Striking New Imagery Revealed For NEST An Epic New Site Specific Theatre Piece From National Youth Theatre And Leeds 2023
Striking new imagery has been released for NEST - a site specific new theatre piece featuring over 100 young people exploring climate change and climate migration from National Youth Theatre and LEEDS 2023.
The paths and ponds at St Aidan's RSPB Nature Park in East Leeds will welcome a new type of visitor as the wildlife haven becomes the stage for Nest; a striking new immersive theatre piece that explores themes of identity, existence and climate migration through the eyes of young people using live music, design, visual projections, movement and performance.
Co-produced and co-commissioned by LEEDS 2023 with the National Youth Theatre [NYT] Nest is a promenade piece that will see the audience experience take place across the nature park. Set in the year 2050 (the year by which The Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change, outlined as the deadline to reach net zero), the story follows 20-year-old Skylar who is attending a bird watching festival following the loss of their grandmother, who loved the natural world.
Nest features a huge cast of over 100 performers and 20 young people in backstage roles, including stage management and design, aged between 17-30 years, many of whom have been recruited from across Yorkshire in partnership with Leeds Playhouse through an open call, alongside existing members of the NYT. The audience will join Skylar as they navigate their way around the park, following the cast across different locations as the story unfolds. The cast will also feature participants from NYT’s Associate Company, Compass Collective, who assist unaccompanied minor refugees and young people seeking asylum to build resilience and integrate into the UK through theatre, music and film.
Nest was conceived in response to an NYT members survey that found the climate crisis was the issue that young people were most interested in exploring theatrically. The site-specific piece is written by Emma Nuttall (‘Emmerdale’, ‘The Kraken Wakes’) and will be directed by Chief Executive and Artistic Director of National Youth Theatre Paul Roseby (‘Town Planning in the Apocalypse’ by James Graham at the Duke of York’s 2023, ‘Handel & Hendrix’ at Somerset House 2022, ‘Class’ by SS Daley at London Fashion Week 2021).
This is the first time St Aidan's, a former opencast coal mine in east Leeds, has been the venue for a theatrical show. The 355-hectare park features 12km of trails as well as reedbeds, wetlands, meadows and woodland. The largest walking dragline excavator in western Europe, nicknamed ‘Oddball’ - a 1,000-tonne reminder of the mine - overlooks the park, all of which will be carefully considered throughout the week of performances which has been timed to avoid disturbance to wildlife and migration patterns.
Kully Thiarai, Creative Director and CEO of LEEDS 2023, said “Amplifying the voices and stories of young people has been one of the core ambitions of our Year of Culture. As we enter our third and final season for LEEDS 2023 Part 3: Dreaming it seems only right that one of our major pieces in this season is a brilliant collaboration with NYT and a diverse group of young people exploring some of the big issues of our time. Nest dramatically brings into sharp relief our relationship with nature and takes us into the future through beautiful imagery and storytelling as young people share their hopes and concerns over what, environmentally, lies ahead.”
Paul Roseby, NYT, said "Nest is the latest big show offering of NYTs art and activism programme unlocking facts and stories of our climate crisis by animating locations and unusual buildings in a dramatic way. Staged at St Aidan’s stunning bird sanctuary, both local, national and international performers take action with a world premiere production to lift our hearts, minds and give hope to a fragile earth we call home."
Nest is the culmination of NYT’s three-year art and activism programme, MELT, exploring themes and stories of the climate crisis.
Catherine Mitchell, Senior Relationship Manager, Arts Council England: “I’m delighted that we have supported Nest with an award of £100,000 through our National Lottery Project Grants programme. The project illustrates how cultural activity can explore serious issues such as climate change through immersive work performed in an unusual and inspiring setting. It’s also a great opportunity for young people to gain skills in backstage roles and for the audience to enjoy a truly spectacular creative experience.”
St Aidan's RSPB Nature Park
5-9 September 2023
Tickets £16 (£12 for local concessions)
Photos appear courtesy of Tom Arber
About National Youth Theatre
National Youth Theatre is a pioneering youth arts charity that nurtures creative expression, personal well-being and skills development, engaging thousands of young people aged 11- 25 around the UK every year. Established in 1956 as the world’s first youth theatre, NYT seeks out, supports and champions performers, theatre technicians and young creative leaders. NYT produces ambitious theatrical productions in local communities, on leading global stages and in unusual spaces across the UK and beyond, commissioning brave and relevant new writing and reinterpreting classic stories for our time. Recent work has ranged from London Fashion Week and Glasgow’s COP26 to libraries in Liverpool, an earth amphitheatre in Shropshire and theatres in cities around the UK and in the heart of London’s West End. In 2023, the redevelopment of NYT’s Creative Production House led by DSDHA won a RIBA London award in recognition of its environmentally conscious & inclusive design.
NYT’s free creative leadership, safeguarding, intersectionality and inclusive practice training underpin their work with hundreds of creative freelance professionals each year. This work will continue to grow in the coming year with major partnerships to grow and diversify the creative industries pipeline around the UK. NYT empowers young diverse voices and foregrounds the issues that matter most to young people. Through a range of free accredited creative employment programmes the NYT supports young people not in education or employment into further training and work in the creative industries. In the coming year this NYT’s programme will include a major partnership with Leeds 2023, the 10th anniversary REP season, a climate cabaret commissioned by The Space, a feature film of The Ancestors by Lakesha Arie-Angelo, directed by Jade Lewis, shot on location at Portchester Castle and productions at leading theatres around the UK and in the West End. NYT’s alumni include some of Britain’s most successful performers, technical theatre experts working on the world’s biggest events and stages and creative leaders at venues around the UK and beyond.
About LEEDS 2023
LEEDS 2023's ambition is to deliver a transformational year of creative experiences connecting and benefiting people now and into the future.
The planned programme will celebrate and transform the City’s identity locally, nationally and internationally – creating a lasting legacy of economic and social impact.
LEEDS 2023 is run by the Leeds Culture Trust, an independent charity set up in 2019 by Leeds City Council as part of its Culture Strategy and as a response to the cancellation of the UK's participation in the European Capital of Culture competition.
Leeds City Council recognises in a number of its key strategies the difference culture and creativity can make to a city and its citizens, and is the principal funder of LEEDS 2023.
LEEDS 2023 is supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players for making this possible.
Arts Council England
Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. From 2023 to 2026 we will invest over £467 million of public money from Government and an estimated £250 million from The National Lottery each year to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.
Projection Design by Pixel Lux Studio and led by Creative Director, Nina Dunn
RSPB (St. Aidan’s RSPB Nature Park)