Paul Roseby, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain (NYT) has today announced a new season of work for the company in celebration of their 60th anniversary year. Founded in 1956 the NYT is the pioneering force for youth theatre around the world and is recognised as the leading provider of free alternatives to formal theatre training, with alumni includingDame Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Chiwetel Ejiofor CBE and Sir Daniel Day Lewis. Since being founded the world’s leading youth arts charity has nurtured the talent of over 100,000 young people.
To mark the diamond season announcement NYT held the first of a series of alumni play readings of ‘Hidden Gems’ from the NYT Archive at the Hatton Garden vault, the site of the biggest heist in British legal history. The reading of Blue Moon Over Poplar by Rebecca Lenkiewicz featured Ashley Jensen, Sarah Solemani, Downton Abbey’s Daisy Lewis, Rachael Stirling, Grantchester’s Sam Frenchumand 2016 NYT REP member Shalisha James Davis. You can watch the reading here.
The anniversary programme for 2016 includes adaptations of two Man Booker shortlisted novels Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman and the world premiere stage adaptation of The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshin Hamid. Pigeon English, inspired by the tragic killing of Damilola Taylor, looks at the harsh reality of adulthood in modern Britain and The Reluctant Fundamentalist pulls apart the ironies of prejudice and representation in a post 9/11 New York and Pakistan. The company will present their first ever season at London’sFinborough Theatre comprising of three brand new commissions – two from Olivier Award-winning playwrights – as well as two new plays at the Arcola with the company’s social inclusion course ‘Playing Up’. Following the huge success of three previous REP seasons, the NYT is to return to the Ambassadors Theatre in September and alongside the West End premiere of Pigeon English will present William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet in post war London with Teddy girls and Teddy boys running amok. Outside of London, NYT will perform a newly adapted music-theatre version of The Tempest at Royal & Derngate in Northampton, make their premiere appearance at Hay Festival in Wales with Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife and nationally tour free productions of If Chloe Can and You Can.
Roseby also announced that 2016 will see former members Zawe Ashton, Rosamund Pike and Sarah Solemani become patrons of NYT and the company’s plans for a one-off anniversary gala ‘The Story of our Youth at 60’ in the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre on 18 September 2016. The performance, which will celebrate 60 years of the NYT, will star 60 members of the company alongside 40 renowned alumni. Other plans to mark the anniversary include two new commissions outside of theatre. Award-winning filmmakerMartin Stirling, known for his socially committed TV advertising such as Greenpeace’s LEGO: Everything is NOT Awesome, will create a filmed portrait of NYT which will be released later in the year. Alongside Stirling current NYT member and celebrated artist Conor Collins has been commissioned to create a series of portraits of NYT alumni. Collins exhibits primarily through social media and is renowned for his 2014 portrait of Tom Daley and 2016 portrait of Donald Trump, both of which were reprinted across the globe.
Roseby said: “Over the past 60 years NYT has been championing talent and opportunity for thousands of young people and is not just nationally but internationally renowned as a result. In this gem of a diamond year we are continuing to engage the most talented and most in need with our unique passion for being a force for good, a force for positive change and a tour de force on stage. Despite the Diamond year there is nothing ‘precious’ about our programming, with a bold taste for stories that shape our future and a team that will invent and inspire the next generation of excellence across all mediums of entertainment. Thank you to all that have gone before us to enable all who venture forward in our increasingly volatile but thrilling world.”
New Patron Rosamund Pike said: “Being part of the National Youth Theatre was life-changing. The most fun I had during my teenage years was doing my NYT course, collaborating on productions and with the friends I made there. I am honoured to become a Patron in their 60th year. I played Juliet at the National Youth Theatre In 1997 and I’m looking forward very much to seeing another NYT production of that play in the West End later this year. Now, more than ever, free opportunities like the National Youth Theatre provides for young people from all walks of life and right across the country are vital for cultivating the future of this country’s acting talent.”
The Reluctant Fundamentalist author Mohsin Hamid said: “I’m delighted that NYT are adapting this story for the stage. It’s wonderful to have such talented young people working on it, and it says something about our world that they were drawn to this story and found relevance in it now, nine years on from the book first being published.”
You can find out more about the whole season on the NYT site here.