National Youth Theatre

During the Summer holidays I was Fortunate enough to partake in the N.Y.T., Summer course - I say 'fortunate' because it was for me a most interesting, tough and revealing month. First, however, I should like to clear up a major question - "What exactly is the National Youth Theatre?" Well, fundamentally it is a group of about three hundred youths between the ages of 15 and 21 who are out to have a good time as far as the world of drama is concerned. This good time comprises long, arduous hours of rehearsal, with few tea breaks, and endless repetitions of scenes. It is here that 'Patience is a Virtue' comes home to roost. This may seem disheartening, but one cannot help feeling a great sense of achievement when the curtain goes up revealing the finished product.

Many people - relations and school mates - on hearing that you area member of the N.Y.T. say "Oh, so you're going to become an actor!", but the truth is that the number of the members entering the profession is small (less than 5% of the total membership over the past ten years) for the N.Y.T. has always steadily refused to allow itself to be used as a professional nursery or stepping-stone to fame, but N.Y.T. productions are keenly watched by theatre and television directors and are regarded as providing a unique experience. The main purpose of the N.Y.T. is to offer young people a creative means of spending their leisure time and to encourage them to appreciate good theatre as actors or audience.

By stressing the value of teamwork it also gives those taking part in its productions a closer sense of community; and by giving them responsibility in every department of production - scenery building, stage management, business and publicity, administrative and clerical work - it provides them with an experience of sound practical value. The N.Y.T. strives to reach a standard which will be of value to school and youth club productions in general and its public performances are a test of its worth.

What is a "Youth Theatre type?" Well, it doesn't really matter to the Director whether your 'Hamlet' is the best in Harrow or whether you are able to hold audiences spellbound, so long as you can convince him in a short interview that you are keen and interested and have some kind of spark - a touch of fire, or feel or something - and if there is a hint of talent too, so much the better. Applications come from all over Britain and at Bristol, Sunderland and London interviews are held.

I can honestly say that my first year with the N. Y.T., as part of a dedicated community, has been stimulating in mind from having worked alongside ninety total strangers with fascinating ideas and expressions constantly in circulation. It is hard work but if you are interested, why not apply for an interview - you may find it more interesting than you think.

Albert Welling, 5X

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