Welcome to our first ever Online National Theatre Connections Festival!

Hello and Welcome!

Each year the National Theatre commission 10 new plays for young people to perform as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival. Over 300 groups perform at partner theatres across the country and Royal & Derngate host the largest of these.

This year, as we cannot meet in person, we have asked those who were able to record their home performances to send them to us so that we can share them via our website and we have asked Jack Smith and Hannah Conway to provide a few workshops that you can watch and take part in at home.

We hope that you enjoy the workshops and the performances and join us with celebrating the hard work that these young people and their directors have put into creating their productions.

Stay Safe!

Erica Martin
Creative Learning Associate

Watch Erica’s message below:

Watch a message from one of the mentor directors for National Theatre Connections Festival, Lizzie Wiggs, below:


Get involved and get active with one of our workshops. These workshops are open to all as either a useful tool or a lesson in something new!

Physical Theatre

By Hannah Conway

Building A Character

By Hannah Conway


By Jack Smith


By Jack Smith

Watch performances

Sit down and watch groups of amazing young people perform one of 10 of the plays commissioned by the National Theatre.


A series of public apologies (in response to an unfortunate incident in the school lavatories)

by John Donnelly

Recommended for ages 14+.

This satirical play is heightened in its naturalism, in its seriousness, in its parody and piercing in its interrogation of how our attempts to define ourselves in public are shaped by the fear of saying the wrong thing.

Presented quite literally as a series of public apologies this play is spacious, flexible and welcoming of inventive and imaginative interpretation as each iteration spirals inevitably to its absurdist core. This is a play on words, on convention, on manners, on institutions, on order, online and on point.

Fabula Arts Youth Theatre recorded performance of A series of public apologies (in response to an unfortunate incident in the school lavatories) by John Donnelly – PART 1

Fabula Arts Youth Theatre recorded performance of A series of public apologies (in response to an unfortunate incident in the school lavatories) by John Donnelly – PART 2


by Alison Carr

Suitable for all ages.

Tuesday is light, playful and nuanced in tone. And a little bit sci-fi. The play centres on an ordinary Tuesday that suddenly turns very weird indeed when a tear rips across the sky over the school yard.

Not only that, but it starts sucking up pupils and staff while at the same time raining down a whole new set of people. But then, that’s what happens when parallel worlds collide! Confusion reigns as the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ try to work out what is going on. How are Ash and Magpie identical? Can Billy cope with having his sister back? Who is Franky?

Eventually, though, cracks appear between the two groups. As the air here starts to disagree with the ‘Them’, the race is on to try to get things back to how they were and safely return everyone to the Universe they came from. The play touches on themes of friendship, sibling love, family, identity, grief, bullying, loneliness and responsibility. And in the process we might just learn something about ourselves as well as some astronomical theories of the multiverse!

Headington School recorded performance of Tuesday by Alison Carr

The Company of Teens recorded performance of Tuesday by Alison Carr

The Changing Room

by Chris Bush

Suitable for all ages.

A lyrical piece about existing on the cusp of growing up. Are we teenagers? Are we children? What are we? It’s about bodies in flux and perspectives shifting; knowing change is coming but not what that change will look like.

Set in and around a swimming pool, The Changing Room follows a group of teens full of excitement, impatience and uncertainty, each with their own secret worries and desires for what comes next.

Rushden Academy Performing Arts performance of The Changing Room by Chris Bush

Wind / Rush Generation(s)

by Mojisola Adebayo

Most suitable for ages 15+.

This is a play about the British Isles, its past and its present. Set in a senior common room, in a prominent university, a group of 1st year undergraduates are troubled, not by the weight of their workload, but by a ‘noisy’ ghost.

So they do what any group self-respecting and intelligent university students would do in such a situation – they get out the Ouija Board to confront their spiritual irritant and lay them to rest – only to be confronted by the full weight of Britain’s colonial past – in all its gory glory.

However, if you think you know about British history, Empire, slavery, economics, racism and humanity, then this play might get you to think again. As the planch on the Ouija Board skates from letter to letter at an ever-increasing breakneck speed, the students are catapulted through space and time, witnessing the injustices, incongruities and inhumanity of the past.

This is a smorgasbord of genres and styles. Fusing naturalism, with physical theatre, spoken-word, absurdism, poetry and direct address – this is event-theatre that whips along with the grace, pace and hypnotic magnetism of a hurricane.

Royal & Derngate Young Company: Create performance of Wind / Rush Generations(s) by Mojisola Adebayo

Northampton College performance of Wind / Rush Generation(s) by Mojisola Adebayo

Witches Can’t Be Burned

by Silva Semerciyan

Recommended for ages 14+

If you keep on doing the same thing, over and over again, you’ll keep on getting the same results, time and time again. St. Paul’s have won the schools Playfest competition, three years in a row, by selecting recognised classics from the canon and producing them at an exceptionally high level, it’s a tried and trusted formula. With straight A’s student and drama freak, Anuka cast as Abigail Williams in The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the school seem to be well on course for another triumph, which would be a record. What could possibly go wrong?

However, as rehearsals gain momentum, Anuka has an epiphany. An experience resulting in her asking searching questions surrounding the text, the depiction and perception of female characters, the meaning of loyalty, and the values and traditions underpinning the very foundations of the school. Thus, the scene is set for a confrontation of epic proportions as Anuka seeks to break with tradition, before tradition breaks her and all young women like her and reality begins to take on the ominous hue of Miller’s fictionalised Salem.

Royal & Derngate Young Company: Connect recorded performance of Witches Can’t Be Burned by Silva Semerciyan

Wollaston School recorded performance of Witches Can’t Be Burned by Silva Semerciyan

Weavers Academy recorded performance of Witches Can’t Be Burned by Silva Semerciyan


by Frances Poet

Recommended for ages 14+

A group of teens gather to take their French exam but none of them will step into the exam hall. Because Kyle has had a vision and he’ll use anything, even miracles, to ensure his classmates accompany him. Together they have just seven days to save themselves, save the world and be the future. And Kyle is not the only one who has had the dream.

All across the globe, from Azerbaijan to Zambia, children are dreaming and urging their peers to follow them to the promised land. Who will follow? Who will lead? Who will make it?

All Stars Theatre Company recorded performance of Crusaders by Frances Poet

The IT

by Vivienne Franzmann

Suitable for all ages.

The IT is a play about a teenage girl who has something growing inside her. She doesn’t know what it is, but she knows it’s not a baby. It expands in her body. It starts in her stomach, but quickly outgrows that, until eventually it takes over the entirety of her insides. It has claws. She feels them. Does it have teeth, skin, and hair as well, or is that feathers, or spikes she can feel, butting up against her organs? What is it? It makes a noise, like a lizard or a snake. No one must know about it. She has to keep its presence, its possession of her, concealed. She pulls away from her friends. She refuses to speak in case The It is heard. Then the It tries to escape from her body. She can’t let that happen. She cuts an isolated weird figure at school, trying to live her life ‘normally; but battling to keep The It inside of her. But she can’t contain it forever, sooner or later something’s got to give…
Presented in the style of a direct to camera documentary, this is a darkly comic state of the nation play exploring adolescent mental health and the rage within, written very specifically for today.

Elms Studio Ensemble recorded performance of THE IT by  Vivienne Franzman

Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School recorded performance of THE IT by Vivienne Franzmann

Thank you for coming along to our Online National Theatre Connections Festival!

As always, please let us know your thoughts on our socials @royalderngate and let us get involved in the conversation.

We are looking forward to seeing many of you at the festival in 2021!