15 Years on the Stage | British Youth Music Theatre

15 Years on the Stage

When we started in 2003 (then Youth Music Theatre UK), none of us had any idea of the scope of work that we would be able to invent or the number of young people who might become involved. What we did know was that we wanted to create a vibrant arts organisation which would bravely tackle new work, combine different genres and introduce young people to the incredibly exhilarating experience of making new theatre. We didn’t want to retread all the old classic warhorses which populate the musical theatre landscape.

By offering young people the chance to develop new productions we wanted to give them a chance to help mold the work itself. To be a part of it. To know that they created and played the role for the very first time. That they were part of an ensemble which, if only for a few fleeting days, expressed the very essence of what it is to be an artist in front of an audience.

In striving for this over 15 years we, that is the creative staff and the young people, have made over 100 new productions, taken one of them to an Olivier Nomination in the West End, seen others published and licensed for further performance, launched a streaming service for new songs, and seen over 8,000 of our teenage performers experience the raw emotion of creating powerful new work on the stage.

We have also strived to be at the forefront of promoting British composers and writers, giving them platforms on which to try out new material and explore new ideas. Sometimes this has been through commissions, sometimes through devised or experimental work, but always with the aim of pushing boundaries and daring to dare, eschewing the dull and derivative.

The company has drawn young people from across the whole of the British Isles, from the furthest islands of the Outer Hebrides to the Kent coast. We have valued the strong and continuous involvement of young people (and creative staff) from Ireland, both North and South. We are open to young people from overseas and have welcomed performers and artists from Brussels, Hong Kong, Moscow and Serbia. We have been determined that we will not be London-centric and have been proud to perform in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Belfast, Armagh, Newcastle, Halifax, Plymouth, Norwich and many other cities, as well as, of course, London..

We have been supported in this by a small army of technicians, pastoral staff, interns, volunteers, trustees and patrons. We offer our thanks to them.

Fifteen years is roughly the ‘start-up’ period for a new charity, so we can now consider ourselves officially ‘grown up’ and can look forward to a period of stretching out into pastures new. We have a wonderful new home at the stunning new Mountview Academy in London. We have rebranded as British Youth Music Theatre to clarify our role in the market, reflect our position as promoters of British music and theatre,  and strengthen our appeal to overseas partners and young people. Our ambitions are to develop international collaborations while simultaneously increasing our reach within Britain and Ireland.

Essentially though, the heart of the company is the young people themselves, in all their energy and fearlessness and curiosity, in the skills they bring and in their raw natural talent, in their capacity for hard work (way beyond anything their teachers or parents might expect), in their determination and grit and questioning, in their relentless desire to express and perform and tell their story.

“Being BYMT's Creative Trainee is one of the most rewarding opportunities, allowing you to discover your strengths and find the right path of study or career for you.”

Morna Weir - Deputy Stage Manager