Playing Up


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

Playing Up is an OCN Level 3 accredited 9 month drama training programme, offering young people aged 19 - 24 who are not in Education Employment or Training  the opportunity to gain an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Theatre Arts, which is equivalent to 2 ‘A’ Levels. 

Applications for 2019/20 are now closed

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 year olds (you must be 19 or over on 31st August 2019) 
  • You do not yet hold a full level 3 qualification

Priority is given to those who fulfil the criteria above. Enrolment for those that are 24 years old on 31st August 2019 or who already hold a full level 3 qualification is still possible. However students in this position would need to obtain a Student Finance Advance Learner Loan to undertake the course. This loan is wiped (Free) if the student goes on to HE and completes a higher level course in the future. For more information on whether this applies to you please contact

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.

What should I expect during the Playing Up Company Course?
The course focuses on performance skills such as movement, voice, devising, naturalism, character work and scene study. 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. 

When and where is the course?
This course runs part time over 450 contact hours for 9 months October 2019 – July 2020. The course builds in intensity starting with 2 days a week from October – May 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 9 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 (Maternity Cover) 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 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
  • Leads to NYT membership for those who achieve the qualification


Course Guide