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National Youth Theatre launches its 60th anniversary season (Photo: Helen Maybanks)

National Youth Theatre launches its 60th anniversary season (Photo: Helen Maybanks)

NYT stages Diamond West End season

First Published 20 April 2016, Last Updated 20 April 2016

A West End residency, two adaptations of Man Booker Prize shortlisted novels, seasons at the Arcola and Finborough Theatre, and a star-studded gala are all part of NYT’s 2016 season to celebrate the legendary company’s 60th anniversary.

The jam-packed year of work will culminate in a double bill at the West End’s Ambassadors Theatre, when talented young members of NYT will perform Owen Horsley’s 1950s take on Shakespeare’s classic Romeo And Juliet and the premiere of Gbolahan Obisesan’s adaptation of Pigeon English, Stephen Kelman’s powerful story inspired by the tragic killing of Damilola Taylor. The rep season will also include a one-week run of Dennis Kelly’s acclaimed DNA.

The West End season will play from 23 September to 25 November and feature a line-up of new faces to the stage who will make their professional debuts as part of NYT Rep, the theatre company’s free talent development initiative that enables young budding actors aged 25 and younger to work for nine months with leading institutions before appearing in the three month West End season.

The initiative was set up NYT’s Paul Roseby in 2012 as an alternative to an often expensive traditional drama school education. Commenting on the company’s return to the Ambassadors Theatre following 2015’s success and the busy year of celebrations ahead, 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.”

Other highlights from the 60th anniversary year’s programme include Aisha Zia and Monsay Whitney’s Playing Up double bill at the Arcola Theatre from 30 June to 2 July, and Stephanie Street’s new adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist to be directed by Prasanna Puwanarajah as part of NYT’s season of new writing at the Finborough Theatre from 7 to 27 August.

To further celebrate NYT’s 60 years of pioneering youth theatre and its glittering alumni that includes everyone from Dame Helen Mirren to Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, the company will stage a one-off anniversary gala on 18 September at the Shaftesbury Theatre. The Story Of Our Youth at 60 will feature performances by 60 members of the company alongside 40 renowned alumni.

Summing up the company’s hugely important role, one of the company’s newest patrons, Bond star Rosamund Pike, said: “The most fun I had during my teenage years was doing my NYT course, collaborating on productions and with the friends I made there… 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.”

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