National Youth Theatre



  • (NYT) A theater organization founded in 1956 by the actor,director, and schoolmaster Michael Croft (1924 - 86). The NYTwas originally created to give school-age actors a chance to appearin professionally directed summer productions of Shakespeare; theseearly efforts were praised both at the Edinburgh Festival and in theWest End. In 1965 the NYT began to stage contemporary plays, beginningwith David Halliwell's Little Malcolm at the Royal Court Theatreand Peter Terson's Zigger-Zagger (1967), which addressed theproblem of soccer hooliganism.

    In 1971 the NYT moved from its original base in Dulwich tothe Shaw Theatre, London; in the same year it launched a professionalorganization, the Dolphin Company, which presented several works byTerson as well as plays by Arnold Wesker and Barrie Keeffe. The companywas temporarily disbanded after the NYT lost its Arts Council grantin 1981. Commercial sponsorship has since been found and the company,which remains amateur, makes regular provincial and foreign tours;in 1989 it performed T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedralat the Moscow Art Theatre. More recent productions include NicholasNickleby (2001), The Master and Margarita (2004), and a versionof The Merchant of Venice (2008) performed in Beijing as part ofthe Cultural Olympiad. Actors who began their careers with the NYT include Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren, and Ben Kingsley.