Am I eligible?
You need to be over 18 and have a professional track record of past creative work, with at least one professional performing arts credit (in any discipline). If you are under 25, you do not need a professional credit but should be able to demonstrate commitment to the performing arts through university/college productions, youth theatre, music groups, etc. You don’t need to have ever written or worked on a musical before. At least half the writing team of the musical must be resident in the UK. Producers, directors and creatives from non-theatre disciplines are welcome to pitch, but if you’re not going to be one of the writing team, we’d expect at least one of the writers to be named in the pitch. The musical you pitch can have been commissioned or workshopped already, but it can’t have received a professional production already (student or non-professional stagings are fine). You also need to be available to come to BEAM2023 at Oxford Playhouse in late May 2023 (artists selected for BEAM will be paid a fee, with travel bursaries available).
What constitutes a ‘professional production’?
The musical you pitch can have been commissioned or workshopped already, but it can’t have received a professional production already (past student or non-professional stagings are fine). We define a professional production as one that was fully staged and the cast and crew were paid.
Do I need to be a member of MMD or MTN to apply?
No. Applying to pitch for BEAM is open to any eligible writers and creatives.
Do I have to pay to apply to the showcase?
No. There is no charge to apply for a pitching slot; you will however have to cover your expenses in getting to the pitching venue.
Are you looking for any particular type of work?
No. We are keen to see as wide a range of work as we can. Our definition of musical theatre is very broad, and all we ask is that the piece is intended for a live audience and that song plays an integral part in the storytelling.
Do I have to have written a musical before?
No. We are looking for artists at all different stages in their careers, including those exploring musical theatre for the first time – as long as they are bringing a professional level of experience from another discipline to the project.
Are you still interested in me if I’ve written lots of musicals already?
Yes. We want BEAM to provide opportunities to those at the start of their careers, those with a well-established track record, and everything in between.
How do I submit work for a pitching slot?
When applications open, simply complete the application form link on the Mercury Musical Developments website. Filling out this form includes listing some relevant past experience to show you have a professional track record of creative work; and sharing with us how being selected to present at BEAM will benefit your career. We ask for only a brief statement about the project you’d like to pitch – at this stage we don’t want links to content or recordings, your ten minutes at the pitching day will be an opportunity to share your artistic vision and some sample content with us. You will also be asked to identify your first choice of pitching day venue and preferred time, morning or afternoon. If selecting a London venue, please note whilst we will endeavour to allocate your preferred venue, we may need to re-allocate to one of the other London venues depending on demand.
Can I apply with more than one piece of work?
No. We want to create opportunities for as many artists as possible so we will be operating a strict one pitching slot/one artist or company rule. The only exception is if you are part of two different writing teams; in that instance we would consider each team as a separate entity.
Can I apply to more than one pitching day?
No, you should apply for one venue and time only.
Can I pitch an adaptation prior to gaining copyright permission?
No. Please ensure you have secured the rights to use any pre-existing material you may be using before pitching for BEAM.
Do I need to be based locally to my pitching venue?
No, you are welcome to pitch at whichever venue you prefer, regardless of whether you live. You might consider some venues are likely to be more popular than others and it might suit you to pitch on a ‘quieter’ day or at a venue appropriate to your project. For example, one London-based team chose to pitch their rock musical about the Brontë siblings at Leeds Playhouse and this led to a post-BEAM showcase at the venue. Where possible, an artistic director/producer/programmer at the venue will sit on the panel, so this is a good opportunity to get on the radar of a venue that may not already know your work.
How much time will I need to be at the pitching venue?
Maximum one hour. Exact timetables will be provided with the confirmation of your pitching slot; in most cases, pitching slots will be allocated between 10am and 6pm. You will be asked to arrive no less than 20 minutes in advance of your pitching slot, in case the pitch ahead of yours doesn’t arrive, and your pitching slot will last 10 minutes. We will try our very best to keep to schedule, but occasionally there may be up to a 20 minute delay in seeing you from your invited time, so we would suggest expecting to be at the venue for up to 20 minutes before and after your allocated ten minute pitching slot.
Will there be rehearsal room space available at the pitching day venue?
We don’t anticipate there will be a separate rehearsal or ‘warm-up’ space at the pitching venues. You should aim to arrive ready to pitch.
How long will my pitching session be?
Everyone will be given a maximum of 10 minutes to pitch their work but please be aware that we will be operating very strict timekeeping on the day, to make sure we can see as many artists as possible. You will not be allowed to overrun, so if you are still performing once your ten minutes are up we will ask you to stop. There will be a minute or so grace either side of your actual pitching time to allow you to get into and out of the room. We recommend that you practice your pitch to make sure it fits comfortably within that 10 minutes; it is probably worth practicing something that lasts no more than eight minutes as things can very easily overrun on the day, and it’s useful to have time for a couple of questions.
Can I choose the time of my pitch?
Yes, you will select an approximate time when you apply, but please note this is not confirmed until you hear from us with your time and venue confirmation email.
What resources will be in the room?
There will be a keyboard, wifi, plug socket and speaker system available – exact details for your pitching venue will be given nearer the time. Any other resources/instruments you will need to bring with you, and any set-up will need to happen within your ten minutes (so it’s a good idea to tell us about your show while someone else gets things ready).
Do I need to bring performers/musicians with me?
This is up to you. If you want to bring performers/musicians to present your work then you are very welcome to do so – we know that not everyone enjoys being centre stage – but you will need to find those performers yourself and meet any associated costs. Any performance will still also need to fit within that ten minute slot. The panel who will be assessing your work will be made up of experienced theatre practitioners, accustomed to looking at work in early stages of development, and spotting potential, so please don’t worry about the standard of the performance or think that performing the work yourself will harm your chances.
Can I pitch via the internet or send a digital pitch in?
We want to meet you in person and hear about your show/idea ‘live’ and at first hand. There are a number of pitching days around the UK so we hope one will be right for you. In exceptional circumstances, we may consider accepting an e-pitch but you would need to explain the reasons and it would need to be agreed on an individual basis.
If I pitched for/presented at a previous BEAM, can I pitch again?
You are welcome to pitch a new project for BEAM but not the one you pitched for previous BEAMs, unless the piece has been substantially revised or expanded. Please let us know if you think you fall into this category and we will agree this on an individual basis.
Can I watch other pitches?
No. Each pitch is private and only the members of each pitching team and the industry panel will be in the room.
Can I bring scripts or demos/CDs to give to the panel?
No. The panel want to hear you pitch your idea in the 10 minutes available to each writer/team. They do not have the capacity to read or transport additional materials from all pitches, so out of fairness to all, decisions will be made based on what is shared during the ten minute pitch rather than on wider material. In rare cases, we may ask for additional materials/information afterwards if required.
How accessible will the venue be?
All the pitching venues and the BEAM showcase venue are public buildings and therefore every effort has been made to ensure they are wheelchair accessible. If you have any particular access requirements for making your pitch, please inform us in the relevant section of the application form, and we will do our best to provide whatever access support is required.
I’m not good at pitching – what should I do?
We are holding two free masterclasses to give further guidance on pitching for BEAM. At each of these you will hear from previous industry panellists as well as artists who have previously pitched themselves, and you will have the chance to ask questions.
The first of these was held online on Monday 8th August This will be available to view online after both events.
The second will be held in person at Theatre at the Tabard in London on the 1st of September and you can sign up via EVENTBRITE.
Will I get feedback on my pitch?
Yes, if you would like it! We are pleased that for the first time, thanks to the support of the PRS Foundation, we will be offering feedback from the panel to everyone who pitches. This can either be written or via phone call/Zoom and will take place after your pitching day (but before the end of 2022). We hope this will be useful and will ensure that pitching for BEAM is a valuable experience for everyone, whether or not your piece is selected for the showcase.
When will I find out if I’ve got a place at the showcase?
We don’t make any decisions about the work we are selecting for the showcase until we have completed all of the pitching days. We will then make decisions and notify all artists as soon as possible, most likely by early January 2023. Please don’t assume that just because you haven’t heard whilst others have, that you don’t have a place.
If I’m successful in securing a place at the showcase will you be able to provide any funding to support me?
For those presenting at BEAM, we will provide a financial contribution to writers’ preparation time, and a budget for the presentation itself. Those who are not based in the region local to the BEAM venue – Oxford Playhouse – will be able to apply for a travel bursary, although whether this will be able to cover all travel costs can’t be guaranteed. The amount of support we can offer you will be made clear when we offer you an opportunity to present at BEAM, so you can decide to accept the offer with knowledge of the financial costs.
Who can buy tickets to BEAM2023?
BEAM is an industry event and we will invite artistic directors, producers, programmers, funders, higher education colleges, publishers, and anyone else with resources to help develop/stage your show to buy tickets to the event in order to see a diverse presentation of new musical theatre work at all stages of development, from right across the UK in one place.
Do I need to be a member of MMD/MTN to buy tickets to the showcase?
No, all professional creatives and venues with a declared interested or who are already involved in new musical theatre are welcome to attend BEAM. We hope any who are not already MMD/MTN members will consider becoming part of our network. Details on how to join and what we offer are available on our respective websites or from Kate McKeown at email@example.com.