The National Youth Theatre (NYT) have announced its full 2019 Summer and Autumn Season (which will see the most performances ever in a season), to feature an extended 7th annual REP season of three plays in London, brand new commissions staged in five cities across the UK, and festival appearances at the Edinburgh Fringe, Latitude and Bradford Literature Festival. This will be the first time the majority of an NYT season will be staged outside of London.
The season will consist of Luke Barnes’ exploration of toxic masculinity in ‘Lost Boys’, to tour Liverpool and community venues, Tatty Hennessy’s ‘F-Off’, a piece written in direct response to the ongoing Cambridge Analytica Scandal, to play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Asif Khan’s ‘Imaam Imraan’, exploring liberal Islam, at Bradford Literature Festival, and ‘The Astronaut Wives Club’ which, starring an all-female cast, will mark the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon, playing at Latitude Festival.
The NYT REP is inspired by the traditional repertory theatre model, and was set up by NYT Artistic Director Paul Roseby OBE 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.
The company returns with an extended gothic-inspired season at the Southwark Playhouse this autumn. Productions will include an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’, utilising artificial intelligence, and Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’, receiving its London premiere, directed by the 2019 Bryan Forbes Bursary Director. The final Rep production will be an adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, directed by Matt Garrison in association with Kneehigh, abridged by Kate Kennedy.
With themes of science and technology running throughout, the production of ‘Frankenstein‘ will be accompanied by a free Artificial Intelligence Digital Installation, created in partnership with immersive content studio Megaverse. The production is adapted by Carl Miller and directed by Emily Gray, Artistic Director of Trestle Theatre. ‘Frankenstein‘ will run at Southwark Playhouse from 26th October to 30th November 2019, with an official opening night on Wednesday 30th October.
‘Great Expectations‘ will run at Southwark Playhouse from 18th October to 19th November, with an official opening night of Monday 21st October.
‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘ will run at Southwark Playhouse from 6th December 2019 to 17th January 2020, with an official opening night on Tuesday 10th December.
This year all NYT REP productions will include a relaxed performance as part of the NYT’s wider Inclusion Programme, which aims to make the charity accessible to young people, artists and audiences with disabilities. All three productions are set-texts and with schools tickets from £15 and free Q&As and educational resource packs the NYT REP aims to offer affordable access to live theatre for school groups, against a backdrop of declining drama in schools. The 2019 Rep cast will be announced in due course, and 50% of the company of 16 are actors of colour, continuing the initiatives commitment to discovering Britain’s best diverse young talent.
New play ‘Lost Boys’ by award-winning playwright and NYT alumnus Luke Barnes (All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, Bottleneck), will explore the themes of identity, place and toxic masculinity in post-industrial towns.
Luke Barnes is an award-winning northern playwright from Formby, Liverpool. His first play ‘Chapel Street‘ was selected as one of the Top 5 New Plays Off West End in 2011 by The Stage, and he was shortlisted for an OffWestEnd.com Award for Most Promising Playwright.
Previously developed through workshops at Hope Theatre in 2018, the production will be directed by Zoe Lafferty (The Host, Queens of Syria), and will run at the Unity Theatre from 4th to 11th September followed by a tour of community venues around Merseyside.
After a successful premiere at the Criterion Theatre in 2018, ‘F-OFF’ will return, this time to be staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at Belly Button, Underbelly from 2nd to 25th August. This production sees the Facebook generation put the social network on trial. A cast of 12 interrogate the highs and lows of Facebook, acting as judge and jury as they delve into the darkest depths of social media. The play was a collaboration between Paul Roseby, Evening Standard’s “one to watch” writer, dramaturg Tatty Hennessy, and the NYT company.
Award-winning writer Asif Khan’s new comedy ‘Imaam Imraan’ follows the story of an actor-turned-Imaam. Asif was recognised in the ‘BBC New Talent Hotlist 2017 ‘ for new writers, won the Channel 4 Playwright’s Scheme, which celebrates emerging British playwriting talent, and is a member of the Tamasha Playwrights Group. Acting credits include ‘The Hypocrite’ and, recently, ‘Tartuffe’, for the RSC.
Directed by Iqbal Khan, this production will run from 1st to 4th July at Kala Sangam at Bradford Literature Festival.
NYT’s social inclusion course ‘Playing Up’ returns in 2019 with brand new play ‘Summer Fest’, a piece exploring the dramatic highs and lows of the highlight of the social calendar. The play is written by Yolanda Mercy, and will be directed by Soho Theatre Resident Director Lakesha Arie-Angelo. The production will run at the Bunker Theatre from 10th to 13th July.
‘Migration, My Nation’ is a new three-year national heritage project asking: ‘Where are we from?’. In its first year it will be directed by Sam Hardie, part-devised with NYT members at the Albany Theatre in Coventry in August, before travelling to other towns and cities in 2020 and 2021.
NYT are thrilled to have a dedicated performance space at Latitude this year to showcase members’ talent. In celebration of the upcoming 50-year anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing, ‘The Astronaut Wives Club’ by Al Smith and directed by Bea Holland will be performed in The Faraway Forest at Latitude Festival in Suffolk from 18th to 21st July.
This year also sees the launch of Spoken World, a new spoken word programme at NYT, bringing together emerging and established artists to explore the ways poetry, theatre and performance interact. Supporting the voices, writers, and spoken word artists in the NYT company – Spoken World will see workshops take place in various locations across the UK, and an environmentally-themed spoken word performance piece at Latitude Festival.
As part of NYT’s ongoing commitment to new voices, writers and artists including Nessah Muthy, Athena Stevens, Ann Akin, Iman Qureshi, Chris Bush and Stephanie Street are currently under commission to create new works exploring issues that will affect young people in 2020 and beyond. Three of these will explore the contested ground of disability, equality and inclusion, as part of NYT’s burgeoning commitment to expanding the range of voices on and off stage and on screen and film.
Regarding the new season, NYT Artistic Director Paul Roseby said, “From the ongoing Cambridge Analytica Scandal to the rise of Artificial Intelligence, this season will tackle urgent topical issues that will define the future for our young people for decades to come. We firmly believe that being National means being local and this year’s creative programme at venues and festivals around the UK reflects a shift to expand our reach, which has already seen us audition at 70 venues and schools around the UK this Spring. In London we are proud to have extended and expanded our free alternative routes into the industry, the NYT REP Company and Playing Up, offering diverse young talent unique opportunities to learn in front of an audience on leading stages”.