National Student Drama Festival 2019 to take over Leicester

Groups of passionate young theatre makers are gearing up to take over Curve and venues across Leicester city as part of National Student Drama Festival (NSDF).

From Sat 13 Apr to Fri 19 Apr, over 400 people between the ages of 16 and 25 will come to the city to showcase their work, take part in workshops and classes and try something new. Curve, one of the UK’s leading producing theatres and a registered charity with a commitment to developing new artistic talent will lead the way as a festival host, with City Hall, Leicester Cathedral, Leicester Adult Education Centre, Mercure Grand Hotel, 2Funky Music Café and the Sue Townsend Theatre are also welcoming participants across the week.

The NSDF is an annual festival for young people who are passionate about making, watching and talking about theatre. This year NSDF has one of the best line ups in its 60 year history. Award-winning theatre company Slung Low will be in-residence for the entire festival. NSDF has assembled an incredible array of artists to lead masterclasses: Harriet Walter, Joan Iyiola, Simon Stephens, April De Angelis, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Jon Brittain, Roy Alexander Weise, James Phillips, Chris Thorpe, Lucy Ellinson, Ishy Din and Nikolai Foster, Artistic Director of Curve.

Alongside this, many of the UK’s most important theatre companies are coming to NSDF to offer workshops including the RSC, Young Vic, Royal Exchange, Manchester; Nottingham Playhouse, National Theatre of Wales, National Youth Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Good Chance, Soho Theatre, Sisters Grimm, Headlong, Rash Dash, Middle Child, Barrel Organ, Fuel, Paines Plough, Lung, New Diorama, Bristol Old Vic, Mountview and Equity.

Speaking about the festival, Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said:

“All of us at Curve strive to create theatre that is provocative, entertaining and inspiring. Young people, new work and collaboration sit at the heart of our organisation and we are proud Leicester is hosting the prestigious NSDF. We are thrilled to be working with this terrific team and would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of the students and practitioners from across the UK, who are our guests for what promises to be an incredible season.

“We are looking forward to seeing the work across the festival and know it will inspire our Leicester audiences and all who work in our theatre.”

Leicester City Council is supporting the National Student Drama Festival. Mike Dalzell, the council’s director of culture, tourism and inward investment said:

“Leicester is home to a thriving arts and cultural scene, and with one of the youngest populations in the UK is the perfect city to host this exciting festival.

“We are delighted that our city will be home for a week to some of the best up and coming talent in the theatre world, as well as the many leading directors, producers and artists who will be working with them. We hope they enjoy their experience of Curve and Leicester, and look forward to welcoming them on many return visits in the future.”

NSDF Guest Director James Phillips said:

“We’re thrilled to be bringing NSDF to Leicester, especially with one of the biggest and broadest workshop programmes in NSDF’s sixty-year history. It’s very exciting to be able to welcome artists like Harriet Walter, Joan Iyiola, April De Angelis, Timberlake Wertenbaker and so many others to the Festival this year, alongside the best student theatre in the UK. It’s going to be an incredible week.”

Selected shows to be performed at NSDF 19 include How To Save a Rock, a devised show with zero carbon footprint from Pigfoot Theatre in Oxford, Gary Owen’s Killology, a production by Durham University’s Fourth Wall Theatre and Things We Do Not Know, a piece of spoken-word theatre created by Process Theatre in association with Bristol-based charity One25.

Wayne Jackson, a member of Manchester’s Arden School of Theatre, will be presenting a Gogglebox inspired piece called Are You Still Watching? At the festival, in collaboration with Eggs Collective. He said:

“We are incredibly excited to perform at Curve for NSDF ’19; our show is vibrant and different and will fit really well within this innovative space.  Also, this is the first time that The Arden has been represented at NSDF and we are thrilled to be able to perform at such a beautiful theatre.”

For more information on NSDF 19, visit

To find out more about Curve, visit


The National Student Drama Festival appoints James Phillips as Guest Director for its 2019 Festival 

James Phillips
James Phillips

James Phillips

The Board of the National Student Drama Festival today announces that James Philips will be the Guest Director for the 2019 Festival. A director and writer with more than 15 years professional experience, Philips has been involved with NSDF as a selector, writer and director for eleven years.

Phillips said: “NSDF is a unique and precious thing, that has helped generations of talented young people of all backgrounds find their home within the arts. I’m thrilled to have been asked to help safeguard and expand this legacy. This year the Festival will be brave, bold and brilliant: bringing together some of the most exciting and accomplished professionals working in the British Theatre and a vibrant new generation of emerging young artists, critics, technicians and audience members.”

Michael Brazier, Director of NSDF since 2012, will be leaving the Company on 30 November 2018 to pursue new opportunities. Announcing his departure, Brazier said “Having led six Festivals I am delighted to be handing over to the brilliant James Phillips. It’s been a privilege working for NSDF and a joy to work with the many artists and technicians who have given so much time and skill to make the Festivals so successful. I have seen work of such quality by so many young people; their drive and ambition is very impressive. The Festival offers so much – the opportunity to learn, share work, and really discuss theatre, in a full on immersive week of creativity. I wish James, the Board and everyone connected to the Festival, all the very best for the future.”

Donna Munday, Chair of the Board of NSDF said “The Company wishes to thank Michael for his valuable contributions over the years and wishes him every success with the future.”

NSDF will shortly begin the search for the new Festival Director for the 2020 Festival and beyond, with a view to appoint by Spring 2019. Munday said ““The appointment of a new Director could not be at a more important time for the future of NSDF, which continues to bring young people together from across the UK in a celebration of all that theatre can be. There will be a rigorous process to ensure we find the best possible person to fuel the ambition of this extraordinary organisation, which has kick-started so many successful careers. To have James’ amazing talent, creativity and expertise at NSDF for the 2019 Festival while we undertake that search is an incredible opportunity for us. He is a supremely talented director, writer and producer, with a long association with NSDF. It’s a very exciting time for the company.”

Philips’ first play, The Rubenstein Kiss (which he also directed) won both the TMA Award for Best Play of the Year and the John Whiting Award, and is about to be seen again in a brand new revival at the Southwark Playhouse in March. His 4 part epic show, Flood, was the centrepiece of the UK’s 2017 Capital of Culture, and was voted by Guardian Newspaper Readers as one of the Top 10 UK shows of 2017. Hull ’17 won The Stage’s Award for ‘Producer of the Year’, and Flood’s BBC2 Drama won an RTS Award.

His play City Stories had a Residency at St James Theatre, London from 2014-17 and also transferred to 59East59 Theater in New York City, where it opened to terrific reviews in the New York Times and elsewhere. His play McQueen: or Lee and Beauty, about Alexander McQueen, broke box office records at St James Theatre in London and then transferred to the West End. His recent play Camelot: The Shining City – which was produced with a cast of 150 – was named as one of the top 5 UK Theatre Shows of 2015 by The Guardian Newspaper.

Phillips is Associate Artist of the Oxford Playhouse and an Associate of Wilton’s Music Hall.