About Us

Our mission is to empower and inspire young talent and ambition, to teach skills, to help launch careers and build the audience of tomorrow.

The National Student Drama Festival was founded in 1956 to encourage and celebrate the best and brightest student theatre that the UK had to offer. Since then, we’ve expanded and today we offer a platform where young people, regardless of whether they’re in education or not, can come together and celebrate the power of performance.



The festival is for people who love theatre, making it, watching it and talking about it. This festival is an opportunity to show your work, learn, discuss, write and try something new.


As always, it was a week of inspiring discussions and meeting people who challenged and encouraged my way of thinking, both myself as someone who wants to work in the Arts sector, but also about theatre in general; its purpose and its future.

Festival Participant | NSDF 18

Every year we host a week-long festival where we welcome hundreds of young people, established artists and local audiences. We present a number of productions, selected throughout the year from across the country.

We host 100 workshops, led by practitioners and industry professionals.

We recruit a number of young people to be part of our Technical Team providing hands-on experience and training with state of the art kit, and a number of young people to our Management Team, developing skills in producing, venue and Front of House management as well as Arts Administration.

We publish Noises Off, a daily magazine written by students and young people, online and in print.

We programme late night entertainment, including quizzes, cabarets and parties. We offer social spaces, long into the evening, where you can chat with each other and the visiting artists – chat about the work you love, about work you don’t love, about the state of the world, and about your ambitions.

At NSDF, exciting, unexpected collaborations begin; friendships are made; careers are launched.


Inspiring and invigorating to be in a space that genuinely and consciously amplifies the voices of young theatre makers without ever patronising or dismissing ideas.

Festival Participant | NSDF 18 


Throughout the year we scour the country, searching for work to present at the next Festival. Our Selection Team is made up of performers, writers and directors. They travel around the UK, at the invitation of theatre companies, schools, colleges and individual artists, attending one of the performances. After the show, they’ll sit with the cast and production team to talk about the work and to offer feedback.

2 months before the Festival, we all gather at our office for Selection Day to talk about all the work we’ve seen and select which productions we will present at the Festival.

You can enter your show here.

He She They, 2017