Playing Up

Applications are closed.


What is the National Youth Theatre’s Playing Up Company Course & How do I apply?

Playing Up is an Access to Higher Education Diploma accredited through OCN London. It is a practicalten month drama training programme, offering young people aged 19 - 24 who are not in Education Employment or Training (NEET) the opportunity to gain a Level 3 qualification in drama. Playing Up is delivered in partnership with The JGA Group.

      Applications are currently closed

Applications for 2021-22 are now closed, applications for 2022-23 will open in 2022. 

Places are available to both NYT members and non members between the ages of 19 and 24 years old.

The course is primarily for young people who are not in education, secure employment or training or those who have missed out on gaining level 3 qualifications at school or college. Priority for places is given to those who fulfil the criteria stated and we welcome applications from care leavers and those whose challenging circumstances may have prevented them from completing Secondary School or FE education. We welcome applications from those with SEND needs and those who are refugees or asylum seekers with the right to study in the UK. Playing Up is delivered in partnership with The JGA Group.

Am I eligible for a funded place?
Places are available to NYT members and non- members. You are eligible for a FUNDED place if you are: 

19 – 23 years old (you must be 19 or over or under 24 on 31st August 2021) 
You do not yet hold a full level 3 qualification

Enrolment for those that are 24 years old on 31st August 2021 or who already hold a full level 3 qualification (4 AS Levels, 3 A Levels, BTEC Nationals)  is still possible. However, students in this position would require a Student Finance Advance Learner Loan to fund their place and undertake the course. This loan may be wiped if the student goes on to Higher Education and completes a higher level, qualifying course in the future. Please see here for more information.


What should I expect during the Playing Up Company Course?

  • Audition Technique and Processes
  • Voice Technique
  • Improvisation
  • Non Text Based Performance (Movement)
  • Acting: Naturalism 
  • Acting: Scenes to Performance (Scene Study)
  • Performing Classical Texts
  • Final Production

There is also an academic element to the course which allows you prepare for further study and to explore theatre practitioners and undertake an extended research project.

  • Diversity in Performance
  • Theatre History 
  • Extended Project
  • Reading and Comprehension of Texts
  • Speaking and Listening 
  • Preparation for Higher Education
  • Note Taking and Note Making
  • Learning in a Group
  • Throughout the course participants receive a travel bursary of up to £5 per day and free theatre tickets. The course offers access to creative industry professionals, high levels of pastoral support and has a strong focus on progression routes for learners on completion.

When and where is the course?

This course runs part time over 450 contact hours for 10 months October 2021– July 2022. The course builds in intensity starting with 2 days a week from October – April and then moving to 3 days a week until June when the course runs full time for 5 weeks.

How many people take part?

The Playing Up Company is made up of 26 members.

What happens after the course?

We support applications to UCAS for University and Drama school and many of our past students have gone onto great places, including Rose Bruford Drama School, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, RADA, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Roehampton University, Oxford School of Drama, Mountview, LAMDA, Arts Ed, East 15 as well as universities such as UAL and Exeter University.

Following this unique 10 month programme Playing Up students that are not already NYT members, receive a place on one of the NYT summer courses, this results in NYT membership. Many graduates go on to pursue a career in theatre, and continue their training either in drama school, University or with the NYT REP Company or go onto gain employment. 

For more information about Playing Up please get in touch with one of our Playing Up Manager: Emily Doherty on  

National Youth Theatre would like to thank the following people and organisations for their support of Playing Up in the 2020/21 academic year: The JGA Group, The Portal Trust, The Ironmongers’ Company, The Clothworkers’ Foundation, The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, The Derek Hill Foundation, London Community Foundation, Charles S French Charitable Trust, Jacqueline Worswick, The Teale Charitable Foundation, Boris Karloff Charitable Foundation and Jack Petchey Foundation.

We would also like to thank our principal supporters Arts Council England.


  • For ages 19-24
  • 10 month free course
  • For young people not in education, employment or training or those who do not yet have a Level 3 qualification
  • Leads to NYT membership for those who achieve the qualification
  • Applications open Feb 2021


Course Guide