Next Stage

Presented by Theatre Forum in partnership with Dublin Theatre Festival, the Next Stage is the artist development strand of Dublin Theatre Festival. Over the 18 days of the festival, participants are immersed in the programme and given access to an array of leading artists in a packed schedule of talks, interviews, group time and workshops. The Next Stage has been lauded by alumni as “a rare amount of inspiration” and “career changing”.

Past speakers and workshop leaders include Tim Crouch, Garry Hynes, Michael Keegan Dolan, Ruth Little, Mikel Murfi, Thomas Ostermeier, Vivi Tellas and Enda Walsh. The Next Stage also creates valuable opportunities for enriching engagement with other participants, with past programmes sparking successful artistic collaborations.

Participation in the Next Stage is by application only.
Please fill in the online form here.
Applications close at 5pm Thursday 17th August.

Incorporating the feedback of previous Next Stage participants, we will offer more flexibility in the schedule in this year’s edition, along with a contribution to the expenses of those participating.

  • The 2023 Next Stage programme will start on Thursday 28th September and run to Saturday 14th October.
  • Aisling Byrne will be the Next Stage facilitator.
  • Programme participants are encouraged to attend all sessions as well as performances most evenings. Sundays will be completely free, with Mondays reserved for shows only. Tuesday to Saturday there will be a mix of group sessions, workshops and talks during the day, as well as shows. The Tuesday to Saturday schedule varies but most days start at 11am and the day sessions will normally take place in the fully accessible Macro Building, Green Street, Dublin 1.
  • Applications close at 5pm Thursday 17th August.
  • Places will be offered to successful applicants by Friday 25th August.
  • A contribution of €400 will be offered to each participant towards expenses incurred while participating.
  • If you are based outside of Dublin, you can apply for an additional support of €500 towards accommodation/travel expenses. There are a limited number of these available, and they will be awarded on a discretionary basis. Applicants may still be offered a place on the Next Stage regardless of where they live, but due to finite resources, may not be offered this additional support.
  • As in previous years, there will be a Dance Ireland bursary and Dublin Fringe Wildcard awarded to two artists.
  • If you have any questions, please email Irma on

Programme of Activities
The programme of activities of The Next Stage includes:

  • Seeing over 20 shows in the Festival (ticket value of approx. €500)
  • Attending Talking Theatre events
  • Participation in daytime workshops
  • Attending public interviews
  • Question and answer sessions
  • Talks with guest speakers

Applications are invited from anyone working professionally in theatre and the performing arts. Theatre artists and makers at an early career stage as well as more established and experienced professionals are invited to apply. It’s important that each group is a diverse one for participants to get the most of the programme.

Each year, participants are selected by a panel made up of Dublin Theatre Festival and Theatre Forum representatives. The panel reviews all applications received and the following selection criteria are applied:

  • Applicant’s artistic ethos and goals
  • Applicant’s artistic output to date
  • Applicant’s likely role and fit with the group
  • The overall group dynamic and its diversity
  • The potential for future collaboration within the group

Next Stage Facilitator

  • Aisling Byrne Headshot

    Aisling Byrne

    Aisling Byrne is a theatre artist, filmmaker and facilitator from Celbridge, in Co. Kildare. She has worked extensively in the fields of arts and disability, contemporary theatre & socially engaged theatre practice. Aisling is the Artistic Director and founder of Run of the Mill Arts, one of Ireland’s leading arts organisations supporting artists with intellectual disabilities, and Co- Artistic Director of award winning contemporary theatre collective Talking Shop Ensemble. She collaborates regularly with Arcade Film. Work recent + upcoming includes Headspace (short film, 2022), Making a Mark  (National Tour, 2022, Dublin Fringe, 2019), Wunderground (Ceol Connected National Tour, 2022) Ballad of a Care Centre by John Conway (Brightening Air, 2021) Vulnerable (Dear Ireland 3, Abbey Theatre), Outside History (St. Patrick’s Festival Commission, 2021), Quarantine (Culture Night, 2020), Rapids by Shaun Dunne (National Tour 2019), Singing for Survival (Draiocht, 2019) and Split Ends (Dublin Fringe, 2018). As a facilitating artist; she collaborates regularly with Dublin Theatre Festival, Helium Arts, CREATE Collaborative Arts, PlayActing Youth Theatre, and Dublin City Council Culture Company, She has worked as a Creative Associate on the Arts Council’s Creative Schools programme since its pilot in 2018. Aisling’s work is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Kildare County Council and Field:Arts. She holds a BA Hons. in Drama and Theatre Studies, a Postgraduate Diploma and an M.Ed in Educational Drama, all from Trinity College Dublin.