Gary Lineker announced as Patron of NSDF as week-long event returns to Curve and Leicester in 2020

Gary Linekar

Leicester legend Gary Lineker has been announced as the Patron of next year’s NSDF (National Student Drama Festival), with the week-long event returning to his hometown 4 – 10 Apr 2020.

In partnership with Curve and Leicester City Council, the festival brings hundreds of young people who are passionate about theatre to Leicester to present their work, meet with peers and industry leading practitioners and to take part in workshops and classes. Last year’s festival saw Harriet Walter, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Simon Stephens and others give masterclasses, alongside many of the UK’s leading theatre companies.

One of the most prolific strikers in history, Gary Lineker began his footballing career at Leicester City and currently presents BBC One’s Match of the Day. Lineker is also a theatre fan and has previously called for more football followers to go to the theatre.

Speaking about becoming a Patron of NSDF, Lineker said:

“One of the greatest things about the NSDF is that it gives everyone the opportunity to participate in theatre, no matter who they are and that’s why I’m proud to represent the festival this year.

“I wanted to support the NSDF because I’m a lover of theatre and obviously I’m from Leicester. I think it’s good to encourage young people to go to the theatre because it’s so exciting to see – it’s like live sport!”

The NSDF was launched in 1956 and has since nurtured thousands of talented theatremakers including Ruth Wilson, Stephen Fry and Lena Headey with its annual festival.

During NSDF 2020, performances and workshops will take place in venues across Leicester, including Curve, the Sue Townsend Theatre, City Hall and in special new spaces. Resident companies will include Slung Low and Paines Plough.

James Phillips, Director of NSDF said:

“It’s brilliant to have Gary join us as Patron for NSDF 20. He’s a famous son of Leicester, a huge theatre lover and he’s uniquely placed to help us with our core aim: to make sure theatre is for everyone.

“All of us at NSDF are delighted to renew our partnership with Curve and Leicester City Council for the 2020 Festival.”

Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said:

“We are all proud to once again be working with the terrific NSDF team, bringing this inspirational and vital festival for young people to our city.

“We look forward to welcoming the hundreds of students, practitioners and theatre companies to Leicester and Curve next April for what is sure to be an incredible and thought-provoking week of theatre.

“With Gary Lineker joining as Patron for the festival the call from all of us at Curve and here in Leicester is loud and clear – whoever you are, theatre is for you.”

Leicester City Council is supporting the NSDF as it returns to the city. Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said:

“It will be fantastic to see NSDF back in the city in 2020. Leicester has a tremendous track record supporting theatre, and is a natural home for this week of events that celebrate and nurture new talent.”

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