Northampton and National Youth Theatre unite for training

Published: 9 December 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

The NYT’s Rep company coming together for the first week of rehearsals for its 2021 productions

Northampton’s Royal and Derngate and the National Youth Theatre have set up a partnership which will provide not only training for young people but has also led to the venues’ commissioning three new productions.

A training programme for up to 500 young people aged from 14 to 21 will be staged in summer 2021 on all three Royal and Derngate stages. Although the training takes place in Northampton, it is open to young adults of all backgrounds from across the UK.

The courses will include acting, stage management, lighting and sound. Participants will live at the University of Northampton’s Waterside campus.

The partnership will get off the ground in February 2021 with two productions performed by NYT’s REP Company. Tatty Hennessy will adapt George Orwell’s Animal Farm as an allegory for our own times while Miranda Cromwell will direct Shakespeare’s Othello, abridged by multi-disciplinary artist and dramatist Dzifa Benson. Othello will feature Francesca Amewudah-Rivers in the title role. The productions will play at Royal and Derngate from Friday 19 February until Saturday 13 March before touring nationally and streaming online.

Northamptonshire director Andy Routledge is leading the company in developing an original play about a unique period in Northampton’s history.

Applications to take part in the new summer vocational training can be made at the National Youth Theatre web site.

Royal and Derngate artistic director James Dacre commented, “working with the NYT as a freelance director before I joined Royal and Derngate, I experienced the passion, expertise and insight with which they champion every young artist to hone their craft and find their voice.

“Four years ago Royal and Derngate and the NYT partnered on a co-production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, enabling 30 young actors to make their professional debut, many of whom have returned to perform on our stages.

“That inspiring experience left us determined to partner on widening such training opportunities across all theatrical disciplines and so we’re thrilled to be able to announce an annual programme that will enable hundreds of young artists from the widest possible range of backgrounds to train at Royal and Derngate, learning from our teams and placing young people at the heart of all that we do.”

NYT artistic director and chief executive Paul Roseby OBE added, “we wanted to give more young people the chance to experience theatre on a grand scale outside London’s West End. Being part of this prestigious venue will inspire a new generation to become storytellers, creative leaders and champions of live performances in our local communities.”