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National Youth Theatre

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Title: National Youth Theatre  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Lloyd Owen, Matt Lucas, Daniel Craig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Adam O'Brian
Collection: 1956 Establishments in the United Kingdom, Theatre Companies in London, Theatre Companies in the United Kingdom, Youth Theatre Companies
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National Youth Theatre

National Youth Theatre
Founded 1956
Founder Michael Croft
Kenneth Spring
Type Registered charity and company limited by guarantee
Registration no. 306075
Headquarters Holloway, London, England
Key people
Paul Roseby
(CEO, Artistic Director)
Slogan "Discovering Epic Talent"

The National Youth Theatre is a registered charity in London. It is committed to the creative, personal, and social development of young people through the medium of creative arts; to this end, it aims to use theatre to aid the personal and social development of young people.[1] It was founded in 1956 as the world's first youth theatre[2] and has built a reputation as a breeding ground for renowned British actors such as Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig, Daniel Day-Lewis, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Colin Firth, Derek Jacobi, Ben Kingsley, Rosamund Pike, and Helen Mirren as well as singer Ed Sheeran.[3]

Every year, the National Youth Theatre holds acting auditions and technical theatre interviews around the United Kingdom; on average, it receives over 4,500 applicants. Currently, around 500 places are offered on summer intake acting and technical courses (in costume, lighting and sound, scenery and prop making, and stage management), which offer participants membership of the National Youth Theatre upon completion.[4] Members are then eligible to audition for the company's productions, which are staged in London's West End, around the UK, and internationally.[5]

Members staged the Olympic and Paralympic Team Welcome Ceremonies at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.[6] In 2013, the National Youth Theatre raised their age limit to 25 and introduced a new six-week summer course called Epic Stages to cater for performance and production talent in their new upper age group of 18–25.[7] In summer 2014, members staged the Village Ceremonies at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.[8]


  • History 1
  • Alumni 2
  • Productions 3
    • 2009 3.1
    • 2010 3.2
    • 2011 3.3
    • 2012 3.4
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The National Youth Theatre in Holloway, London

The National Youth Theatre was founded in 1956 by Michael Croft, aided by Kenneth Spring.[9] Croft had been responsible for producing a number of school plays at Alleyn's Boys' School; following his departure, he was approached by a number of pupils from the school to continue working together on productions in school holidays. The first production of Henry V created something of a stir. At the time, it was unusual for young actors to be performing Shakespeare, and this innovative venture attracted the attention of a curious public. Among the first audiences were Richard Burton and Sir Ralph Richardson, who had agreed to become the first President of what Croft called The Youth Theatre. The organisation evolved rapidly throughout the UK involving young people on a national basis.

Croft died in 1986 and was succeeded by Edward Wilson as Director. Building on Croft's successful vision, Wilson took the company forward into new territory, increasing its range of activities and reinforcing its approach to technical production values. Wilson also recognised the opportunity to extend the organisation to more disadvantaged young people, and started the first Outreach department in 1989, working initially with young offenders and gradually widening the opportunities to other socially excluded groups. Wilson also secured the organisation's current headquarters in North London, which now houses all of its production facilities, including rehearsal rooms, scenery and costume workshops, sound studios, photographic dark rooms, and administration offices.

Wilson left the company in 2004 when Sid Higgins (Executive Director), John Hoggarth (Artistic Director), and Paul Roseby (Artistic Director) took over. Since then, they have built on the legacy inherited from Croft and Wilson, and the organisation has continued to expand its opportunities to young people from a more diverse background through a wider range of theatrical projects and collaborations. Hoggarth stepped down in 2007 and Roseby continues as the organisation's Artistic Director.[10] In 2010, National Youth Theatre moved administrative offices from Holloway Road to the Woolyard on Bermondsey Street. In January 2012, Roseby was appointed as Artistic Director and CEO.


For a full list of previous notable students, see Category:National Youth Theatre members.


Traditionally, National Youth Theatre have done most of their work with their members in the summer months, but this is changing more and more. Creative events and performances take place throughout the year, courses take place in the Easter holidays, and the company continues to expand its work with young people from all areas of the community.


The theme of National Youth Theatre's 2009 season was "first timers",[11] which included the following productions:

  • Tits/Teeth – two young girls caught up in a body obsessed world (one comically and one much less so) from disco mania to body dysmorphia, bulimia and Japanese man bras. Written by Michael Wynne.[12]
  • Foot/Mouth – a night of black comedy from dismembered washed up feet to a world governed by a control of language. Written by John Nicholson and Steven Cann.[13]
  • Eye/Balls – the tale of a young student's attempt at paying off her loan by joining the sex trade, and the story of young men away on a stag night. Written by Sarah Solemani.[14]
  • Fathers Inside – based on true stories from inside male prisons. Following on from the Child’s Play programme using active theatre techniques to explore the challenges faced by young fathers in Rochester Young Offenders Institute, the National Youth Theatre mounted a scratch performance of Fathers Inside at the Soho Theatre studio in 2008 with a mixed cast of NYT members and participants from the social inclusion programme.[15]
  • Skunk – explores the effects that smoking hydroponic weed, or skunk, has on young people, how their families are affected, and why this is becoming a bigger and bigger issue today. Loosely based on Kafka's The Metamorphosis.[16]

National Youth Theatre's 2009 intake members performed a 'Stadium Arts' show outside the Laban Dance Centre in Deptford, London. The performances lasted approximately 25 minutes and consisted of a combination of all the course cohorts work to create an ensemble physical theatre performance.


The theme of National Youth Theatre's 2010 season was "the five elements",[17] which included the following productions:

  • Living the Dream – a re-working of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Shanghai Expo.[18]
  • Ghost Office – a site-specific piece exploring the impact of unemployment in the West Midlands, caused by the recession.[19]
  • S'warm – a 500-strong cast of young actors swarming around London from Battersea Power Station to Canary Wharf in a new style of street spectacle.[20]
  • Casino 52 – an online drama produced by the National Youth Theatre in association with IdeasTap.[21]
  • Relish – a play about the superstar Victorian chef Alexis Soyer at the Tramshed in the heart of buzzing Shoreditch. Written by James Graham.[22]
  • Stars Over Kabul – a tale of modern love and loss set against Afghan Star, the TV talent show that swept the nation. Written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz.[23]

2010's intake members again performed their "stadium arts" presentations at the Laban Centre. The theme this year was "the foreigner".[24]


The theme of National Youth Theatre's 2011 season was "the F word: fear, faith, and fundamentalism",[25] which included the following productions:

  • Our Days of Rage – a production that saw young actors and writers responding to past riots and protests in North Africa, the Middle East, and in London at The Old Vic Tunnels.[26]
  • Orpheus and Eurydice – Molly Davies' reimagining of the Greek myth set at The Old Vic Tunnels.[27]
  • Slick – a cast of 250 young actors continuing the three-part environmental trilogy at Sheffield's Park Hill estate.[28]
  • Ghost Office – a site-specific piece of interactive theatre written by Rachel Clive that takes its audience on a journey through redundant spaces, bringing them and their stories to life in the Lighthouse building in Glasgow.[29]

National Youth Theatre's 2011 intake members performed at the Watch This Space Festival outside the National Theatre. This was the first time the "stadium arts" course's work was open to the public. The theme was "welcoming the world".[30]


In summer 2012, National Youth Theatre created and performed the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Team Welcome Ceremonies, with 200 of its young members welcoming 20,000 Olympians and Paralympians to the Athletes' Village in the Olympic Park with 200 performances.[31]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Time to apply to National Youth Theatre". 3 December 2009. 
  3. ^ Whitney, Hilary (17 Jul 2006). "It's a stage they've all been through". London:  
  4. ^ "Matt Lucas urges future stars to join youth theatre that inspired him".  
  5. ^ "Bridging different worlds for National Youth Theatre".  
  6. ^ Two weeks that could change your lives': Team GB athletes given carnival welcome to the Olympic Village"'".  
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ drawn from
  11. ^ "2009 Season: First Timers". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  12. ^ "When your bum looks big in this.. – Theatre". Bexley Times. 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  13. ^ Michael Coveney (2009-08-31). "Foot / Mouth, Soho Theatre, London – Reviews – Theatre & Dance". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  14. ^ Maddy Costa (2009-08-21). "Eye/Balls | Theatre review | Stage". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  15. ^ Garner, Richard (2009-06-30). "National Youth Theatre gives youngsters a break – Education News – Education". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  16. ^ Lyn Gardner (2009-09-10). "Skunk | Theatre review | Stage". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  17. ^ "National Youth Theatre of Great Britain Closes LIVING THE DREAM 7/30". 30 July 2010. 
  18. ^ "National Youth Theatre of Great Britain Announces LIVING THE DREAM et al for 2010 Season". 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  19. ^ "Ghost Office – National Youth Theatre – Waterfront on Friday and Saturday | Brierley Hill Blog". 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  20. ^ 19 August 2010 Written by Jake Orr (2010-08-19). "Review: S’Warm, National Youth Theatre | A Younger Theatre". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  21. ^ "Casino 52 Launches!". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  22. ^ 07 September 2010 Written by Jake Orr (2010-09-07). "Review: Relish, National Youth Theatre | A Younger Theatre". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  23. ^ "Stars Over Kabul". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  24. ^ from IdeasTap Plus 2 years ago (2010-11-05). "National Youth Theatre 2010 Showreel on Vimeo". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  25. ^ "NYT at The Old Vic Tunnels". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  26. ^ "BBC News – National Youth Theatre brings 'rage' to London stage". 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  27. ^ Henry Hitchings (2011-08-31). "Orpheus and Eurydice, Old Vic Tunnels – review – Theatre & Dance – Arts – London Evening Standard". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  28. ^ Youngs, Ian (2011-09-02). "BBC News – Sheffield housing estate made star of theatre show". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  29. ^ "Events: Ghost Office, Glasgow". IdeasTap. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  30. ^
  31. ^

External links

  • Official website
  • IdeasTap page
  • National Youth Theatre, Registered Charity no. 306075 at the Charity Commission
  • The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS)
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