Developing the theatre makers of tomorrow...

The Optimists 2018

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 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.

Applications are now open for the next Optimists course, see below for details of how to apply

*This course provides travel / accommodation bursaries for D/deaf / disabled and PoC / BAME applicants (subject to funding).

The course will take place in London over 10 three hour sessions (in five weeks) and are each available for up to 16 individuals: recent graduates, emerging producers, administrators wanting to learn more about producing, venue staff or members of emerging theatre companies.

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

“I could not recommend this course highly enough. It is informative, clear, comprehensive and a lot of fun! I could not have imagined the amount of information that was shared with us. I think it is an immensely empowering course, essential for anyone wanting to produce/make their own work" Optimists Participant 2016.

All Optimists information is available in large print.

Email for a copy.

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:

  • The Producer's role, your project - articulating the idea and organising the process
  • Expenditure, the recipe
  • Income, working out and paying for the ingredients
  • Fundraising including Arts Council England, trusts and foundations and other sources
  • Administration & General Management – budgets, contracts, company formation and obligations
  • Audiences and how to reach them
  • Working inclusively and Access
  • Venues, getting through door
  • Festivals and navigating Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Over the 10 sessions 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 courses run for for 10 sessions over 5 weeks

Optimists spring 2018:

Saturday 17 February 2018 (2 sessions) 10.30am - 5.30pm with 1 hour lunch

Then evenings Feb 20, 22, 27 & Mar 1, 6, 8, 13 & 15. 

The sessions will take place at various key theatre venues across London. Previous sesssions include Young Vic Theatre, National Theatre Studios, Battersea Arts Centre and many more.


£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.

D/deaf and disabled participants are particularly welcome - China Plate will endeavour to ensure all Access requirements are met. All venues are fully accessible.


The spring 2018 course will offer travel and accommodation bursaries to D/deaf and disabled and PoC/BAME applicants (subject to funding).

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

Please also include Access requirements if applicable and indicate if you would like to apply for a bursary (travel and accommodation) for the spring 2018 course.

Participants must be able to attend a minimum of 8 evenings to get the best from the course.

Deadline for Applications


For the spring 2018 course: 5pm Tuesday 23rd January 2018.


For more information email