National Youth Theatre
In the early 1960s, a budding young actor was desperate to get into theatre. But drama school was expensive, and her family simply didn’t have the money. The support of the National Youth Theatre - and the recognition that came from a lead role in Anthony and Cleopatra - was her way in. That young actor was Dame Helen Mirren, DBE.
The idea of the NYT as a force for good already runs deep within the organisation, and the influence of its first President Sir Ralph Richardson is never far from the surface. But there was a new hunger and a new determination to be part of something even bigger, and with even greater reach.
CEO and Artistic Director Paul Roseby had a clear ambition for the organisation. He wanted to elevate the brand to one that would stand for and lead in nurturing creative talent through free and affordable opportunities, empowering that talent to tell the truth, setting an example of what good looks like and making a positive impact on cultural evolution.
But how to take the next step? Where even to start? And where to find the space for uninterrupted, critical thinking? After a conversation about how we could best work together, Paul invited us to run a create balance session to help him develop his ideas further.
Over the course of a few hours we listened, explored, questioned and challenged. Who are we at the NYT? What do we do? Why do we do it? What matters most to the organisation? Where best to focus our energy? What should we leave behind? How can we better balance what we do with the real world around us and the wider artistic ecosystem?
It was a short but intense session. It helped Paul to unpack, examine and refine these critical elements. It led to a compelling vision of empowering young people to take centre stage in their lives. And it served as a platform for developing an equally powerful mission and strategy grounded in being a force for good, giving unique life-changing experiences, breaking down social and economic barriers and telling relevant challenging stories for our time.
In the words of a young NYT performer. “It’s such an honour and a privilege to be standing on this stage. It’s such a great feeling when someone who comes to see it says I want to be like you... and you’re thinking that’s what I said six months ago. Investing in someone’s dream. It’s indescribable.”
Where will her dream take her? How far will she go?
We look forward to the great actors and performers of tomorrow who will be inspired and nurtured by the NYT to follow in the footsteps of Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Ben Kingsley and countless others.
Good people doing good things. The National Youth Theatre stands tall among the very best.
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