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How Connections works

Connections is the National Theatre’s nationwide youth theatre festival. Every year, it gives youth groups the opportunity to stage new plays written for young people.

In 2024, we are working with nearly 270 youth theatres and schools. They have a choice of ten fantastic plays written by some of the UK’s most exciting writers. We provide all the support groups need to stage their chosen play. They’ll also have the chance to perform in one of our leading partner theatres across the UK.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about taking part in Connections. If you still have a question, please email us.

All photographs by Jimmy Lee
Connections Festival 2023


Two people in headsets in conversation over a sound and lighting desk in the Dorfman Theatre, at the National Theatre
Applications for Connections 2025 are now open.
Once we have approved your application, we will let you know if you have a place over the summer holidays, usually July. If successful, we will share the ten play scripts so you can begin reading to select your play. Shortly afterwards, we will issue you an invoice for your participation in Connections.
We will ask you to choose two plays you would be happy to work with. We will then confirm your allocation.  We ask for two choices because we need to ensure an even spread of plays at each Partner Theatre Festival.

Fees and bursaries

A young person wearing a hat speaks into a microphone in front of hanging flags

Fees and Bursaries


The fee to take part in Connections 2025 is  £500. We want to ensure a wide range of young companies can take part in Connections, including those for whom the fee is a significant barrier to participation. Bursaries are available to support companies with rehearsals, production and transfer costs. Read on for more information.

For the fee you get:

  • Access to ten fantastic plays, commissioned by the National Theatre for Connections, by leading writers
  • A weekend of skills workshops, including time with the writer of your chosen play, facilitated by a leading director
  • A chance to perform your play up to five times at your home venue
  • To transfer your production to a leading Partner Theatre
  • Feedback from a Connections Mentor Director and development notes to help you develop your production for transfer
  • Ongoing support from the Connections team at the National Theatre throughout the year


A group of young people staring up into the sky

At National Theatre Connections we think long and hard about every play that we put into the portfolio.

Connections writers offer their plays as stories about humanity. We want the plays to be for everyone, and to tell stories about a wide range of experiences from around the world. We are proud to offer plays that challenge young people to experience life in someone else’s shoes. We encourage our playwrights to keep the casting options for their plays as open as possible.
For Connections plays, all parts can be played by D/deaf and disabled performers. Apart from where the playwright states otherwise, all roles can also be played by actors of any gender or ethnicity. If your group doesn’t exactly match the apparent casting requirements of a play in terms of race, ethnicity or gender, but you would like to produce it, we would encourage you to do so.
Any questions about casting should be checked with the Connections team. We are very happy to advise.
Where locations in plays are specified – rather than being concerned with accents, we recommend focusing your energies on finding the emotional truth of these settings.
For information on acquiring rights to the plays see the FAQs. 


A group of young people in a line at the front of a stage applauding and signalling to the audience

Is Connections a competition?
Connections is not a competition or an assessment of ability. Connections is a national showcase of the diverse groups taking part. Each year, one production of each play transfers to the NT Festival in London.  The Connections team, along with mentor directors and writers, select the companies that will perform at the NT Festival.

We look for clarity, audibility, story-telling, conviction, and energy in the cast and pace. We like to see productions that have observed and realised the writer’s intentions for the play, as the NT Festival is also a showcase for the plays themselves. We are also interested in how groups respond to feedback from the Connections Mentor Director when transferring their play to the Partner Theatre Festival.

Terms and conditions Connections 2025

Our funders

The Mohn Westlake Foundation supports nationwide Learning programmes for young people.

Nationwide learning is supported by Buffini Chao Foundation, Clore Duffield Foundation, Tim & Sarah Bunting, MFPA Trust Fund for the Training of Disabled Children in the Arts, Behrens Foundation, Cleopatra Trust, and The Andor Charitable Trust.

Connections is supported by The Mohn Westlake Foundation, Buffini Chao Foundation, The EBM Charitable Trust, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Katie Bradford Arts Trust, Susan Miller & Byron Grote, Mulberry Trust, Tuixen Foundation, The Peter Cundill Foundation, The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Woodward Charitable Trust and The John Thaw Foundation.

Find out more about supporting our work