Help us make theatre for everyone

We believe that theatre should be for everyone, irrespective of where they live, how much money they have or whether their life situation allows them to take part.

First Nights was initially set up to creative first-in-a-lifetime theatre experiences for young people who have never had the opportunity to engage with live performance – due to their financial situation, family background or a variety of other circumstances. In 2018 we extended the First Nights programme to isolated older people in communities across Scotland.

Supported by charitable trusts and foundations, business and individual donors across Scotland, since 2009 First Nights has provided an inspiring first theatre experience for over 1,600 people who otherwise would not have had the chance.

Person standing with arms outstretched

How it Works

We work with community groups across Scotland, inviting them to bring participants to one of our First Nights programmes.

Participants receive:

  • A bespoke National Theatre of Scotland workshop, where they learn about the production they are about to see – what it’s about, how it was made, the issues involved
  • Alternative care provision for young people with family caring responsibilities
  • Return transport from their home to the venue
  • Packed lunch or evening meal
  • A wraparound guided experience around the chosen performance, including:
    • a ticket for the show
    • a printed programme
    • an interval drink
    • the opportunity to meet members of the cast and the creative team after the show.

First Nights Programme 2019

Inspired by the digital technology themes explored in Cora Bissett’s production Interference, in March we brought groups of young people to Rockvilla for a series of creative coding and Virtual Reality workshops. This was followed up with a visit to see the show itself, staged in an empty office block in a former tobacco factory in the East End of Glasgow.

In 2019, we ran First Nights programmes around the following productions:

• The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (Perth)
• My Left Right Foot – The Musical (Dundee)
• Red Dust Road (Edinburgh)
• The Panopticon (Glasgow)

Our Firsts Night programme was temporarily suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic, but we are already making plans for its return when it is safe to do so.


How you can support First Nights

Whether you’re a business, an individual or a charitable trust, you can support First Nights at a level that suits you.

You may choose to sponsor an entire year’s First Nights programme, support the activity happening around a particular production, or taking place somewhere local to you or your business.

If you’ve never supported the Arts before, there’s also an opportunity to access matched funding, doubling the benefits on both sides.

To find out more about different levels of support for First Nights, email Adam McDougall, Development Manager adam.mcdougall@nationaltheatrescotland.com or call 0141 227 9236.