Glossary of terms

There’s a lot of jargon in every industry, theatre is no exception.

Here’s a breakdown of what some of the words we use mean:

Making theatre

Seed commission

A seed commission is a way for us to help artists develop an idea very early on in its journey. It’s usually a small pot of money accompanied by some producing support from our Creative Development team.

The way it usually happens is we approach an artist whose work we find really interesting, and ask them to come up with a new idea that could potentially become an NTW project.

After the artist has used the money to work on their idea in the way they want to, they’ll show us what they’ve produced. We’ll then decide if we want to take it to another stage of development, or, if it’s not quite right we’ll let them know so they can build on it themselves, often by taking it to other venues/producers.


A commission is us promising to make a project happen.

This could have been born out of a seed commission, it could be us approaching an artist we already have an established relationship with and are interested in working at a larger scale with them, or it could come from our work with communities through our Collaboration team and TEAM.

This is more commitment from us in terms of money and staffing time, and usually ends in a public-facing performance that people can buy tickets for.


A residency can take many shapes and forms, but usually involves giving artists a new space to experiment in.

It’s less rigid than a commission, and more of a space to explore ideas, often with other artists. Sometimes residencies are in specific locations and require the artist to stay overnight for a few days (all paid for by us).

It’s about developing your own artistic practice as much as it’s about you exploring ideas. You’ll have access to certain support from NTW staff and sometimes external facilitators. And it’s paid.


R&D aka Research & Development. This is probably the most flexible of all the terms you’ll find on this page as it’s really up to the artist how they want to explore their idea.

R&Ds usually follow a seed commission, if we want to take the idea forward, or they may come very early in the commission process. It’s a chance for the artist to explore and expand their idea with more members of a creative team around them - e.g. a director, a few actors, a stage manager, maybe a composer.

It’s a way to flesh out a project, and for us to see the potential.

Creative development

Creative development at NTW is any and everything related to developing artists. Whether that’s R&Ds, seed commissions, commissions, residencies, specific job opportunities and more. It’s anything that places artists and their development at the heart of the work.

It takes a team of brilliant creatives to make work. Here are some of the roles you'll see most often, and a bit about what they get up to.

Who's involved


Someone who is responsible for the creative vision of the project. They usually are one of the first artists on a project, and oversee the bringing together of the creative team, production team, and cast of performers alongside a producer. It’s their job to ensure all the moving parts connect and tell the story - from the set, to the lighting, to the way the performers move on stage.

Assistant Director

Someone who looks after all of the logistics, and communications between the director and the rest of the crew. They’re there to help the director(s) deliver their creative vision. This might be pre-rehearsal research on the context of the play, the playwright or a certain concept that the director wants to explore.


Generally speaking, a dramaturg supports a creative team to fully realise the themes, intentions, and context of a story. This story could play out as a theatre production, a short film, a live performance piece, or even a written project. We’re open to exploring all areas of dramaturgy, and all kinds of people who could be dramaturgs.


Someone who makes it all happen. Producers come in all shapes and sizes and they often specialise in a certain type of art, but broadly speaking they organise and project manage work, putting together teams of creatives who can realise a vision, and making sure that everyone is supported to make the vision happen.


In a nutshell, an associate is someone who supports the development and delivery of projects. This could be an Associate Director, Access Associate, Creative Associate... the list goes on.

Their voice has equal weight to the leadership roles in a production or the company, and they contribute to all sorts from creative decisions to policies.

They might work in other organisations alongside, which enables them to bring learnings and expertise from other roles.


An artist is anyone with an idea for something they want to realise. We mostly work with theatre and live performance artists, so that’s anyone who has a project that would suit being on a stage (a stage can also mean many different things!). Performers, directors, writers, producers, and designers are all artists - you may do one or more of those roles.