National Youth Theatre awarded £2m from Mayor of London grant

The National Youth Theatre (NYT) has been awarded £2,000,000 from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund to undergo a major renovation to its Holloway Road building in North London. The radical development will enable NYT to double the number of young people they engage in the building through their annual programme which provides, free and affordable drama opportunities that champion diversity, creativity and routes into the creative industries.

The essential upgrade by award-winning architects DSDHA will secure and develop this thriving production hub for young people where creative on-stage, off-stage and digital talent of the future will receive world-class training and development opportunities that offer free and affordable alternative routes into the creative industries.

The building will include a new front pavilion, providing a fully accessible entrance from Holloway Road that is welcoming to all and including a new rehearsal studio and reception. A new 200-seat studio ‘workshop’ theatre, three rehearsal spaces and a co-working space will also be created within the existing building.

The new spaces will be made available to young people from Islington, London and nationwide to create new work together. School groups from around the UK will also be able to participate in regular skills workshops at the venue and see new NYT curriculum productions, which last year included Frankenstein, Great Expectations and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The new creative co-working space will provide opportunities for emerging playwrights, producers and theatre companies and embed NYT’s established Creative Leadership programme. The Creative Leadership programme provides free training and a structured route into paid leadership roles within the NYT and across the creative industries.

These new facilities will enable the expansion of NYT’s award-winning social inclusion programmes, Playing Up and Stepping Up continuing the organisation’s vital work with even more young people not in education, training or employment by providing opportunities to develop creative practice and gain accredited qualifications. Now in its 11th year, Playing Up has proved hugely successful with 85% of participants progressing into employment, further training or education opportunities. Applications for the 2020 Playing Up and Stepping Up cohorts are now open.

Building work will commence in May with the opening of the new building planned for late Spring 2021.

The worlds’ first youth theatre, over its 64 years NYT has worked with hundreds of thousands of young people, many of whom have passed through its doors in Holloway Road over the past 32 years, from alumni Daniel Craig who also helped to paint the walls when the organisation first moved into the building, to Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rosamund Pike and Matt Smith rehearsing their London stage debuts at the venue, to Matthew Warchus embarking on his first directorial role. Originally a 19th Century music hall designed by Scottish architect George Truefitt known as ‘Holloway Hall’, the building also hosted rehearsals for James Graham’s first paid commission Tory Boyz and the NYT Team Welcome Ceremonies at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Other famous alumni who rehearsed as teenagers at Holloway Road and have gone on to global success include Zawe Ashton, David Oyelowo, Orlando Bloom, Adeel Akhtar, David Walliams, Matt Lucas, Jessica Hynes, Gareth Pugh, Sope Dirisu and many more.

Paul Roseby OBE, National Youth Theatre CEO and Artistic Director, said: “Whilst 70 per cent of our membership and work will continue to be outside of London, we can’t be a truly national organisation without an aspirational local presence in our home borough of Islington, where, as child poverty rates show, the need is great. We’re grateful to all of our supporters for making possible this vital work with those who need it the most.”

Matt Smith, NYT Patron and Alumnus, star of Doctor Who and The Crown said: “The National Youth Theatre’s Holloway Road address has played a significant role in my London life. Not only did I rehearse for my London stage debut there, but I also made some everlasting friendships within its walls. It’s a home away from home where young people can be encouraged to grow and challenge themselves creatively. A revitalized Holloway Road home for the NYT will be a great asset to the area and a place where they can seek out further opportunities and continue to thrive in this great city.”

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