NEWS: NYT adapts two Booker shortlisted novels, returns to West End for 60th

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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 including Dame 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 Frenchum and 2016 NYT REP member Shalisha James Davis.


The Reluctant Fundamentalist was also made into a 2012 film

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’s Finborough 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 filmmaker Martin 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.”


The National Youth Theatre and Royal & Derngate present

in a new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
directed by Caroline Steinbeis
23 June – 2 July 2016
Royal & Derngate, Northampton NN1 1DP
Press Night: 28 June 2016

In June the National Youth Theatre and Royal & Derngate will present The Tempest in a new music-theatre version by Oscar-winning writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz (The Invisible, Ida), directed by Caroline Steinbeis who has directed for the Royal Court, National Theatre and Manchester Royal Exchange. Shakespeare’s magical story of growing up and growing old is performed by an ensemble of 18 – 25 year olds.


Arcola Theatre
30 June – 02 July 2016

by Aisha Zia
directed by Toby Clarke

by Monsay Whitney
directed by Carolina Giammetta

Outside of the West End, NYT will stage two new plays starring social inclusion participants at the Arcola Theatre as part of ‘Playing Up’. The double-bill continues the work of the NYT’s ‘Playing Up’ course, now in its seventh year. The course, for 19 -25 year olds not in full time education, employment or training, creates productions and commissions new work. It has an 85% success rate of moving young people into higher education, further training or employment. The productions for 2016 will be Besieged by Aisha Zia (No Guts, No Heart, No Glory), directed by Playing Up Manager Toby Clarke and Ripple by Monsay Whitney (Hand to Mouth), directed by Carolina Giammetta (Swipe). They will explore mental health & isolation in contemporary society.


7 – 27 August 2016
Finborough Theatre
Press Nights: 10, 17, 24 August 2016

The Fall
by James Fritz
directed by Matthew Harrison

Bitches by Bola Agbaje
directed by Valentina Ceschi

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
by Mohsin Hamid
adapted for stage by Stephanie Street
directed by Prasanna Puwanarajah

For the first time in its history, the NYT will present a season of new writing at London’s Finborough Theatre in August. The season is to include world premiere productions from two Olivier Award-winning playwrights and the first ever stage production of Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Written by Olivier Award-nominated playwright James Fritz (Four Minutes Twelve Seconds, Ross & Rachel) The Fall will be directed by Bryan Forbes Director Bursary Recipient Matthew Harrison (NYT REP Bryan Forbes Bursary Director 2014). A satire about the property ladder from the perspective of 16-year-olds and 60-year-olds, the production follows a young person considering murdering their grandparents to inherit their property.

Bitches, is a two hander about running a YouTube channel by Olivier Award winning playwright Bola Agbaje (Gone Too Far!) directed by NYT REP 2013 Assistant Director Valentina Ceschi. Bitches follows teenage friends Funke and Cleo as they set up ‘Sons of Bitches’ with the hopes of getting rich quick but everything starts to fall apart when a meme of Funke’s mum goes viral.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist will be the first ever stage production of Mohsin Hamid’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel and Hollywood blockbuster film. The production looks at the ironies of prejudice and representation in a post 9/11 New York and Pakistan. It follows Pakistani native Changez’s disenchantment with the West and his journey back to Lahore. The production has been adapted for stage by Stephanie Street (Sisters) and will be directed by Prasanna Puwanarajah (Moth).

Stephen Kelman's novel was inspired by the real-life murder of Damilola Taylor

Stephen Kelman’s novel was inspired by the real-life murder of Damilola Taylor


23 September – 25 November 2016
Ambassadors Theatre
Press Nights: 27 & 28 September 2016

Romeo & Juliet
by William Shakespeare
abridged by Owen Horsley
directed by Kate Hewitt

Pigeon English
by Stephen Kelman
adapted by Gbolahan Obisesan
directed by Anna Niland

by Dennis Kelly

September will see the return of the NYT REP to the West End for an 9-week season. The NYT REP is a completely 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.  Inspired by traditional repertory training, it was set up by Artistic Director Paul Roseby in 2012 to provide a much needed free alternative to expensive formal training. Over 30,000 audience members, including over 300 school groups from around the UK, have attended since 2013 and this year the REP returns with a 55% BAME cast. REP company alumni include Sope Dirisu who is currently starring in BBC1’s Undercover, Kate Kennedy who will appear as Helena in the BBC’s Midsummer Night’s Dream later this year, Stuart Wilde currently playing Romeo at the Watermill Theatre, Zainab Hasan currently appearing in Boy at the Almeida and Luke Pierre and Conor Neaves from the 2015 REP who are both about to make their professional debuts at the National Theatre.

Cheek by Jowl’s Owen Horsley has abridged William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet for the NYT’s brand new production. Set in 1950s post war London, Teddy girls mix with teddy boys and as immigration booms, so does brutality, prejudice and a ruthless gang culture. The adaption is directed by Kate Hewitt (Far Away and associate director, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory the Musical).

The West End premiere of Pigeon English, Stephen Kelman’s moving 2011 Man Booker prize shortlisted novel has been adapted for stage for by award-winning playwright and Young VicGenesis Fellow Gbolahan Obisesan (Off the Page microplay, How Nigeria Became). The production follows 11-year-old Ghanaian school boy Harri who lives on an inner city London council estate. Inspired by one of the most powerful events in modern history, the tragic killing of Damilola Taylor, the production will look at the sometimes harsh reality of adulthood in modern day Britain. Directed by NYT Associate Director Anna Niland, Pigeon English was co-commissioned by NYT and Bristol Old Vic in 2013 and premiered at Bristol Old Vic before a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival.

The 2016 REP season will also include a one week run of Dennis Kelly’s DNA. The play follows a group of teenagers after a practical joke goes tragically wrong, pushing them towards the edges of society. The piece explores violence, guilt and solidarity.


If Chloe Can
by Karla Crome

You Can
by Luke Barnes

The NYT are to tour their free productions of You Can and If Chloe Can for school groups. The shows mark another strand of the National Youth Theatre’s work to improve education and opportunity in the arts and their commitment to nurturing young and diverse talent.

If Chloe Can was conceived by Esther McVey, former MP and Minister of State for Employment, who interviewed some of the world’s most successful women, many of whom have got to the top in the face of huge adversity. She published their life stories in a magazine to inspire young girls to achieve their potential. After the huge success of the project McVey launched You Can, a male version of the magazine. The NYT commissioned award winning-writer, star of Game of Thrones and NYT alumnus Luke Barnes and Karla Crome, of E4’s BAFTA winning Misfits to write  plays in response. If Chloe Can fosters active debate through a live voting system, encouraging the young audience to consider what choices the characters make throughout the piece. The event has now inspired over 10,000 young females in the UK.

The productions will tour to the Wirral, Dewsbury, Stockport, King’s Lynn and Norwich, dates are still to be announced.

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Press Releases on Twitter
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MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.

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