Are you an early career theatre artist? This programme might be for you...

Tale of Two Cities is an artist development programme for very early career theatre artists. Here, Rosa Makela shares her experience of taking part
Are you an early career theatre artist? This programme might be for you...

Rosa Mäkelä, who took part in the Tales of Two Cities Programme.

THE Tales of Two Cities artist development programme is a partnership between Cork Midsummer Festival and The Everyman, and MAYK and Bristol Old Vic, in the UK.

Myself, Eadaoin Fox and Aaron O’Neill were the inaugural awardees of the programme. Our time spent together with the guidance and mentorship of the organisers has immeasurably impacted our careers as artists and, not to be dramatic, my feelings of belonging as an artist, in Cork city.

Aaron, Eadaoin and I are all graduates from the Drama and Theatre Studies degree in UCC. We first met there as perhaps overly-committed members of the Dramat society. But what we enjoyed about the society - its sense of community, the freedom to make theatre, to discover our creative tastes, with very low stakes - were the things we felt were very much lacking after graduation.

This is one of the things Tales of Two cities provided us with. The opportunity felt unique in that its main focus is on developing yourself as an artist and following your creative impulses, without the pressure of having to present something to an audience. We had space to experiment again, and discover our artistic selves.

The call-out for the Tales of Two Cities programme was launched last year just after myself and Eadaoin had had a conversation about deciding to commit ourselves to putting on some work together.  To just try it for a year at least in Cork, while we saved up to move somewhere else.

Eadaoin had returned recently from studying Theatre Directing in Royal Holloway in London and intended to go back at some point, because it felt like that was the place where opportunities were, and that’s where people go to have careers in theatre - that or Dublin.

Aaron had previously moved to Dublin for this reason but luckily for Cork, was not too pleased with the opportunities available for him there either and found he spent more time trying to work to cover his rent than actually being able to connect with the theatre scene.

The Tales of Two Cities Artistic Development Programme
The Tales of Two Cities Artistic Development Programme

The call-out for applicants caught our attention because of the specification that it was for very early career theatre artists with less than three years’ professional experience (don’t underestimate the importance of the inclusion of ‘very’ in this statement — like most creative people I have extreme imposter syndrome, and describing myself as simply ‘early career’ last year, would have felt much like being too big for my proverbial boots).

I think this programme fills a really important space in the landscape of Cork theatre: it is an acknowledgement the city wants to hold onto its (very) early career artists and that Cork Midsummer Festival and The Everyman are invested in connecting artists like us to their organisations and to helping us grow, develop and establish ourselves as local artists.

As well as integrating and connecting us to the local arts community in Cork, central to Tales of Two Cities is the opportunity to see international work. 

We travelled to Bristol twice during the programme, to see work at Mayfest, MAYK’s festival of contemporary theatre, and shows in the Bristol Old Vic, The Tobacco Factory and other venues around Bristol, including most memorably, The Mount Without, an old church repurposed as a dance venue. It was inspiring to see so much work and see how theatre functions in a different city.

Along with all the work we saw, the programme connected us with artists at similar career points based in Bristol. We met them on our two trips, as well as welcoming them to Cork during the Midsummer festival, where we also attended nearly every show that was programmed. I have never seen so much theatre as I did in the last year, and this is solely down to the emphasis the programme puts on it, by providing tickets to the shows and also providing us with a fee for our time, allowingus to take time off work to see the work that we did, and to take the time off to travel.

The combination of support in professional development, space, freedom and the encouragement from the organisers, made this programme so fulfilling, creatively fruitful and extremely reassuring about the place for artists like us in Cork.

Unlike Aaron and Eadaoin, I’m not originally from Cork, I moved here for university and by last year, hadn’t quite figured out where to go next. I wanted to stay, but, like Aaron and Eadaoin, I thought for a while that a career in theatre started elsewhere.

Along with so many other wonderful experiences, Tales of Two cities gave me a reason to stay. And the connections I’ve made because of it aren’t going anywhere.


Tales Of Two Cities is an artist development programme for very early career theatre artists – an international partnership between Cork Midsummer Festival and The Everyman in Cork, Ireland and MAYK and Bristol Old Vic in Bristol, UK.

It is aimed at theatre artists with a maximum of three years professional practice. It’s for individuals or groups of artists interested in making theatre and developing their practice in forms other than playwriting, for artists who are finding their voice and figuring out how to articulate and focus their vision. Artists must be from or based in Cork. We want to support a new cohort of theatre makers to develop their practice in Cork city and county.

Central to the programme is the opportunity to see international work, develop international networks and receive guidance from international practitioners.

The programme will involve travelling to Bristol to experience work, meeting artists based there, and attending workshops by artists based there. Participating artists will receive a fee to cover their time for travel, workshops, mentorship, and development sessions. Additional flights and accommodation will be provided for time spent in Bristol.

Artists will also develop the beginnings of a new idea or project throughout the programme, supported by Cork Midsummer Festival and The Everyman, and mentored by professional practitioners. The work will be developed without the pressure of having to present anything to a public audience. This is an opportunity to assimilate, to dream, and to begin to create something, whilst being influenced or excited by the work of international practitioners.

We welcome applications from all early career theatre artists based in Cork and we would like to encourage applications from members of groups who are underrepresented in the arts sector, including Asian, Black people, People of Colour, people with disabilities, neurodiverse people, members of the D/deaf community, members of the Traveller community, LGBTQI+ people, to apply. We would also like to encourage those who identify as female or non-binary to apply.

Application Criteria - Who Can Apply?

You must be from or based in Cork, and in the first three years of your professional practice as an artist (not counting 2020 and 2021 due to ongoing restrictions).

You must be over 21 and not currently in undergraduate or postgraduate education.

You can be from any performance discipline – theatre, dance, music, circus, socially engaged practice, combined arts.

If you are from a theatre discipline, this programme is specifically for theatre makers and artists who wish to develop a form other than playwriting.

You must have availability for the key dates in the programme, and be happy to travel to Bristol if government guidelines allow.

You must be curious, open and excited about learning from other artists in order to develop your own practice and networks.

You can be working individually or as part of a group (one application per group).

How do I apply?

Send a CV (2 pages max) and a one-page cover letter explaining how you fit the criteria, a little about your practice as an artist, why this opportunity will help you to develop your practice, and what you would like to get out of the six-month programme.

They’d also like to hear about an idea that you would like to develop as part of the programme.

Alternative to a cover letter, you can also send a 3-minute video explaining the above.

If you need any additional support with the application process, please contact

Send your application to by midday on Monday 13 February. Late applications will not be accepted.

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