National Youth Theatre’s Holloway Road HQ gets major refurb
- Credit: Jim Stephenson 2021
The National Youth Theatre’s HQ - where the likes of Daniel Craig and Dame Helen Mirren have trodden the boards - has undergone a major refurb.
The establishment in Holloway Road was set up in 1956 as the world’s first youth theatre company, and past membership also includes internationally acclaimed actors like Chiwitel Ejiofor and Zawe Ashton, and Little Britain comedy duo Matt Lucas and David Walliams even met there.
Now a major redevelopment has seen the addition of a 250-seat theatre to the building for the first time, transformed its visibility and accessibility from the street, and doubled its capacity for professional studio space.
Conceived as a national ‘creative production house’ for young people, DSDHA architects worked on the design with young people, who asked for a building "with fewer boundaries", to increase the opportunity for chance encounters they might have with professional creatives.
They also wanted to "retain the spirit and heritage of the old building" and "encourage spontaneous collaboration" with new informal social and workshop spaces.
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Staff offices have been relocated from the ground floor, where structural alterations to existing workshops have created of naturally-lit performance spaces, and new rehearsal studios have been built for members and to hire out commercially to generate revenue for the charity.
Acoustic enhancements and the digital upgrade required because of the coronavirus pandemic means high quality recordings can now be made of performances.
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NYT member Shakira Newton said: “The new spaces will be brilliant in terms of allowing more young people to stage their own work in the building for local audiences.
"Taking part in activity in the NYT building has been really important to my own career development and personal growth.
"Making the building bigger, more welcoming and accessible is a brilliant idea and will allow lots more people to engage with NYT which can only be a good thing.”
NYT artistic director and chief executive Paul Roseby OBE added: "We hope it will be a national and local beacon of accessibility and excellence, that inspires thousands of young people to engage with the arts for the first time and provides a much needed injection of optimism for our community."