Playing Up

Applications 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 practical ten month part time 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.

Application will open again in January 2023 for October 2023.

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

Priority for places is given to those who are not in education, secure employment or training or those who have missed out on gaining level 3 qualifications at school or college. 

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, those who are refugees or asylum seekers with the right to study in the UK and those who are underrepresented in our industry including those who identify as neurodivergent, disabled or from the Global Majority.  

Am I eligible?

You are eligible if:

You are currently residing in the UK


You are 19 – 23 years old (you must be 19 years old or over or under 24 years old on 31st August 2022) 


You do not yet hold a full level 3 qualification OR you are unemployed.

You are eligible for a FUNDED place if you are: 

Currently residing in the UK


You are 19 – 23 years old (you must be 19 years old or over or under 24 years old on 31st August 2022) 


You do not yet hold a full level 3 qualification.

 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 from October 2021– July 2022 at NYT’s building in Holloway Road, London. 

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. It is a part time over 450 contact hours for 10 months.

How many people take part?

The Playing Up Company is made up of 24-26 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 membership 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 2021/22 academic year: The JGA Group, The Portal Trust, The Clothworkers’ Foundation, Jacqueline Worswick and Jack Petchey Foundation

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


  • For ages 19-24
  • 10 month part-time course
  • Taught at NYT building in Holloway Road, London
  • Leads to NYT membership for those who achieve the qualification
  • Funded places for those who do not hold a Level 3 qualification
  • Priority given to those who are not in education, employment or training or those who do not yet have a Level 3 qualification