Theatre Commissions at Waterside

Waterside and Creative Industries Trafford are committed to providing opportunities for artists to create work and understand the importance of this for maintaining the cultural ecology. 

We are really proud of the collaboration we have had with theatre-makers, which may be through our theatre commissions programme, or just some seed funding and/or space to develop and make new work.


We have to date supported, or continue to support the following artists:

Thick Skin: Petrichor

PETRICHOR is a brand new, one-of-a-kind immersive Theatre in VR experience. Combining live-action theatre and animation, PETRICHOR explores the hopes and fears of our current and future existence.

David Hoyle : HEDDA created by Jen Heyes 

Hedda is unkind and self-serving to the point of thinking nothing of crushing the hopes of others.

Life just isn’t good enough for Hedda. Like any of us; in life there are moments when we are all inclined to feel that this frustrating business of existence — as it is lived on the darkest days — isn’t good enough for us either.

This queer reimagining of Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece is cinematic theatre starring the iconic artist David Hoyle in a one person show, created and directed  by Jen Heyes with original composition by Tom Parkinson.

In Association with The Arts Centre EHU & Soho Theatre 

Supported by Arts Council England & Waterside Arts 

Victoria Firth: Touching Moments

An opportunity to join Victoria in a series of playful videos about touching and being touched.

Having spent lockdown listening to podcasts and trying to do ’30 days of yoga’ this piece is her own online offer for contact seekers, the touch starved and the skin hungry. A literal and metaphorical response to our need for connection and intimacy during these times of social separation and vulnerability.

A Diverge project supported by Waterside Arts. Originally developed for ‘Domestic’ by Word of Warning

 Dibby Theatre: First Dibs

A brand new 12-week course for LGBTQ+ artists

Chad Taylor: When I Hear Music

Matthew Bellwood: A Perfect World

Girl Gang: Millenial Pink


The central part of our theatre development work, where we commission the creation of new work. 


GM LGBTQ+ Arts + Culture Network: Mandla Rae, Roma Havers, Jamaal Monarch

Greater Manchester LGBTQ+ Arts + Culture Network is an LGBT Foundation project, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. The Network aims to provide support, training + awareness for cultural organisations in delivering events and projects in all boroughs with LGBT+ artists, participants, staff, and audiences. 

Thirteen cultural organisations from across Greater Manchester are taking part in the pilot scheme throughout 2019-20: Contact, HOME, Islington Mill, Manchester International Festival, Manchester Metropolitan University, Octagon Theatre, Oldham Coliseum, People’s History Museum, The Lowry, The Met, The Royal Exchange Theatre, The University of Manchester, and Waterside.

The network commissioned new work by Mandla Rae, Roma Havers, and Jamaal Monarch for the inaugral GM LGBTQ+ Arts + Culture Network Conference in January 2020.



First Time

Nathaniel Hall & Dibby Theatre

Can you remember your first time?... Nathaniel cant seem to forget his. 

To be fair, he has had it playing on repeat for the last 15 years. 

Now the party is over, the balloons have all burst and hes left living his best queer life: brunching on pills and Googling kangaroo vaginas, ancient condoms and human cesspits on a weekday morning… or is he?

Queer artist and activist, Nathaniel Hall presents a funny and frank one-man show about attempting to stay positive in a negative world.

Since it’s premiere, First Time has had a remarkable response, playing to sell-out audiences in Edinburgh, receiving 5* reviews (including The Stage) and winner of the inaugural Venues North Edinburgh Fringe Award.

First Time premiered at Waterside on the 28 November 2018



Wolf Hours: Minute Taker

Minute Taker

Venture into a surreal nocturnal world with this brand new audiovisual show by acclaimed alternative singer-songwriter Minute Taker in collaboration with a range of filmmakers.

Presented as a series of dream sequences, Wolf Hours explores the psyches of several gay men at different points in time over the past century.

With influences including Kate Bush, Tori Amos and David Bowie, Minute Taker creates a live soundtrack of haunting melodies, electronic beats and otherworldly synths.

Developed in association with Waterside Arts, Arts Council England and Superbia (at Manchester Pride).

Wolf Hours premiered at Waterside on the 18 July 2019



War with the Newts

Knaive Theatre Company

in partnership with Royal Exchange and Square Chapel Arts Centre

Witness the rise and fall of a new(t) capitalism. Deep in the bowels of an oyster-dredging vessel, an ocean of opportunity arises as a new resource makes contact.

War with the Newts was an updated theatrical re-imagining of Karel ?apeks satirical, political, apocalyptic, sci-fi classic of the same title, transported to a post-Brexit Britain of the possible future. It was an original adaptation by co-Artistic Director Tyrrell Jones created with support from the rest of the company. The show featured a fully immersive set by Hannah Sibai, a terrifying live mixed score with 8 channel surround sound by Dr. Robert Bentall and received the Summerhall's Lustrum Award for Outstanding Theatre.

War with the Newts previewed at Square Chapel, Halifax and Waterside Arts, Sale and premiered at Summerhall for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2018 before a UK tour including Leeds, Manchester and London.  




Chad Taylor

in partnership with Dance Manchester and STUN

Chad Taylor’s created ‘Awakening’ an outdoor piece using hip hop to explore mental health issues. The piece premiered during Refract 2018 Festival by Waterside Arts and was originally commissioned and produced by Dance Manchester, supported by STUN and DAD at One Dance UK. Made possible with National Lottery funding through Arts Council England and ongoing funding to Dance Manchester from the Greater Manchester Culture and Social Fund.



Getting from A to B

Hawk Dance Theatre

in partnership with Dance Manchester, Trafford Libraries and St Helen’s Libraries

Hawk Dance Theatre take family audiences on an entertaining adventure around the library in Getting from A to B, looking at choices and decisions we face in our lives; the highs, the lows, and everything in-between!

Made possible with National Lottery funding through Arts Council England and ongoing funding to Dance Manchester from the Greater Manchester Culture and Social Fund.



Swear School

Thick Richard

A fast-paced crash course in everything you wanted to know about bad language that school couldn’t teach you. Join the class of sinister puppets as punk poet Thick Richard looks at the history, definition and use of swearing in his darkly humorous, educational show. Swear School examines the language of swearing, blasphemy, physical gesturing, euphemisms, childish swearing, looking at why we swear and what it means to be offended. Dragging us through an A-Z celebrating and unpicking this area of the English language as the funniest yet most damaging expressive form of communication we have. Very, VERY strong language throughout! Thick Richard has been pedalling his potty-mouthed poems, cynical, lyrical, jet-black humour, intelligent wordplay, well-crafted verse, and occasionally acerbic, well-targeted comic attacks since 1999.



The House at the Edge of the Universe

Four Shadows Theatre Company 

Thisis a devised theatre performance for family audiences. The show will follow Barry and Larry, delivery men working for ‘Roy’s Mail’ who embark on a journey like no other as they travel through space in order to deliver a package that is addressed to

'The House at the Edge of The Universe'. With an entire set made out of cardboard boxes of all shapes, the audience will see Barry and Larry encounter zero gravity on the moon, navigate blackholes, travel through (and out of) the Solar System and meet life on distant planets. Alongside the physical comedy and live original music there will also be an interactive, hour long workshop for families to enjoy.



The Beautiful Warmth

Check Shirt Theatre Company

After winning our third commission, writer Adam Gilmour created Check Shirt Theatre Company to develop and produce his new play The Beautiful Warmth.  Adam has previously worked with the Library Theatre as a writer in residence and his work has been seen at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and the Houldsworth, Manchester.  

Welcome to The Beautiful Warmth. What we do is provide happiness, confidence, security. An end to your emotional and spiritual needs. Dare we say it, we provide love. And we provide it all in one neat little installation.”

TK would like nothing more than for you to invest in his Uncle's fireplace business. In fact, it might just save his skin if you do. Join him for his last ever sales pitch in this dark comedy, which explores consumerism, humanity, and the desire for success.

The Beautiful Warmth premiered at Waterside in October 2014.



The Man Who Woke Up Dead

Square  Peg

Square Peg are a physical theatre company whose work is rooted in visual storytelling. Square Peg was founded in 2011 by Michael White and Katie Robinson. Michael studied at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Katie studied at East 15 Acting School, London. They started working together after Michael sent out a casting call looking for actors interested in physical theatre. Katie was the only person to apply. The rest they say is history. 

Exploring the divide between fact and fiction The Man Who Woke Up Dead is a claustrophobic nightmare akin to the thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock and George Orwell. 
When a mysterious man is rescued by an unsuspecting nurse their worlds are thrown into paralysing doubt. As their stories unravel we uncover a web of deceit, betrayal and manipulation where nothing is quite what it seems.

"An absorbing nightmare journey."
Manchester Theatre Awards

After premiering in the Chambers Space, Waterside, The Man Who Woke Up Dead was selected for Re:Play 2014, at the Lowry, Salford. The show will tour nationally in winter 2014.

Follow Square Peg's latest news and productions here:



White Night

Nick Birchill

White Night is a documentary play attempting to retell the whole storyof the 1978 Jonestown Massacre. Spoken through the mouths of three performers, Nick draws on his experiences and reasoning behind the hours and hours of research into this morbid subject matter. In his attempt to explore the ethical challenges of representing the truestories of those whose own voices were lost to this tragedy, Nick presents the story of the Jonestown Massacre paralleled with the story of the writer who attempts to retell it.

By leaving everything in the audiencesimagination it added emphasis to the words and sounds, forcing you to meditate on the horrors and hardships you were hearing about.”



New for 2019, Making Waves provided small cash bursaries, space and programmed spot to companies who have work already made.


Beach Body Ready

The Roaring Girls

Catching Comets

Ransack Theatre



First Time

Nathaniel Hall & Dibby Theatre


2019 - Present


Hawk Dance Theatre

BOX will be an exciting high quality dance & digital work, created specifically for outdoor festival touring and unconventional spaces (aimed at audiences aged 13+).


2019 - Present

Staying In

Mark Croasdale

Young, gay, fabulous! Its all about being out and going out… isnt it?

In a world which feels like you either go out or miss out, we invite you to the theatre for a good night in. A show with face masks, herbal tea, and some illuminating truths about mental health and sexuality.

Beset by social anxiety and fulled by internalised homophobia, Mark agonises over the correct way to be himself and connect with other people. Staying In opens the door to a night in alone, beyond the glamour of your carefully curated Instagram feed. Its a humorous and vulnerable look at a side of ourselves rarely spoken about.

Staying In is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Co-commissioned by hÅb, STUN + Contact for Works Ahead. Developed with support from Waterside Arts & Creative Industries Trafford and supported by a grant from Superbia at Manchester Pride.

Staying In premiered at Waterside on 18 November 2019


2018 - Present


Created by Richard Evans

Supported by Waterside & Manchester Science Festival. Funded by Arts Council England.

Lush synths and electro rhythms mix with live vocals, data art, laser lighting & video for this captivating show inspired by themes of climate change and forced migration.

Sentinel is a call-to-action without words. The show is a multi-sensory journey through the present and future effects of global warming, creating a layered perspective on the planets most urgent issue. Experience a mesmerising soundtrack of analogue synths mixed with classical vocals, alongside stunning visuals created directly from climate and migrant data.

Conceived and composed by Richard Evans whose previous musical credits include James and indie chart-topping new wave act, St Vitus Dancers.



Catching Comets

Ransack Theatre

After discovering a comet hurtling towards Earth, Toby snaps and turns into the action hero in his own movie on a mission to save the world from impending doom. Flashback a year: Toby is knocked off course when somebody crashes into his life.

A disaster movie about falling in love.

Catching Comets asks how we're supposed to be big, brave and strong when we look and sound nothing like the heroes we grew up with on our screens.

This production was developed with the support of the Royal Exchange Theatre and Waterside Arts Centre, and Arts Council England.

Catching Comets premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2019 at Pleasance Courtyard.



Chit Chat Chalk Show

The Knotted Project & Hawk Dance Theatre

The Chit Chat Chalk Show follows Kiko, a confused young girl, struggling to understand how she feels about the strange new world she lives in. With the help of her quirky new friends, she embarks upon a quest to discover the mixture of emotions & colours that make her unique! Anger, jealousy, happiness & many more emotions, join our wonderful characters discovering them all!

The Chit Chat Chalk Show is charming, physical & packed with interaction for children aged 3-8 years & their families. Sitting amongst the set & performers, the children in the audience play an essential part in helping Kiko on her journey. With a cast of skilled performers, the story dances, draws & giggles its way through from beginning to end. The Chit Chat Chalk Show is sure to put a smile on faces, young & old!

"Theyre tricky things, feelings, but perhaps never more so than when youre young. The Chit Chat Chalk Show is a sensitive, interactive, well-crafted exploration of emotions – how they make up who we are, how we can embrace and regulate them – complete with dance, audience participation, and – of course – chalk drawing." –  Children's Theatre Reviews.


If you would would like to keep up to date with our theatre commissions, or would like to speak to us about a new piece of theatre, please contact our Theatre Commissions Coordinator, Ross Carey