The National Youth Theatre (NYT) has released production images for its West End production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Matt Harrison working in association with Kneehigh and abridged by Kate Kennedy, which runs at the Criterion Theatre until 17 January 2020, with its official press matinee taking place on 10 December, marking the final production in the 2019 NYT REP Season.
Shakespeare’s most popular comedy is inventively and playfully directed by former National Theatre New Works Resident Director Matt Harrison and will transport audiences to a seaside town amusement park set in ‘Athens on Sea’, heavily inspired by Whitby in North Yorkshire. The production also features gender blind casting including a female Bottom and a male Helena.
The 2019 company of 16 actors, aged 18-25, includes newcomers Guy Clark, Ella Dacres, Natalie Dunne, Jordan Ford Silver, Jamie Foulkes, Alice Franziska, Billy Hinchliff, Jadie Hobson, Bede Hodgkinson, Tiwalade Ibirogba Olulode, Julia Kass, Sarah Lusack, Jemima Mayala, Joseph Payne, Sonny Poon Tip, Raj Singh.
The NYT REP is a free initiative inspired by the traditional repertory theatre model and was set up by Paul Roseby in 2012 to provide a much-needed, alternative to expensive formal training whilst embracing young talent to work with leading institutions culminating in three productions in London theatres. With over 40% of the company being actors of colour, the NYT continues to demonstrate its commitment to discovering Britain’s best diverse young talent. In addition to the course being free, REP members receive bursaries to support their living costs and are assigned an industry mentor to support their creative and personal development.
Many REP alumni can now be seen across stage and screen including Seraphina Beh, who was cast in EastEnders immediately following her run and now stars in the new series of Top Boy; Sope Dirisu, currently playing Biff Loman in Death of A Salesman in the West End and previously seen in the title role of the RSC’s Coriolanus, Channel 4’s Humans, Sky Atlantic’s Gangs of London and recently named in this year’s h100 nominees, as was 2018 REP alumnus Isabel Adomakoh Young. Other alumni include Charles Furness who has just made his debut at the Donmar Warehouse in Appropriate, and Alice Vilanculo, seen in last year’s REP season and who received a Stage Edinburgh Award this summer for her performance in E8 at Pleasance Dome.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the third and final production in the 2019 NYT REP season following the London premiere of Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of Great Expectations and an Artificial Intelligence-inspired Frankenstein featuring VR headset technology which opened in October at Southwark Playhouse.
Matt Harrison is a director, devisor and theatre maker and was the recipient of the NYT REP Bryan Forbes Directors Bursary in 2014. Direction includes NYT’s The Fall (Southwark Playhouse), Snowbird (Tristan Bates Theatre), Tales from the Bad Years (Landor Theatre), Futures (Lost Theatre), Please Wait Patiently (National Theatre Temporary Theatre) and The Pirates of Penzance (Tabard Theatre – Nominated for ‘Best Musical Production’ & ‘Best Ensemble’ in the 2013 Off West End Awards). Assistant Director credits include Kneehigh award-winning The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk and the upcoming West End production of Lady Windermere’s Fan directed by Kathy Burke.
Kate Kennedy’s writing credits include Click and Scratch Me, I Bleed at the Ophelia Dalston. She has also written works for Monologue Slam UK at Stratford Theatre Royal and Nine Days They Fell for RADA. Performer credits include Channel 4’s Catastrophe and Twelfth Night (Royal Exchange) for which she was nominated for best supporting actress at the Manchester Theatre Awards.
The NYT REP is supported by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and Spotlight.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream run at the Criterion Theatre from 6 December 2019 – 17 January 2020.
Photo credit: Helen Murray