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National Youth Theatre Announces 10 New Associate Companies

Posted 15 Jul 2023 by Joe Duggan

National Youth Theatre has announced the appointment of 10 new Associate Companies, which it will collaborate with over the next two years to champion their work and create more opportunities for the charity’s national network of 14,000 young creative people. The companies all pitched their vision of being an Associate and what it could mean for them and will access mentoring, costume, props and equipment and space in NYT’s Creative Production House, which recently won the Architects' Journal’s Retrofit Award for access and environmental improvements after a major redevelopment enabling the charity to work with twice as many young people in the building. Following an open call, the collective have been assembled in response to the scarcity of affordable space and stages for companies in the early stages of their development to share their work and the broader challenges faced by young people entering the sector. 

The new companies will collaborate with NYT to reach communities of young people across the UK lacking access to the arts and include specialists whose work focuses on engaging young refugees and asylum seekers, young disabled and neurodiverse people and young gamers. The new Associate Companies are: BLINK Dance Theatre, Compass Collective, Dorsetborn & OffPiste, Doorstep Arts, Itch + Scratch, THE LAB, Megaverse, OPIA Collective, Piece of Cake Theatre Company and Project Phakama. They join NYT’s existing Associate Company The PappyShow, who recently completed a critically acclaimed run of BOYS at London’s Barbican and have enriched NYT’s work across courses, productions and training, most recently including leading the movement on the NYT Big Weekender at London’s Royal Court Theatre featuring 250+ young performers.

Associate Companies will share new work in the NYT’s building, which includes the charity’s first dedicated performance space, The Workshop Theatre. In 2021 the Workshop Theatre hosted the NYT REP Company’s critically acclaimed national tour and work by external companies including Company Three’s When This Is Over, OPIA Collective who shared Lucy Kirkwood’s MARYLAND with a 30-strong female cast and Megaverse with a preview of a VR adaptation of Rory Mullarkey’s FLOOD. The charity’s rehearsal spaces are also regularly hired by leading West End and touring productions, which have recently included Grease The Musical directed by NYT alumnus Nikolai Foster. Professionals work alongside the next generation in the building and skills workshops and work experience opportunities are offered through a social-value contract model.

Paul Roseby OBE, NYT CEO & Artistic Director said: “Young people are four times more likely to be unemployed, have been amongst the hardest hit by COVID cancellations and are facing a real lack of access to affordable stages to share their early work on. Collaboration is at the heart of our practice and building on the success of our ongoing collaboration with trailblazers The PappyShow and the award-winning redevelopment of our HQ, we will work to address these challenges with ten new dynamic associate companies. Connecting coastal, rural and city-based companies through this collective in support of those lacking access, we will provide new pathways for young talent, champion new stories for national audiences and learn as much from them as they do from us.”

Kane Husbands Artistic Director of The PappyShow said: “National Youth Theatre has been the catalyst of my work and the birthplace of The PappyShow - so it feels really special to be welcoming all of you; the next generation of companies like ours that will be born from support and community like this. A model of best practice - not only in what we make - but in how we work. Congratulations.”

The new NYT Associate Companies commented:

“National Youth Theatre’s commitment to inclusive practice aligns deeply with our ethos and we are excited for this new partnership and mutual learning and skills sharing that it will foster. We are looking forward to being part of a thriving community of people dedicated to tacking elitism and ableism in the arts. Our work with NYT will focus on providing leadership opportunities and employment for learning disabled young artists to enrich the theatre sector.” BLINK Dance Theatre, a neurodiverse group of 5 Artists who perform and facilitate together.

Compass is coming home! This will mean clear pathways for young refugees and people seeking asylum to access and engage with the company that Compass was born from. It will offer a bigger stage for the diverse new voices of tomorrow to have their chance in the spotlight. Compass Collective, who deliver theatre, music and film projects and arts-led professional development programmes in Leeds, Birmingham, London and beyond to help young refugees and asylum seekers build resilience and integrate into the UK.

This partnership represents the perfect next step for our work finding new and alternative pathways into the creative industries for young people in Torbay. It will afford access to further opportunities, expertise and resources that will help both our young people and our team continue to learn, grow and give our all to our local arts scene.” Doorstep Arts - a non-profit arts education organisation based in Torbay who run drama groups across Torbay at key doorstep sites – youth clubs, church halls and schools.

This opportunity will be transformative not only for us, but for young artists around Dorset. We look forward to developing professional pathways for young people from Bournemouth, Bridport, Dorchester, Poole, Sherborne, Swanage, Wimborne, Weymouth and other places where a career in the arts seems like a distant and unlikely dream.” Dorsetborn & OffPiste are two young companies founded by NYT members working collaboratively in Dorset

Our team met as members of NYT and it’s wonderful to be back where our roots began. We’re so excited to be making more fun and innovative work, in our Itch + Scratch style. Collaboration is paramount to us and we can’t wait to team up with NYT to produce creative, development and training opportunities across the whole membership.” Itch + Scratch - A new writing theatre company focused on working with creative artists of all disciplines, producing exciting new work for the stage.

THE LAB is for multi-disciplinary Artists to experiment, research and create new work and approaches. Intergenerational and collaborative in leadership, we are process led; with a focus on deep enquiry and play.” THE LAB - an experimental creative collective of NYT Associate Artists, industry makers and NYT Alumni from the charity’s flagship free alternatives to formal training the NYT REP and Playing Up, focused on artist development and shared practice.

The line between theatre, gaming and film is becoming increasingly blurred and it's important that young creatives are exposed to these tools to know how to creatively leverage them for their own artistic practice. We're so excited to be working with NYT to create some next generation experiences that are more interactive and immersive than ever before! Megaverse - an award-winning Sheffield-based Digital studio co-founded by NYT Alumnus Ben Carlin.

“It feels incredibly special to be continuing our journey with NYT, since it’s an organisation where we began our artistic journeys. Our aim is to establish ourselves as an exciting multidisciplinary company with a finger on the pulse of under-represented stories.” OPIA Collective is led by 2021 NYT REP Company Bryan Forbes Bursary Director Masha Kevinovna and Associate Director Cara Evans, Designer & NYT alumna.  

Piece of Cake aims to be at the forefront of uplifting the voices and stories of artists of the Global Majority creatives in the performing arts industry. The opportunity that NYT have given the company is a way to expand its platform on a bigger scale. Piece of Cake Theatre Company is led by NYT alumna and curator of NYT’s showcase for Black young talent RUSH Shakira Newton and Ibraheem Toure.  

We now wish to support projects and initiatives in a more impactful way, and the new Associateship with NYT would hugely benefit the team, artists, young people and communities. Being an Associate company with NYT will support us in fully taking those new directions, offering training, support in resources, expertise and collaboration. Within the established platforms NYT can offer, Phakama’s wonderful projects, outreach methodologies and initiatives can reach wider audiences and get the exposure they truly deserve.” Project Phakama, a charity committed to cultural exchange and the celebration of shared experiences.

About National Youth Theatre

National Youth Theatre is a pioneering youth arts charity which has nurtured the talent of hundreds of thousands of young creative people over the past 66 years. It has an active creative network of over 14,000 young people UK-wide and regularly produces critically acclaimed work on screen, on leading stages and at iconic sites at home and abroad.

In 2022 the charity will launch its 10th anniversary NYT REP Company, an award-winning free alternative to formal training, continue its work in non-mainstream schools through its national Inclusive Practice Collective and continue to support and nurture 5,000 young creative people through its short courses and long-term employment programmes. NYT is a major partner on LEEDS 2023. Its alumni includes some of the world’s most celebrated acting talent, award-winning backstage talent working globally at leading theatres, stadiums and events and cultural leaders around the world.

The charity recently won the 2022 Architects Journal Retrofit Award for the major redevelopment of its Creative Production House led by DSDHA, which is a leading central London rehearsal space regularly hired by large West End production.

National Youth Theatre are proud to be part of Arts Council England's National Portfolio. 

For more, see https://www.nyt.org.uk/ .

About The PappyShow

The PappyShow are a playful and physical ensemble theatre company who create distinctive and critically acclaimed productions, lead inclusive workshops rooted in kindness, and work tirelessly to develop the industry we move in through connection and uplifting. The PappyShow was formed in 2013 by Kane Husbands to bring people together to move, dance, create moments of radical joy, share stories and take time just to PLAY! That is still their mission but their identity has become clearer. They exist as a social enterprise – working across performance and platforming the marginalised identities that we believe society could do better with. The PappyShow is run by a core team of 10 friends - find out more about them here. They recently worked with 250+ NYT members at the Royal Court Theatre as part of their Big Weekender.