New Vic’s Kiln Associates Programme launched to support development of independent companies.

The New Vic Theatre, based in Staffordshire, is offering three companies the opportunity to be an Associate Artist at the theatre-in-the-round for one year from September 2021, as part of Kiln Associates, their artist development scheme. The successful candidates will each receive an investment of £5,000 from the theatre as part of the scheme, to help support the artists develop ideas and practice across the course of the year.

Designed to nurture the development of independent companies with the aim of building a richer and more dynamic arts sector locally and nationally, the New Vic are inviting companies to apply for the scheme who feel that they can both benefit from, and actively contribute to, a relationship with the New Vic and the creative ecology in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Open to local, regional and national companies, successful applicants will have access to development space within the theatre building during the year, advice and support from New Vic staff and opportunities to observe work/rehearsals at the theatre, in addition to the investment of £5,000 for each company.

New Vic Associate Director, Vicki Amedume, who will be leading the scheme, said: “The Kiln Associates programme offers an opportunity for companies spanning all types of performance. We are keen that the scheme represents the range of artists in the UK and are encouraging applications from those who are currently underrepresented in the performing arts sector. We’re offering an investment of £5,000 for successful applicants, not as a commission, but because we wanted the scheme to offer space for companies to spend time building artistic ideas or developing practice in a creative space. We hope this will help allow companies to develop themselves, and as a result, our sector, after a challenging period of time.”

New Vic Artistic Director Theresa Heskins said: “We originally launched the Kiln Associates programme in 2016 and have worked with a number of companies since to support their development, sharing expertise, experience and resources. This year, we felt strongly that we wanted to open up our associates programme further afield, continuing to offer local artists the opportunity to work with us, but also to invite companies from across our region and nationally to work with us. Our location gives us a strong sense of place and increasingly, our theatremaking has a national and an international dimension and we feel that this is an exciting opportunity for us to help make a meaningful contribution to the recovery of our sector after such an intense year.”

 Alongside the Kiln Associates scheme, the New Vic will also launch the Kiln Network; a new programme offering talks, advice, inspiration and in-person and virtual gathering places for local performance-based creatives and industry professionals. Open to performing arts professionals based in the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent area, the network will be launched in May.

For more details on the Kiln Associates programme, including how to apply, visit

Fiona Buffini to direct Moira Buffini’s HANDBAGGED – New Vic Theatre, 6-28 Sept

‘We are both Britain’

Two formidable figures – the Queen and Margaret Thatcher – are set to be reunited at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme as Fiona Buffini (The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd, New Vic Theatre) makes a welcome return to the theatre in September to direct her sister Moira’s Olivier award-winning  play Handbagged.

Handbagged will be the first time since the National Theatre and West End transferred production of Dinner in 2002 that Fiona Buffini has directed one of her sister’s plays.  Next April they will be working together on the National Theatre production of Moira’s new play Manor.

Over the course of a decade, two of Britain’s most iconic women meet regularly. In private. Sharing their views on what it means to be British and navigating their opposing opinions, do their smiles tell a true story?

The meetings between Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher became infamous in the ’80s. In this theatrical comedy, Moira Buffini imagines their relationship, and looks at what might have happened when two of the most powerful characters of our time came face-to-face.

Sharply funny, packed with satirical humour and highly entertaining, Handbagged will make you question what you think you know about the people who lead us, and features the Monarch, the Prime Minister and a host of surrounding characters including Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Geoffrey Howe, Denis Thatcher plus many more!

Moira Buffini’s plays include Welcome to Thebes,  and  Dinner which was Olivier nominated (National Theatre); Dying for It (Almeida); A Vampire Story (National Theatre Connections) and Loveplay (RSC). She has also written screenplays for Jane Eyre, (directed by Cary Fukanaga); Tamara Drewe, (directed by Stephen Frears) and Byzantium (directed by Neil Jordan). Moira is also the is co-creator and lead writer of TV series Harlots.

Fiona Buffini’s directorial credits include Our Country’s Good, The Duchess of Malfi, The Revenger’s Tragedy, All My Sons, and Kindertransport (Nottingham Playhouse), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (RSC), Dinner (National Theatre and West End), The Playboy of the Western World (National Theatre), 39 Steps (West Yorkshire Playhouse and West End), Corrie!  (Number One tour), Abigail’s Party and Gaslight (Theatre Clwyd), The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd (New Vic Theatre), The Boston Marriage (Bolton Octagon), Gabriel (Soho Theatre Company). Between 2013-18 she was the Associate Director of Nottingham Playhouse.

Fiona Buffini said:

I’m genuinely delighted to be back at the New Vic. The play has been performed all over the UK and most recently in the US. This is the first time (to my knowledge) that it’s been performed in the round. This intimacy really suits the play: it’s as if we’re eavesdropping on private meetings. All the characters talk to the audience, which works so well at the Vic. It’s also about a time in our history of huge upheaval and change, which really divided the nation. A play for today.”

The production’s cast will feature Zoe Aldrich (Antigone and Her Naked Skin, National Theatre) as Mags, Louise Bangay (Cyrano de Bergerac and Rock ‘n’ Roll, Chichester Festival Theatre) as Q; Melissa Collier (A Midsummer Night’s Night Dream, Orange Tree Theatre ) as Liz, Ashley Gerlach

(Beauty and the Beast, Theatre by The Lake) as Actor 1;  Jan Goodman (Marriage, One Reputedly Glamorous Woman, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry) as T and Paul Mundell (Jane Eyre, National Theatre and Table, New Vic Theatre) as Actor 2.

The production will be designed by Olivia Du Monceau, with Lighting by Daniella Beattie, Sound by James Earls-Davis and vocals by Judith McSpadden.

Handbagged will run at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme from the 6-28 September.