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National Youth Theatre's Playing Up Course to Perform Two World Premieres, July 10


Students on the National Youth Theatre's Playing Up Course will perform the world premieres of two new plays from award-winning playwrights Simon Vinnicombe and Rebecca Manley in the Arcola Tent from Thursday this week.

The double-bill continues the triumphant work of the NYT's Playing Up course, now in its fifth year. Not only does it produce outstanding theatre productions, and commission new work from exciting writers, but it also has an 85% success rate of moving young people into higher education, further training or employment.

In addition, 95% of this year's students have been offered places on higher or further education courses at institutions including Bristol Old Vic, Central School of Speech and Drama, East 15 and Rose Bruford. Other former members of Playing Up have gone on to roles in Youngers (E4), The Smoke (Sky1), The Musketeers (BBC) and at theatres such as West Yorkshire Playhouse, Soho Theatre and the Roundhouse.

Swipe and Liminal explore what it means to be human and to find genuine connections in an age of advancing technology. Performed by fearless young voices in a poignant and contemporary double-bill, this exploration of the challenges facing this generation is not to be missed.

Playing Up is a ten-month talent development programme, providing young people who are NEET with an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Theatre Arts, which is equivalent to 2 A Levels. This is a Level 3 qualification, accredited by Open College Network London.

The course focuses on performance skills such as movement, voice, devising, naturalism, character work and scene study. There is also an academic element which starts as reviewing plays and works towards structuring essays and a final essay or research project.

At the end of the course, students work with a professional creative team to present two productions at a London venue - this year, the Arcola Tent. In previous years, these have been the Unicorn, the Pleasance Theatre, Southwark Playhouse and Soho Theatre.

Heider Ali is a former Playing Up course member, and now a professional actor. After completing the course he successfully auditioned for NYT's award-winning REP Company:

"Before life at the NYT it was take every day as it comes. I went to college, didn't do well, got thrown out. Where I grew up there's gangs, violence and drugs, so I got involved in those kind of things and got arrested a few times. NYT opened my eyes, changed the way I see things, my mentality and my attitude as well. Where I was growing up people were saying you can't - NYT were saying you can. After last year's NYT REP showcase I was on tip toes for about two weeks and then I got cast in a drama on BBC Radio 4. It's brought me back to life"

National Youth Theatre support applications to UCAS for university and drama school. Many students have gone onto great places, including Rose Bruford College, RADA, Central School of Speech and Drama, University of Roehampton, London Metropolitan University and Birmingham City University.

NYT is proud to acknowledge funding for Playing Up in the 2013/14 academic year from the following organisations: City and Islington College, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Henry Smith Charity, Islington Consortium Creative Employment Programme (via London Borough of Islington), The Goldsmiths' Company.

The project is part-financed by the European Union. City and Islington College receives support from the European Social Fund.

More information at

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