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How it works

Production Shot of Variations - 2019 Connections Festival

How it works

Connections is the National Theatre’s nationwide youth theatre festival. Each year it offers a unique opportunity for youth theatres and school theatre groups to stage new plays written for young people by some of theatre’s most exciting playwrights, and to perform in leading theatres across the UK.

This year we will work with 300 youth theatres and schools to stage ten fantastic plays especially commissioned by the National Theatre for Connections. We’ll provide all the support you’ll need and you’ll have the chance to stage your play in one of our leading partner theatres across the UK.

Connections 2021 will involve talented young people from right across the UK, and inspire and entertain audiences with plays for and about young people that are current, challenging and resonant. This year we are adapting the Connections programme to be as flexible as possible, and to respond to the restrictions in place due to Covid-19.

Applications for Connections 2021 will open in September 2021 and close at midday on Friday 2nd October. 

Once we have approved your application we will let you know if you have a place by mid-October. 
When you are given a place we will send you details of how to sign up to the Connections Community, which is our online hub to keep in touch with you. This is where you can access the ten play scripts to begin reading.
Shortly afterwards you will also be issued with an invoice for your participation in Connections

We will ask you to choose two plays you would be happy to work on, and we will then confirm which you have been allocated. We ask for two choices because we need to ensure an even spread of plays at each Partner Theatre Festival.


We host a weekend of workshops for the 300 directors of each Connections shows. Over the course of the weekend everyone will spend time working with the writer of their play alongside the other directors who are doing that script. You will also have the chance to take part in other workshops and theatre skills sessions.

This year the Directors’ Weekend will be digitally-delivered, and run from Wednesday 11th to Sunday  15th November. The Directors' Weekend is a compulsory part of the Connections process, and we ask that everyone attends the writer's session on Saturday 14th November. You are welcome to come sign up for any of the additional workshops across the week, and can also bring additional directors subject to availably (an additional fee of £10 applies). 

This is when each director works with their company to rehearse their play ready for their Home Performances. At this time you will have contact with your fellow directors as well as the core Connections team via the Connections Community to ask any questions you have; share stories and problem solve.

As some of you are likely to be rehearsing digitally, the Connections 2021 Directors’ Weekend will include sessions on how to be creative when rehearsing in a digital environment.  

You can perform in your home venue up to five times. This could be your school, local theatre, church hall, institute etc. and is your chance to debut your Connections performance. A Connections Mentor Director will watch one of your performances; they will meet you and your company after the show to ask you about your experience and then write detailed development notes for your Partner Theatre transfer.

For Connections 2021, Mentor Directors will watch performance digitally (either via live streaming or by watching a recording), and then host a Q&A with the company via video chat. They will then provide detailed development notes. If for any reason you are not able to host a Home Performance, a Mentor Director will watch a rehearsal via video call and give you feedback on this.

All companies will transfer from their home venues to a partner theatre. This is an exciting opportunity for you to showcase your performance on a professional stage as part of a youth theatre festival with fellow Connections companies. You will be supported by the teams at the theatre as well as a Connections Mentor Director.

If your group is not able to travel to a Partner Theatre, there will be the option to be part of a digital festival, with a recording of your home performance hosted by a Partner Theatre, with online workshops to take part in.  

Ten companies will perform as part of the NT Connections festival to represent each of the 10 plays. This is an exciting celebration of all of the hard work which has taken place throughout the year.


Photograph by The Other Richard

Contact us

The Connections team is part of the NT Learning Department. 

Kirsten Adam

Arianne Welsh
Assistant Producer

Georgia Choudhuri 
Connections Assistant 

Ola Animashawun
NT Associate and Connections Dramaturg 

You can contact the Connections team on [email protected] 

Connections is supported by The Mohn Westlake Foundation, The Buffini Chao Foundation, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Delta Air Lines, Jacqueline and Richard Worswick, The Peter Cundill Foundation, Mactaggart Third Fund, The EBM Charitable Trust, Samantha and Richard Campbell-Breeden, Susan Miller and Byron Grote, The Broughton Family Charitable Trust and The Derrill Allatt Foundation

The National Theatre's Partner for Learning is Bank of America Merrill Lynch


Buffini Chao Foundation    Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation    

Delta Airlines