2016 marks 21 years of the National Theatre’s (NT) annual festival Connections – a programme of new plays for youth theatres and schools, which offers theatre-making opportunities for 13-19 year-olds across the country

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Flagship youth theatre festival celebrates its 21st anniversary with launch of new website to capture alumni stories. 

2016 marks 21 years of the National Theatre’s (NT) annual festival Connections – a programme of new plays for youth theatres and schools, which offers theatre-making opportunities for 13-19 year-olds across the country.

To celebrate the anniversary, the NT is looking to connect with former Connections participants to share their experiences of the festival on a new website: www.yourconnections.nationaltheatre.org.uk. Alumni and previous audiences are being asked to submit their own personal stories, photos, films and anecdotes of their experiences with the festival. The submissions will be celebrated and shared on the new website and captured for a new digital Connections archive at the NT.
Since its inception, Connections has acted as a platform for young people interested in theatre and provided first-hand opportunities to learn about all aspects of theatre-making. Many industry professionals have taken part in Connections since it began in 1995 and previous participants include: Keira Knightley, who appeared in the Heatham House Youth Theatre production of After Juliet David Oyelowo, John Boyega and Aisling Loftus. Some of the UK’s leading playwrights have written for the festival including: Alan Ayckbourn, Moira Buffini, Anthony Horowitz, James Graham and Abi Morgan.
Rufus Norris, the National Theatre’s Artistic Director said: ‘‘Twenty-one years ago the National Theatre launched Connections in response to a demand for relevant, new plays for young people to perform. Two decades later, it remains at the heart of the National Theatre’s work for young people and one of the most exciting and important projects we have developed. .  It’s vital that young people, wherever they are in the country and whatever their future path, have the chance to be involved in theatre and Connections is one of the ways the National Theatre can help make that happen.’


Alice King-Farlow, Director of Learning at the National Theatre, said: “Connections has transformed the landscape for youth theatre over 21 years, creating an extraordinary body of work that includes more than 150 specially commissioned scripts for young performers developed by leading dramatists. Teenagers get the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of theatre-making, from set design to script writing and we are thrilled that 60,000 young people have taken part in Connections, with additional audiences of 600,000 from across the UK. We look forward to hearing their stories and learning how theatre craft has helped transform their lives.”

  1. Each year, Connections offers unique opportunities for youth theatres and school drama groups across the UK to-stage plays written for young people aged 13-19. The work developed by some of the UK’s most exciting playwrights, will be performed in leading theatres across the country.  Connections also presents the chance of performing at the National Theatre itself.
  2. To celebrate the 21st anniversary 450 youth theatre companies and 10,000 young people will take part in Connections, performing twelve plays drawn from the 150 works written by leading playwrights since the festival began in 1995.
  3. Rufus Norris discusses Connections and the 21st anniversary here:


Learning at the NT

Learning is central to the NT’s vision for the future. Over the last five years the relationship with the work on the NT’s stages and with the NT’s staff and artists has been transformed, and we have extended our reach to participants of all ages. In 2014 we opened the Clore Learning Centre, the first dedicated education spaces at the National Theatre, adjacent and with regular access to the Dorfman (formerly the Cottesloe) Theatre and directly linked to the NT’s backstage working spaces. With National Theatre Live, our digital learning resources, touring productions and programmes such as Connections and National Theatre on Demand in Schools, NT Learning reaches across the UK and beyond.

The Royal National Theatre
Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PX
Telephone numbers: BOX OFFICE +44 (0) 20 7452 3000

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