Former student Sophie P tells us what it takes to win a place with the National Youth Theatre

Earlier this month former student, Sophie P, won a place with the prestigious National Youth Theatre, over 6000 people auditioned. NYT has a world renowned alumni including Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Sheeran and Ed Westwick, to name a few. Here Sophie tells us what it takes to become part of the NYT and gives some fantastic advice, no matter what career path you plan to take. 

When applying to a place in which you care about it can always seem like a daunting task. However, as long as you know that you’ve done the best you possibly can through sheer hard work and determination, nothing will stand in your way. This February, I auditioned to become a member of the National Youth Theatre. ‘NYT is a youth arts charity. They have been centre stage for over 60 years, inspiring people, and audiences alike in the importance of theatre. A few months later I found out that I was successful and was asked to join the company. I wanted to use this opportunity to share with you my experience of auditioning for a company such as NYT, as well as the path I’m now making for myself.

Theatre companies are always looking for unique individuals who will bring something new. This is why it is important to always stay true to yourself and to make sure you are getting involved in everything you possibly can. Before my audition I attended two separate one-week courses in London with NYT, covering audition and Shakespeare techniques. Not only did this broaden my knowledge it also showed my eagerness to be a part of the company. From partaking in the masterclasses that NYT offered it also helped me to gain insight into who NYT are, so I knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of. Different theatre companies always work off of different styles, therefore not every organisation will work for you. No matter where you may be looking at joining it is important to remember that opportunities are never going to come to you, you have to go out and seek them. The casting panel are always looking for people who are committed and outgoing. It is important that you watch as much theatre as possible and research heavily into the places that you are auditioning for. That way you are prepared for any questions about the organisation and you also gain your own personal judgement of the work they produce. It is okay to dislike certain elements, if anything it shows that you have your own unique voice and aren’t just following everyone else.

Once I knew that NYT was something I wanted to be part of, I applied for an audition on their website. I found the venue that was best suited to me and started all my preparations. The audition day consists of a 3-hour workshop in the morning where you participate in games and different activities with the rest of the auditionees. In my group there were about 30 of us. In the afternoon you then have to wait for your allocated one to one session slot. In this time, you will be able to talk with the panellist. They will ask questions about you, such as your hobbies and what you have to offer. Always remember that they want you to do well. The panel are rooting for you, they not there to try and catch you out, so stay confident and try your best. You will then have to perform a 2-minute monologue of your choice, the panellist may or may not redirect you. After your individual session you are free to go home and wait for the results day.  My biggest piece of advice for the audition day is to be open and willing to try anything. Whilst they’re looking for talented individuals, they also want to see how well you can take direction and work in an ensemble. NYT are ensemble lead so being a team player is of great importance. I also want you to know that this industry is extremely competitive, and rejection will become your best friend, it’s part of the job. However, without it you would never grow. You can’t let the rejection push you down, you must always use it as the next step on your ladder.

Following my future career with NYT I’m hoping to gain a place at drama school and secure a space with an agency. My main aim is to start creating and producing work, getting myself out there and known to the acting industry. I’m currently writing my own play and collection of monologues to keep creative during this lockdown period! At some point in the future I would love to take some of my work to the Edinburgh Fringe festival. So, my overall biggest piece of advice I can give, is to do things at your own pace and never compare yourself to those around you. Everyone will be taking different paths but that doesn’t mean you’ll end up at different destinations. Make sure that you want to go into the industry because you have a genuine love and passion for it. If you want to become an actor for the fame and money, you’re looking in the wrong place.