NST, Nuffield Southampton Theatres | What's On Southampton

NST Laboratory


a place providing opportunity for experimentation, observation, or practice in a field of study

Laboratory is our artist development hub supporting, nurturing and developing work locally, regionally and nationally. There are many ways in which we could support you and the work you want to make: from connecting you to an artistic community, to road-testing an idea at our quarterly scratch evenings, to in-depth research and development residencies. 

At NST we want to inspire and encourage, invite and collaborate with a range of theatre-makers to grow Southampton as a vibrant and supportive place to make theatre for everyone and to enrich our local cultural ecology.



The Laboratory Network is a membership scheme for professional and aspiring theatre-makers which aims to put artists at the core of what we do here at NST and assist the development of new creative relationships.

We support all theatre-makers working or aspiring to work through the many events and workshops the Laboratory creates occasions to meet other local theatre-makers, spark ideas and let projects develop.

Membership costs £5 per year and includes:

  • £5 preview tickets for ALL of Nuffield’s produced shows, and many of the NST Studio shows. Seeing work is just as important as making work and a great way to be inspired! 
  • Free, one-on-one producing surgeries.  Book in a session with our Artist Development Producer to bounce ideas round and get strategic advice on your next steps.
  • Be one of the first to hear about our open call opportunities to develop or present work at Experiment and through our other programmes. A safe and simple way to road-test new work, get feedback, advice and support from audiences and other artists.
  • Priority attendance at limited capacity events like Grapevine. Facilitated events to broaden your knowledge and to meet new people who are interested in similar work.
  • The regular Network Digest emails packed with details of upcoming events, opportunities, call-outs and exclusive Laboratory deals. Artists can also promote their events in the digest. Keep up-to-date with behind the scenes info, and be the first to know about our opportunities.

Sign-up process

To become a member of the Laboratory Network, simply give our box office a call and asked to pay the £5 membership fee. This allows us to offset a portion of our administrative and management costs in the distribution of materials and running of events. NST Laboratory is committed to supporting theatre makers through sustainable and affordable opportunities and your membership fee helps us to make sure we can continue to do this. If the membership fee is a barrier to you, please just get in touch with our Artist Development Producer and we will see what we can do!

We do require members to be over the age of 18. Our Connect Department's page has lots of brilliant opportunities for anyone under 18 so check out their web page for information. 



Each week we have spaces at NST City that aren't being used for rehearsals or workshops, and we want to offer them to Lab Members if they are available. Each week we will send an email to members saying which spaces are available for the following week. To book one of them you simply have to email back and ask. These spaces could range from one of our artspaces to our rehearsal room and can be used for rehearsals, meetings, auditions, development work or just to provide you with somewhere quiet to think. Don't forget that you can use our cafe any time for meetings and as a workspace.

The Spare Room Sceme is only for last minute and ad hoc bookings. When the building is busy we can't guarantee that we will have any spaces available. If you would like to book a space for more regular meetings or rehearsals, why not get in touch with our hires team who will be able to talk to you about getting a really great deal on rates. 



If you're looking to meet with other playwrights, directors, artists, performers & producers in Hampshire, then come to Grapevine, our informal artist networking evening, held alongside our NST Productions.

We want to present an opportunity to allow local artists to network with each other and share their knowledge. We facilitate the conversation and encourage artists to ask questions and share their knowledge and experiences with the group.

Attending Grapevine is free and there is no need to let us know you're coming, although we reccommend booking a £5 Lab Member ticket to see the show after the event - just let the Box Office know that you are attending Grapevine and they will seat us all together (you are also welcome to sit on your own if you would like!). You are welcome to bring friends and family, but please note that only Lab Members will be elegable for £5 tickets.


Finding ways to research and develop an idea is an integral part of making performance. We know that having a safe and supportive environment to play and test out what you've got is important so we've dedicated one of our strands to allowing you to explore and present your work in progress.

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Tenancy is our more in-depth research and development programme, designed to offer space and time to develop a project, an in-kind investment to support a funding application, and perhaps some tailored feedback and producing advice on your work. 

Each Tenancy offers an artist one or two weeks in one of our spaces to develop or rehearse an idea without any obligation to share or present at the conclusion. We aim to be as flexible and responsive in our support to you on your tenancy with us. When we speak with you we'll work out what in-kind package is most useful for you. It can be anything from producing support, creative feedback and access to Nuffield expertise in areas like technical, marketing, fundraising and participation. The in-kind package could represent up to £1,600 of in-kind investment which can be leveraged against a funding application. 

We usually offer Tenancies directly to artists who we are building a relationship with, independently of any formal application process. However, we will occasionally open Tenancy for applications from anyone in the Laboratory Network which we will advertise through the Laboratory Network digest.


Throughout the year group members will be offered workshops from leading industry directors, exclusive opportunities to observe rehearsals, and first consideration for assisting opportunities on NST’s main programme. Participation in all workshops and events is entirely free, and to be eligible you don’t need any professional experience but simply must be committed to pursuing a career as a theatre director. 

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Our Laboratory Creative Associate scheme is designed for early-career creatives to undertake a year's attachment to the theatre. Each associate get's to assist on a main stage show, contribute to NST and lead on creating their own response piece together.

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If you want to start a relationship with us, the best way is to get in touch and introduce youself, whether that's in person or via email. Invite us to your shows, come along to the many Laboratory events we host, sign up to the Network or come in for a coffee. We are a small team, but endeavour to reply and meet with as many local artists as possible. If you are going to invite us to a performance, try and email us in good time. 

Please note, that because we are a small team we are unable to receive and read unsolicited scripts. The best way for us to learn about you and your work as a writer is to submit something for Experiment or invite us to a reading, sharing or performance of your work. 

If you have any questions about Laboratory, NST or just want to say hello, pop us an email: [email protected]