The National Youth Theatre (NYT) was established in 1956 as the first youth theatre company in the world.

Over the past 60 years, it has nurtured the talent of hundreds of thousands of young people and continues to be recognised as a world-leading youth arts organisation. Today the NYT discovers, develops and platforms exceptional performers and theatre technicians aged 14-25 from Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and prides itself on always being as ambitious as the young people it serves.

Among its acting alumnae, the NYT counts Dame Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Colin Firth, Rosamund Pike, Orlando Bloom, Catherine Tate, Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir Derek Jacobi, Timothy Dalton, Matt Lucas, Hugh Bonneville, Matt Smith and Zawe Ashton.

Former NYT members also include leaders in politics, business, law, the media and medicine, such as journalists Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Polly Toynbee, and Chris Bryant MP.

But the National Youth Theatre is not just about creating future stars. Its guiding principles are developing young people socially and creatively, teaching them to work as a team through an ensemble approach to theatre and creating positive social change.

It has successfully delivered ground-breaking cultural events. In 2008 NYT was the first UK theatre company to perform at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Beijing, staging a play about racism with a cast of young UK and Chinese actors against the backdrop of the controversy surrounding the Beijing Olympics. The company also represented Britain, welcoming athletes from all over the world to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

In 2016, the company’s 60th anniversary year, 10 new productions were staged, including a special sell-out gala at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre, featuring 40 notable alumni and a cast of 100 of Britain’s best young talent.

Photo credit: Helen Murray