Playing Up


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

Playing Up is an accredited ten 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.

                    Apply here 

Applications for our 2021 – 2022 company will open in January 2021 

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.

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

19 – 23 years old (you must be 19 or over or under 24 on 31st August 2020) 
You do not yet hold a full level 3 qualification

Enrolment for those that are 24 years old on 31st August 2020 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?

The course focuses on performance skills such as movement, voice, devising, naturalism, scene study, improvisation and acting for screen. There is also an academic element to the course which allows you to explore theatre practitioners and undertake an extended research project. In the last term of the course the group will work towards a final production which is performed at a professional London venue. 

Throughout the course participants receive a travel bursary of up to £5 per day, free theatre tickets, pastoral and academic support and help applying for higher education.

When and where is the course?

This course runs part time over 450 contact hours for 10 months October 2020 – July 2021. 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, London Metropolitan University and Birmingham 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 Simone Waller, Playing Up Manager on or Emily Doherty on

National Youth Theatre would like to thank the following people and organisations for their support of Playing Up in the 2019/20 academic year: City and Islington College, European Union European Social Fund, L&Q Foundation, The Henry Smith Charity, Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, Jacqueline Worswick and Jack Petchey Foundation

We are delighted that the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation is supporting the David Wingate Fellowship that will provide bursaries to support students on our Playing Up course in 2019/20



  • For ages 19-24
  • 9 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 January 2021


Course Guide