National Youth Theatre Announces Full 2018 Season

Paul Roseby OBE, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain (NYT) has today announced the summer and autumn season of work for 2018.

Founded in 1956, the NYT is the UK's leading youth arts organisation and is recognised as the leading provider of free alternatives to formal theatre training, with alumni including Dame Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Chiwetel Ejiofor CBE, Rosamund Pike and Sir Daniel Day Lewis. Paul Roseby has been at the helm of the organisation for the past 15 years and last month received the OBE in recognition of services to drama and young people in the Queen's 2018 Birthday Honours. Throughout his tenure he has facilitated over 150,000 creative educational opportunities for young people, established financial sustainability for the charity, championed diversity and launched numerous new programmes to successfully support and showcase the best young talent in the arts. As part of the NYT's ongoing commitment to outreach and access, today also marks the launch of NYT's new Auditions Access Fund, supported by NYT Alumnus and Patron Hugh Bonneville, which will grant £37,500 over three years to fund free preparation workshops, auditions and bursaries at 30 schools and youth groups around Great Britain which have cut drama provision.

Paul Roseby OBE said, "As opportunities for young people to engage in drama in schools have sadly decreased, the demand for National Youth Theatre opportunities are up and we're responding to that by working in more venues around the country than ever before this year. Whilst this puts increased pressure on fundraising, we're grateful to all those enabling this expansion, not least our generous Patron and alumnus Hugh Bonneville who is supporting a new free auditions initiative around Great Britain. At far reaching venues from King's Lynn to Edinburgh, we'll also be developing and staging wide-reaching new content, responding directly to the #MeToo movement, disenfranchised working-class northern voices and the impact of social media on mental health, all wrapped up with a dob of wit, grit and brave storytelling."

NYT Patron and alumnus Hugh Bonneville said, "The chance for young people to explore their creative talents is essential for their development. For some, taking part in drama can inspire a career in the creative industries; for all, it provides invaluable skills, building confidence in communication and self-expression. The decline of drama in schools and cuts to local youth theatre groups is a reality, which is why I am establishing the NYT Audition Access Fund. This initiative will give young talent in specially selected areas of the country where access to drama is under threat the chance to audition for and experience the National Youth Theatre for free. Becoming a member of the NYT changed my life and I'm delighted to be playing my part in giving the next generation a similar opportunity."

The 2018 summer and autumn programme includes the sixth annual REP season, featuring the world premiere of Victoria's Knickers by NYT alumnus Josh Azouz (Buggy Baby) directed by Ned Bennett (An Octoroon, Pomona, Buggy Baby, Yen). The play was developed as part of NYT's 2017 summer Epic Stages course. Following its 2015 premiere, the REP also stages Writer's Guild Award winner Evan Placey's Consensual directed by Pia Furtado exploring teenage testosterone, teacher-pupil relationships and the age of consent in the UK. Victoria's Knickers and Consensual will this year take place at Soho Theatre (22 October - 10 November) following five successful seasons at the Ambassadors Theatre. The REP Company will then perform a gender fluid version of Macbeth, at the Garrick Theatre abridged by Moira Buffini and directed by Natasha Nixon, running from 20 November to 7 December. In January the REP will present a fourth production, directed by the newly appointed 2018 Bryan Forbes Bursary Director Meghan Doyle (co-Director of The Letter Room and recently Assistant Director for East is East - Northern Stage/Nottingham Playhouse and James and the Giant Peach - Northern Stage).

The NYT REP is inspired by the traditional repertory theatre model and was set up by Paul Roseby in 2012 to provide a much-needed free alternative to expensive formal training whilst embracing the best and diverse young talent to work with leading institutions culminating in three productions in London theatres. This year, 56% of the REP Company are actors of colour and over half come from low-income backgrounds. 25% of actors in this year's REP Company are Asian, two of whom are from East Asian backgrounds.

REP alumni include Sope Dirisu, recently seen in the Young Vic's The Brothers Size and in the title role of the RSC's Coriolanus for which he was nominated for the 2018 Ian Charleston Award alongside fellow REP alumna Hannah Morrish, nominated for her portrayal of Lavinia in the RSC's Titus Andronicus.

Meghan Doyle, 2018 Bryan Forbes Bursary Director, said: "As a working-class female director living in the North East you can imagine that opportunities to work in theatre are scarce, and so it is without exaggeration that this Bursary is life-changing for me."

The NYT's summer and autumn programme follows a successful spring season attracting large young audiences for James Fritz's The Fall and Dennis Kelly's DNA at Southwark Playhouse, and The Host by Nessah Muthy at St James's Church Piccadilly. In London, the 2018 summer programme at the Criterion Theatre sees the Facebook generation put the social network on trial in F-Off a new part-devised/ part-scripted play created by NYT's Artistic Director Paul Roseby, writer Tatty Hennessy and the NYT Company. A cast of 30 will interrogate the highs and lows of Facebook, acting as judge and jury as they delve into the darkest depths of social media (20-21 August). This will be followed by Function (17 September) a new play about female liberation by up-and-coming writer Sophie Ellerby whose debut play Three was commissioned by NYT at the Arcola Theatre last year and who has since had new work staged at the 2017 HighTide Festival in Walthamstow. It will be directed by Lynette Linton, who was nominated for Best Director at the Stage Debut Awards in 2017.

This year NYT have launched a new partnership with Diverse City, focussing on its programme to become more accessible to young disabled actors. The programme includes new initiatives, with every pupil at Highshore School, a special educational needs school in Southwark, taking part in a free NYT workshop. NYT Associate Artists will also receive free training from Diverse City on best inclusive practices.

On 10 and 11 August NYT members will take to the National Theatre's River Stage with the UK's leading professional circus company, Extraordinary Bodies, (a partnership between Diverse City and Cirque Bijou). Thirty NYT members and Associate Artists will perform with 15 young disabled actors from Highshore School as part of the Community Choir of Extraordinary Bodies' ground breaking new show, What Am I Worth?.

In 2019 the programme will see the NYT deliver relaxed accessible auditions with partners including Highshore School in Southwark and Diverse City in Dorset.

PLAYING UP - SOCIAL INCLUSION COURSE

NYT's social inclusion course 'Playing Up' returns in 2018 with the brand new play Tortoise by Mark Weinman, which delves into virtual reality and escapism and the pressures to succeed, at the Bunker Theatre from 11-14 July and directed by 2014 Bryan Forbes Assistant Directors Bursary recipient Matt Harrison (The Fall, Southwark Playhouse).

Now in its tenth year, the course, for 19 - 24 year olds not in full time education, employment or training, creates productions and commissions new work. It has an 85% success rate of moving young people into higher education, further training or employment.

Recent alumni of Playing Up include Ria Zmitrowicz, one of the leads in the BBC's Three Girls which won best mini-series at the 2018 BAFTAs, as well as Seraphina Beh who won Best Emerging Actress Award at the IARA Awards 2017.

This year, NYT expands nationwide with a series of new play commissions, free workshops and festival appearances. Having received its world premiere in 2016, followed by a critically acclaimed run at The Yard in 2017, Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist will be performed at Edinburgh Festival (14 - 26 August) following its recent appearance at the Bradford Literature Festival. Adapted by Stephanie Street (Sisters) and directed by Prasanna Puwanarajah (recently seen in Doctor Foster and Patrick Melrose) the production looks at the ironies of prejudice and representation in a post 9/11 New York.

NYT has also commissioned four acclaimed playwrights to develop work which reflects the issues facing different areas of the country. In Bradford, Asif Khan's new comedy Imaan Imran will follow the story of an actor-turned-Imaan; in Birmingham Rachel De-Lahay will develop The Hole, a new play about taboo; in Skelmersdale, Luke Barnes will write Lost Boys New Town a play about masculinity in post-industrial towns directed by Zoe Lafferty (The Host) and Nessah Muthy has written new play The Cure which explores issues around disability.

It is also announced today that Karen Turner will be NYT's new Executive Director. Karen was previously Managing Director of ICA, and is Vice Chair at Peckham Platform and a Senior Associate for Counterculture Partnership.

NYT's community work will also extend around the UK with free regular workshops and auditions in Kings Lyn in Norfolk, supported by the Big Lottery Fund.

As one of the pioneering organisations for youth arts globally, NYT will continue to expand its international outreach working with Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation (HKYAF) on the world premiere of Flood by Rory Malarkey, directed by NYT Associate Artist Joel Scott. NYT makes its Hong Kong debut with the dystopian work Flood, a NYT commission staged in a collaborative production with HKYAF and ArtisTree. A bold and visceral telling of what happens when land turns to water, the performance featuring young talent from HKYAF combines elements of contemporary physical theatre, music and voice, Cantonese song, and video imagery.

Performances will run from 20 to 22 September 2018.

NYT will also be launching a brand new Digital Storytelling course this summer, in collaboration with Central Saint Martins. The course, led by NYT Digital Associate Ben Carlin, will explore the ways in which virtual reality and digital technologies can be utilised for theatrical storytelling. The one-week London-based programme aims to discover and develop a new generation of digital theatrical talent.

The course is open to 15 to 25 year olds and runs from 27 August - 1 September.

A new production exploring the relationship between artificial and emotional intelligence will be developed with Digital Associate Ben Carlin and director Sean Hollands (DNA) at the MEGAVERSE XR Theatre Lab in Sheffield, as part of a R&D project exploring how to extend the corporeal immediacy and humanity of live performance through burgeoning immersive technology.

As well as the NYT Audition Access Fund supported by Hugh Bonneville, the last 12 months has seen major supporters the David Pearlman Charitable Foundation and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation increase their support. New major supporters from the last year include the Pureland Foundation who are supporting NYT's new writing for three years and the L&Q Foundation, a major new supporter of the Playing Up programme and its tour of Snakes and Ladders by Rebecca Manley to London schools. NYT's annual fundraising gala dinner Putting On the Blitz Kids in association with EON Productions will take place on Monday 26 November at Café De Paris. NYT's President Barbara Broccoli will chair the event committee.

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