How youth theatre is a stepping stone to an adult stage career

Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre members in rehearsals
Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre members in rehearsals

For many actors, a career on the professional stage only comes about when school years are behind them and they have continued their education at drama college.

But the young members of the Royal & Derngate’s Youth Theatre have had plenty of opportunity to perform in a professional theatre setting and, on occasion, with professional actors.

They have had an eventful year so far, with the group becoming one of only 10 schools and youth theatre companies nationwide to appear at the National Theatre Connections Festival, in London, performing We Lost Elijah, by Ryan Craig.

On top of this, there has been an active schedule of Royal & Derngate theatre performances, including a re-imagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and, more recently, a production of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

Tomorrow, members will stage an evening called Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre’s Got Talent, to raise money for the group’s bursary scheme (for more details see the 
theatre pages).

The Youth Theatre, which offers different groups for youngsters aged from five to 21, currently has about 200 members.

Youth Theatre director, Natalie Diddams, said: “We have quite a big waiting list but it is just a case of being able to fit people in.

“I think it has become more popular, but extra-curricular activities have become more popular in general. I think it is wonderful for any young person because it is about confidence and I often see people start quiet and mousey and then, after a year, they have really grown.”

Youth Theatre member, Opie Charlett, aged 16, from Creaton, agreed that being part of the group had its benefits: “I joined to build confidence, get to know new people and for fun. It helps you to be more creative and gives you more confidence in learning lines. It obviously helps the memory.”

Another member, Danny Broxton, aged 16, from East Hunsbury, hopes that his time in Youth Theatre will help him to go on to become a professional actor. He said: “I joined because I liked the fact that, although it does seem like a group of children coming together, it is young adults who are treated like normal people.

“Eventually I would love to work on the Derngate stage or in the West End. I’m hoping to go to university in London to do dramatic arts.

“Working with people like Natalie, we get to find out more about opportunities to get into bigger shows.”