Call for Proposals: The Adrian Howells Award for Intimate Performance 2019-2020

Adrian Howells (1962 – 2014) was one of the world’s leading figures in the field of one to one and intimate performance. Over two decades he developed an artistic practice that focused on the particular power and transformative possibility that could be achieved through creating a profound, immediate and personal connection to his audiences. Through these works and the care he took in every aspect of the experience he was often able to deeply affect those who participated in these encounters.

The Adrian Howells Award for Intimate Performance is an opportunity for a UK artist to develop and present an early staging of a new performance-based project in Glasgow and London. The Award aims to celebrate the intimate work that Adrian pioneered and exceled at, as well as providing an opportunity to explore new territories in the field of one to one and intimate performance.

The award is open to any proposal that seeks to explore the form of intimate performance. Some areas that you may wish to consider:

  • The impact of the size and proximity of the audience
  • The audience as active in the performance
  • The use of autobiography
  • The creation of immersive environments
  • The personal as political
  • The ethics and duty of care around the relationship to the audience

Previous award recipients:
Nic Green – 2016/17 
Amy Rosa McLachlan Sayer – 2017/18 
Rhiannon Armstrong – 2018/19

The Award provides

  • An opportunity to explore a project idea in two stages – both in Glasgow and London.
  • £4,000 project commission towards the awardee’s fee and expenses in the development and presentation of the proposed project and performances in Glasgow and London.
  • Development/rehearsal space at the University of Glasgow and National Theatre of Scotland for the initial phase and at Battersea Arts Centre for the subsequent development (exact dates tbc, and subject to availability)
  • We will work with the awardee to define the correct context for the sharing of the project. We would like there to be a public outcome in Glasgow during May 2020 (13th May to 1st June approx) as part of the Take Me Somewhere Festival and in London as part of The Sick of The Fringe Festival (2021).
  • We will also work with the awardee to determine the most appropriate location for the sharing. It may be best suited to a Glasgow or London venue but they may want to follow Adrian’s path of using sites or participatory/community settings.
  • The Glasgow and London presentations will be subject to separate letters of agreement with the awardee, and may include a mutually agreed level of technical, marketing and event support by the presenting venues; please note that this support many be constrained by the spaces and context needed for the performance, and will be subject to separate discussions with the awardee.
  • The Sick of The Fringe will provide a tailored care package of support for the London presentation which will be agreed with the selected artist on a case by case basis.
  • Two weeks residency accommodation in BAC, (Dates TBC)
  • Return travel to London for the BAC stage if not based in London. Any travel to and from Glasgow must be factored into the £4000.
  • Mentorship from Professor Deirdre Heddon of the University of Glasgow.
  • Advice, guidance from LJ Findlay-Walsh (Take Me Somewhere, Artistic Director) and representatives of the other project partner organisations as well as practical support from the Take Me Somewhere team.
  • We will work with the awardee to set and manage the project commission budget and provide producing support to the awardee including contracting of collaborators.


Applicants must be based in the UK and must have been working professionally for a minimum of three years.

You do not need a track record in intimate performance but you will need to demonstrate a commitment to exploring this field in your application.


Deadline for Submissions: 18:00 Friday 20 September

Interviews: Wednesday 2 October at Battersea Arts Centre, London

Glasgow performances as part of Take Me Somewhere Festival: Between May 13 and June 1 2020

London Presentation: The Sick of the Fringe Festival, London (Feb, 2021)

Application Process

Please send proposals to [email protected] and provide up to two pages that include:

  • An introduction to who you are. (up to 250 words)
  • Your reason for applying for the Award and why you are interested in working in intimate performance. (up to 350 words)
  • A description of your proposed project (600 words max). We will assess the proposals on the quality of the ideas and would like you to be realistic about what can be achieved within the given budget.
  • A broad outline timeline and how you propose to spend the £4,000.

In addition you may also include:

  • An up-to-date CV.
  • 2 video clips of your previous work.

If you would like to apply via a video message, please do so, and ensure it contains the same information as requested above, within a 5 minute maximum duration.

NB. We may not be able to provide detailed feedback on all proposals.

Background to the Award

The Adrian Howells Award for Intimate Performance is an opportunity for an artist to develop work and present a new performance based project in Glasgow as part of international performance festival Take Me Somewhere and in BAC, London. The Award aims to celebrate the intimate work that Adrian pioneered and exceled at, as well as providing an opportunity to explore new territories in this field of practice.

In recent decades intimate performance and one to one has emerged as a growing area in contemporary arts practice. Adrian’s legacy illustrates how powerful these experiences can be and how influential this work now is. When considering Adrian’s work we can define intimate performance practice as that which aims to connect at a direct and immediate level with a small audience including the form of one to one – the act of staging an event for one audience-participant at a time. We also recognise that exciting new developments in this field might offer further definitions, for example work that deliberately plays with and disrupts ideas of intimacy, authenticity and the relationship to the audience. (These definitions are informed by the new publication It’s All Allowed: The Performances of Adrian Howells, edited by Deirdre Heddon and Dominic Johnson.)

Howells would devise performance situations of ‘accelerated friendship’ that were often powerfully affecting and responsive to contemporary conditions of living …. provoked by his own personal questions – about love, intimacy, wellbeing, and learning, and the impediments life poses to these goals. His performances were therefore concerned fundamentally with care, safety, generosity, affirmation, and pleasure. Such affirmative aspirations were nevertheless tempered, in performance, with discomfort, embarrassment, risk, and grief, as sometimes-unwelcome effects of the practice of personal and intimate exposure…. [delivering] sophisticated insights into what it means to be together with another person in a social relation, to be connected, and, outside that provisional relation, what it means to be thrown back upon oneself once again, alone.’ Deirdre Heddon and Dominic Johnson

We would like to provide a creative opportunity to an artist who is passionate about this field and who would benefit from an opportunity to explore the complexities, challenges and risks that are inherent within this practice. We know that it would be impossible to replicate the unique combination of elements that defined Adrian Howells’ work. Rather we are looking for a project idea that looks to the future and is open to taking this area of performance forward in new and surprising directions. Although Adrian was perhaps best known for his one to one works we are not specifically looking for a proposal for one audience member. (Although this equally may be the awardee’s chosen practice). We have left this open to allow for contemporary interpretations and challenges to the form of intimate performance.

Adrian relished his roles as teacher and mentor, and he himself was driven to continuous learning both in academic contexts and through artistic residencies. We are interested in the quality of the awardee’s project idea and additionally we would also like this to be a developmental opportunity. Although we suggest that there is a public sharing at the end of the project we will work with the chosen artist to frame and contextualise the work in acknowledgment that given the project budget it may still be in process and development.

The Adrian Howells Award for Intimate Performance is led by The National Theatre of Scotland, Battersea Arts Centre, The Sick of The Fringe and Take Me Somewhere Festival with support from the University of Glasgow and the Live Art Development Agency.

Banner image credit:

‘The Pleasure of Being’, Adrian Howells. Image by Niall Walker.


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