National Youth Theatre Presents First East End Season This Summer

The National Youth Theatre of Great Britain (NYT) this month launches their first ever East End season which will run throughout the summer, with 97 of Britain’s best young actors from all over the UK performing in five productions at three venues across East London. NYT’s social inclusion course, ‘Playing Up’ will run at the Arcola Theatre from 20 – 22 July, withThree, a new play by Sophie Ellerby. Following the sell-out success of their season of new writing at the Finborough Theatre last year, the organisation will present a politically charged programme of three plays at The Yard Theatre from 8 – 26 August, exploring the themes of cultural prejudice, women’s suffrage and the European refugee crisis. A 360 video will also be available at The Yard Theatre, which will feature real accounts of refugees in the UK and their stories. The East End season will culminate in a celebration of 50 years of NYT commissioning new writing for young people, with a restaging of their first commission Zigger Zagger at Wilton’s Music Hall from 6 – 9 September.

For the first time three plays will be staged at The Yard Theatre, which has recently been announced as a new Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), with two new productions, including one new play, plus the return of one of the successes from the Finborough season.

The stage adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel and Hollywood blockbuster film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist will return from 8 – 12 August, having received its world premiere in NYT’s season of new writing at the Finborough Theatre in 2016. The production looks at the ironies of prejudice and representation in a post 9/11 New York. It follows Pakistani native Changez’s disenchantment with the West and his journey back to Lahore. The production was adapted for stage by Stephanie Street (Sisters and founder member of The Act for Change Project) and will be directed by Prasanna Puwanarajah (Moth and Nightwatchman).

Following its world premiere at the Globe Theatre in 2013, NYT present the first play by Olivier Award-winning playwright Jessica Swale (Nell Gwynn) for which she was nominated for the Evening Standard’s Most Promising Playwright Award. Blue Stockings follows the battle at Girton College, Cambridge in 1896 to earn women the right to graduate. Challenging gendered views about women’s moral judgement and suitability to academia, the play has heavy parallels with the fight for female suffrage. The brand new production will run from 15 – 19 August and will be directed by Alice Knight, recipient of the 2014 Bryan Forbes Director Bursary Fund.

NYT will also stage its most recent commission, The Host by Nessah Muthy (recently listed by BBC as a one-to-watch), directed by Zoe Lafferty (Queens of Syria), which will run from 22 – 26 August. Commissioned in response to Brexit and the European refugee crisis, The Host is set on a South East London council estate and tells the story of Rabea, a Syrian refugee as he forges new relationships with the family who have taken him in, all the while battling the memories of his journey to England.

In a digital response to The Host, a 360 video will be available at The Yard Theatre featuring real accounts of refugees living in the UK. Furthering the themes raised in the play, the film will explore the responses and opinions of refugees based on their real life experiences, discovering their point of view around the society and country which they now find themselves in. The video has been specially commissioned for NYT and is being created by NYT alumni Ben Carlin and Sean Hollands (2016 Bryan Forbes Director), founders of Epiphany VR.

In the year that NYT marks 50 years of commissioning new work for young people, the East End season will culminate in a performance of their first commission in 1967, Peter Terson’s Zigger Zagger. The widely studied play is considered one of the definitive plays on football hooliganism and will receive a special anniversary production at Wilton’s Music Hall from 6 – 9 September. The production is set to have a cast of 50 under the direction of Juliet Knight (White Boy). An irreverent tale of tribalism, the play follows the story of Harry Philton, a passionate fan of the local football team, who struggles between the life of sex, violence and drink which football offers and, a stable future. Former alumni who performed in Zigger Zigger as NYT members include Tim McInnerny, Alex Jennings, Robert Glenister, Paula Wilcox and Clive Mantle.

In a new commission by Sophie Ellerby (HighTide First Commissions Writer and NYT REP Company 2013), participants of social inclusion course ‘Playing Up’ will star in Three at the Arcola Theatre from 20 – 22 July. Ellerby’s urban and domestic drama, directed by NYT Associate Director Anna Niland (Pigeon), follows three sisters who fight to keep track of reality as their world is turned upside down following their father’s release from prison. ‘Playing Up’, now in its eighth year, is a course for 19 – 24 year olds not in full time education, employment or training, creating productions and commissioning new work. It has an 85% success rate of moving young people into higher education, further training or employment, with recent alumni including Seraphina Beh, who after joining NYT’s 2016 REP Company was spotted for a role in EastEnders, which she recently starred in as Madison Drake, Gavi Singh Chera who’s currently appearing in Headlong Theatre’s Pygmalion and Ria Zmitrowicz recently seen in BBC drama Three Girls.

Following the East End season, autumn will see the REP company return to the Ambassadors Theatre for a fifth year from 26 September to 8 December with a brand new female-led adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel Jekyll and Hyde exploring women’s roles and rights in Victorian society. The production has been adapted by Evan Placey who wrote their 2015 hit Consensual and is directed by Roy Alexander Weise (JMK 2016 Winner), whose recent directing credits include the Young Vic’s acclaimed production The Mountaintop and The Ugly One at the Park Theatre. The second REP show, which marks an exciting new collaboration, will see NYT present Frantic Assembly’s award-winning modern-day Othello, adapted by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly. Under the direction of Frantic’s Associate Director Simon Pittman, their electrifying take on Shakespeare’s thriller is set in 21st century Britain and is celebrated for its physical and collaborative theatre, bringing the sex, violence and jealousy of the tragedy into the modern day. Also as part of the 2017 REP season Thomas Bailey, this year’s recipient of the Bryan Forbes Bursary will direct Mrs Dalloway in a new, free adaptation by Hal Coase. Tickets are now available for this fast-paced, dynamic staging of Virginia Woolf’s classic tale.

Inspired by the traditional repertory theatre model, the NYT REP was set up by Artistic Director Paul Roseby in 2012 to provide a much needed free alternative to expensive formal training. The course is a unique free talent development initiative allowing the best young talent to work for nine months with leading institutions culminating in three months of performances in the West End.


For more information and to purchase tickets visit    

Arcola Theatre, E8 3DL
20 – 22 July

The Yard Theatre, E9 5EN
8 – 26 August

The Reluctant Fundamentalist                               
8 – 12 August
Evening performances: 7.30pm 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 August
Matinee performances: 3pm 12 August

Blue Stockings
15 – 19 August
Evening performances: 7.30pm 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 August
Matinee performances 3pm 19 August

The Host
22 – 26 August
Evening performances 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 August
Matinee performances 3pm 26 August

Wilton’s Music Hall, E1 8JB
6-9 September
Evening performances 7.30pm 6,7,8,9 September
Matinee performances 2.30pm 7,8,9 September

Ambassadors Theatre, WC2H 9ND
26 September – 8 December

Jekyll and Hyde
In a new version by Evan Placey
Based on the novella by Robert Louis Stevenson
Directed by Roy Alexander Weise
Evening performances (7:30pm): 27 Sep, 2,4,11,17,31 Oct, 8,14,22,28 Nov, 6 Dec
Matinee performances (2:00pm): 2,4,11,17,27,31 Oct, 3,8,14,17, 22, 28 Nov, 1,6 Dec

National Youth Theatre present Frantic Assembly’s Othello
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Simon Pittman
Adapted by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly
Evening performances (7:30pm): 26 Sep, 3,10,24 Oct, 1,7,15,21,29 Nov, 5 Dec
Matinee performances (2:00pm): 29 Sep, 3,6,10,13,20,24 Oct, 1,7,10,15,21,24,29 Nov, 5,8 Dec

Mrs Dalloway
Based on the novel by Virginia Woolf
Adapted for stage by Hal Coase
Directed by Thomas Bailey
Matinee performances only (2.30pm): 27 Sep and 4 Dec

About Author /

Matthew has been writing for the past 5 years about music, sports and movies and has now finally got his chance to write about theatre. Having previously worked for the likes of Kerrang and Uncut, as well as previously having a radio show for 6 Towns, he has interviewed hundreds of bands throughout his career.

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