memorial Museum). Her play Exodus is being published by Slate Publishing as part of a wider collection of writing about Dartmoor.

Find out more:

About our Research Partner

Intercom Trust is a lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans+ charity working across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and the wider South West, providing; Help and Support, Advocacy, Counselling, Training, Information, Support Groups, Online Directory, Community Surveys, Conferences, Consultancy.

About Exeter Northcott Theatre

Opened in 1967, Exeter Northcott has established itself as a key regional centre for theatre and the performing arts, with a programme of drama, dance, music, opera, musicals, family shows and comedy that attracts around 100,000 people a year. In recent years it has also begun to develop a thriving programme of projects & participation with South West-based artists, children & young people, supporting under-served communities to realise their creative projects and ambitions. As part of this, they’re currently working on the development of a new city-centre creative hub at the Barnfield Theatre.


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