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Free Course

Playing Up

Recruitment is now closed for 2023/24
Duration October 2023 - July 2024

What is the National Youth Theatre’s Playing Up Company Course?

Playing Up is a practical ten-month part-time drama training programme, offering young people aged 19 - 25 (up to 30 if learning disabled) who are not in Education Employment or Training (NEET) the opportunity to gain a Level 3 qualification in drama.

It is a Level 3 Access to Higher Education Diploma in Theatre Arts accredited through OCN London and is delivered in partnership with The JGA Group.

This course runs from October 2023– July 2024 at NYT’s building on 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 months

Applications are now closed for Playing Up 2023-2024

Places are available to both NYT members and non-members between the ages of 19 and 24 years old (or up to 30 if learning disabled.)

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.

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 access and support 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.


If you would like to request some additional support to complete this application form please email Libby Devereux on libby.devereux@nyt.org.uk

A member of the learning support team will be able to meet with you via ZOOM and work with you to complete the application form.

Special Thanks

National Youth Theatre would like to thank the following people and organisations for their support of Playing Up in the 2023/24 academic year: The JGA Group; The Leverhulme Trust; Greater London Authority’s New Deal for Young People, supported by the Mayor of London through the Propel collaboration; The Clothworkers’ Foundation; Jacqueline Worswick; The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation for The Wingate Tutors; and Jack Petchey Foundation.

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

Course Information

Am I eligible for a free place?

You are eligible for a FUNDED place if:

  • You have a London address.
  • And, you are 19 – 25 (you must be 19 years old on 31st August 2023). Applicants who are learning disabled can be aged 30 and under.
  • And, you are currently unemployed (or earning less than London Living Wage).
  • And, you do not yet have a Level 3 Qualification.

If you do not meet these criteria, you may be still eligible for place with an ADVANCED LEARNER LOAN (Student Loan)

This means you may be required to take out an Advanced Learner Loan (student loan) to cover the tuition fees of the course. Please see here for more information on Advance Learner Loans.

Please be aware that these courses are subject to funding and eligibility may change for the Academic Year 2023 – 2024.

What about student loans?

You are eligible for a STUDENT LOAN  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 2024). Applicants who are learning disabled can be aged 30 and under.


You do not yet hold a full level 3 qualification.

What is the audition process?

The audition process takes place in three steps:

1. Initial application - this will be an online form gathering your details, along with a section to allow us to hear why you are applying for the course. If an online application is inaccessible to you, please contact Libby Devereux at libby.devereux@nyt.org.uk and arrangements can be made for you to receive support with this form.

2. First Round Auditions – There will be a group warm-up, followed by an informal chat about yourself, and your interest in Playing Up. You will have the opportunity to perform during this step. This can be a monologue, a song, spoken word, self written work, or anything that allows us to see you perform.

3. Second Round Workshop Audition – If you are successful you will be invited to a second round audition at NYT Holloway Road, where the course takes place. This will include ensemble skills, lots of drama games, and an opportunity for us to see how you work in the rehearsal room


We will take time to review the applications after the second round audition. You will receive an email at the end of September 2024 to let you know if you have been offered a place. We will also let you know if you have made the reserve list for the course. For those that have not been offered a place, we will direct you to alternative programmes for you to participate in at NYT that we feel would benefit you.

We are aiming to bring together young people from a range of backgrounds and create a balanced cohort that will successfully learn and grow together during their time on the course.


For more information about Playing Up please get in touch with one of our Playing Up & Wellbeing Project Manager: Libby Devereux on libby.devereux@nyt.org.uk