The National Theatre has partnered with the Sir Peter Shaffer Charitable Foundation in committing to supporting playwrights with an initial two-year collaboration. Celebrating the life and career of Sir Peter Shaffer, this partnership will continue his desire to support playwrights as they create larger scale plays.

Awarding a total of 14 commissions over the next two years for playwrights from across the UK, the National Theatre’s New Work Department will work closely with companies and theatres beyond the capital to identify future talent. Of the seven commissions each year, two will be given for plays being developed by the National Theatre and five will be an open call to theatres and companies from across the UK, working in partnership with the National Theatre. All commissions will be for plays with more than three characters. Details of how to apply for commission support will be available from spring 2022.

Peter Shaffer had a long and creative association with the National Theatre. His play The Royal Hunt of the Sun, performed at the Old Vic in 1964, was the first premiere of a new play ever produced by the National Theatre. Other celebrated works performed at the National Theatre include Equus and Amadeus, both of which were made into films, the latter winning 8 Oscars in 1985. Amadeus was last performed on the Olivier stage in 2018, in a revival of Michael Longhurst’s critically acclaimed 2016 production. Adam Gillen and Lucian Msamati performed the roles of Mozart and Salieri.

Speaking about Peter Shaffer, actor Lucian Msamati said: “Sir Peter tinkered for years with the confrontation scene between Mozart and Salieri in Amadeus long after the play’s acclaim on stage and screen. This obsessive, gleeful, rigorous love and dedication to his craft is mind-blowing and inspirational to me.  I can think of no greater way to honour this master storyteller than by nurturing and supporting that same spirit and endeavour in generations of great storytellers to come.”

Rufus Norris, Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre, says: “Theatre-makers create stories we never forget. We’re thrilled to be working in partnership with the Sir Peter Shaffer Charitable Foundation. Peter was one of the great writers of his generation and the National Theatre was enormously lucky to have such a fruitful and creative relationship with him. In nurturing talent from across the UK, this partnership will continue Sir Peter’s legacy, inspiring and supporting emerging talent. Together we can empower artists and craftspeople to make world leading work.”

The New Work Department is the engine room of the National Theatre. It feeds the NT’s stages with new plays, adaptions and musical theatre while providing a developmental resource for a wide range of artists working throughout British theatre at various stages of their careers. In the Studio building, writers, actors and practitioners of all kinds can explore, test-out and devise new work in a supportive environment and experiment with form, prepare for production and workshop material. We host a year-round writer in residence, offer five rooms to writers on attachment, and host the NT Director’s Course, the Immersive Storytelling Studio, the Archive and facilities for learning and development.