Paul Roseby, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain (NYT) has today announced its new season of work. 2017 marks 50 years of the organisation commissioning new work for young people and in celebration 50 play readings are taking place in weird and wonderful locations across the UK today. Some notable writers who received early commissions from NYT, such as James Graham (This House, Finding Neverland), Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and The Cursed Child) and Zawe Ashton have plays being showcased.
The ‘50 Plays in a Day’, performed by NYT members and presented by young producers include, amongst others, James Graham’s political drama Tory Boyz at the Houses of Parliament with NYT alumni Ben Aldridge (Our Girl), Al Smith’s 1960s based The Astronaut Wives Club at The National Space Centre Leicester, The Host (pictured above), part of the NYT 2017 season, by Nessah Muthy in Calais at a Help Refugee Warehouse and The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy in Cannock Chase Forest, Staffordshire where Duffy is from. Other readings are taking place at Kenilworth Castle, Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library, Porthcawl Comprehensive School in Wales, Sheffield Lyceum Theatre, Wycombe Museum, Govanhill Baths in Glasgow, as well as a pub in Doncaster and a furniture shop in Finsbury Park.
The initiative marks the launch of NYT’s 2017 season, which will include their first ever ‘East End season’ at the Yard Theatre this summer after the sell-out success of their season of new writing at west London’s Finborough Theatre last year.
The East End Season will feature Olivier Award-winning Jessica Swale’s Blue Stockings, the premiere of The Host, a new play commission by NYT in response to 23 June 2016 and the European refugee crisis by Nessah Muthy and the return of Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. In October they will take a 50-strong cast to Wilton’s Music Hall to bring back Peter Terson’s iconic play about football hooliganism, Zigger Zagger, 50 years after it was first commissioned by them.
For autumn, following the success of four previous West End REP Seasons, the company will return to the Ambassadors Theatre for a fifth year in September with a brand new female-led adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde exploring women’s roles and rights in Victorian society, by Evan Placey who wrote their 2015 hit Consensual. The second REP show, which marks an exciting new collaboration, will see NYT present Frantic Assembly’s award-winning modern-day Othello under the direction of Frantic’s Associate Director Simon Pittman. NYT’s social inclusion course will also run at the Arcola Theatre with a new play by Sophie Ellerby.
It is also announced today that Barbara Broccoli will succeed Lord Waheed Alli as President of the National Youth Theatre. Broccoli is a one of the entertainment industry’s most successful female producers, perhaps best known for her work on the James Bond film franchise, including Skyfall and Spectre. Stage producer credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chariots of Fire, Once and The Kid Stays in the Picture.
Paul Roseby said:
“In 2017 we celebrate our growing diverse cohort by marking 50 years of new writing and I’m delighted to see our entrepreneurial young creatives simultaneously stage 50 plays in 50 locations across the UK today from our catalogue of past commissions. I’m also a champion of the need for theatre to have greater parity with sport in education so it’s timely that we bring the passion for the beautiful game and passion for theatre together once more in re-staging Zigger Zagger. With seven further productions and work at over 100 sites nationwide, including a record 44 audition centres, NYT remains a vital and relevant contributor to our cultural landscape. We will continue to strive to do more to make sure that talented young people can access our opportunities regardless of where they’re from or their background.”
Barbara Broccoli said: “I’m delighted to be working with the National Youth Theatre in developing and celebrating the most talented and diverse young people that the UK has to offer.”
Scott Graham, Frantic Assembly’s Artistic Director said: “We are thrilled to be collaborating with this brilliant, young ensemble, engaging again with the fire, rage and beauty at the heart of this classic text. We can’t wait to see this young company take hold of it and make it their own.”
NYT and leading theatre publisher Nick Hern Books also announce the upcoming publication of National Youth Theatre Monologues: Speeches for Young People, a new collection of audition speeches drawn from material produced by world-leading youth arts organisation the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. The book, edited by National Youth Theatre Associate Artist Michael Bryher and published on 6 July, contains over 75 monologues all taken from plays performed by the NYT, by writers such as Zawe Ashton, Moira Buffini, Carol Ann Duffy, Brian Friel, James Graham, Dennis Kelly, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Gbolahan Obisesan, Evan Placey and Jack Thorne. The collection also offers tips on performing the speeches from current and former NYT members, plus advice on preparing for auditions.