The 2019 National Youth Theatre (NYT) REP season will open with the London premiere of Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at Southwark Playhouse. 

Mumba Dodwell (Diversity School Initiative, Black Ice at Theatre 503) directs a bold new version of the classic tale through a fusion of music and ensemble storytelling. This NYT production puts young people at the forefront of a Dickensian world in a coming of age tale about aspiration, love and class.

Neil Bartlett was appointed Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith in London in 1994 and has since worked for the National, the Abbey in Dublin, Bristol Old Vic, Manchester Royal Exchange, Edinburgh International, Manchester International, Brighton, Aldeburgh and Holland Festivals, the Wellcome Foundation and Tate Britain. He is the author of Mr. Clive and Mr. which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award. His published adaptations and translations for the theatre also include Molière’s The Misanthrope (Goodman, Chicago); The School for Wives (Derby Playhouse), Racine’s Bérénice (National Theatre) and Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance (National Theatre).

Mumba Dodwell comes from an acting background and has recently turned her attention to directing. After completely the Young Vic Intro to Directing Course she wants to focus on challenge stereotypes, narrative and stories of those who are not usually seen in theatre. As well making sure when these stories are shared and are done with integrity and sensitivity. She is also director of the Diversity School initiative which is an organisation that start out by students wanting to hold drama schools accountable in being inclusive and supporting those from diverse backgrounds when in training. Mumba has recently directed Black Ice by Atlanta Green Theatre503 and a rehearsed reading of Tales From The Garden by Ameera Conrad at the Tristan Bates Theatre.

The REP season continues at Southwark Playhouse in a gothic double-bill featuring an Artificial Intelligence-inspired production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, adapted by Carl Miller and directed by Emily Gray, Artistic Director of Trestle Theatre. With themes of science and technology running throughout, Frankenstein will also see all 250 audience members given virtual reality headsets during the performance to experience the world through the eyes of the Monster. The production features gender blind casting with the lead roles Victoria (Dr Frankenstein) and Shell (Frankenstein’s Monster) both to be played by women.

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley Adapted by Carl Miller ;
Rehearsals ;
Directed by Emily Gray ;
National Youth Theatre ;
London, UK ;
16 August 2019 ;
Credit and copyright: Helen Murray

Carl Miller has been artistic director of the Royal Court Young People’s Theatre, an Associate Director of Birmingham Rep and Unicorn, and writer in Residence at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. He is also a member of Mercury Musical Developments’ Advanced Writers’ Lab. Previous writing credits for theatre include A Little Princess (The Other Palace), Emil and the Detective (National Theatre), The Three Musketeers (Unicorn) and an adaptation of Measure for Measure (RADA).

Emily Gray is Artistic Director of Trestle, the UKs leading mask and physical theatre company specialising in education & training. Emily runs a well-established MA & PGCE for drama teachers in partnership with Middlesex University and has become an expert in teaching mask theatre. Before joining Trestle in 2004, Emily was Artistic Director of TAG Theatre Company, Glasgow and from 1999 Associate Director at Unicorn Theatre.

Frankenstein: 25 October – 30 November

Great Expectations: 18 October – 28 November

Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD. Times: 7.30pm, 2.30pm matinees. Admission: £14 – £22. Phone: 0207 407 0234

Photo: Helen Murray