Composite image of NSDF audiences in their seats with a purple blue hazy background

What Happens At the Festival?

Wherever NSDF takes place, whether it’s one of our chosen cities or even fully online as we were in 2021, these are some of the elements that make up our Festival.

The best theatre created by 16-26 year olds from all over the UK is presented to an audience of young people, professionals and public. Alongside this NSDF runs around 100 workshops led by some of the most talented professionals in the industry. There are discussions, debates and masterclasses. Talent is spotted and coached and lives get changed. You get to be part of something. 

  • Anyone aged 16-26 years old can participate at the Festival, it doesn't matter if you are in education or not!
  • We present productions selected from all the entries we see throughout the year
  • We programme a range of workshops covering performance, producing, technical theatre and everything in between
  • We run late night events every evening and daily discussions on the shows and on industry issues
  • We have a Festival magazine called Noises Off with young people who apply for places on the editorial team
  • We have a Technical Team and Management Team made up of young people who apply for places and help us produce the Festival week


Each year, NSDF presents  shows from young companies from all over the UK. All shows at 2021 were showcased online. They were all free and some are still available online and can be watched here. All you'll need to do is register! 




This past week with @NSDFest has felt like theatre’s version of Disneyland- it’s that magical. Grateful to all emerging sparks met and to those who gave us their time. Proud to be a part of the #NSDF19 fam.
Azan Ahmed | NSDF 19

Workshops and Masterclasses

Over 7 days we organise over 100 workshops for Festival participants to choose from. Every day we present workshops led by some of the most exciting and brilliant artists and organisations in the industry.

Recent Masterclasses from legends such as Lucy Prebble, Javaad Alipoor, Jack Thorne, Clint Dyer, Tamsin Greig, Josh O'Conner and Daniel Bailey. Some of these masterclasses can still be viewed on demand here. 

In recent years, workshops have been offered by, among others, these major institutions: the RSC, The Paper Birds, Young Vic, Royal Exchange, Manchester; Nottingham Playhouse, National Theatre of Wales, National Youth Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, SLX, Good Chance, Soho Theatre, Sisters Grimm, Headlong, Rash Dash, Blackout, Middle Child, Barrel Organ, Fuel, Paines Plough, Filter Theatre, Slung Low, Matthew Bournes New Adventures, Lung and New Diorama. 

Panels and Discussions

NSDF believes that discussion in a public space, that coming together in a spirit of enquiry and genuine investigation is of profound importance.

We host Q&A's where the whole Festival can take part to discuss the programme of shows at the Festival alongside special discussions with high profile panels exploring issues of deep contemporary relevance. 

To view some of our NSDF 21 panels, click here.


The festival itself was so much fun and it was great to be able to connect online with such a vast amount of young companies like ourselves. At a time when networking and making connections within the industry has been turned on its head - NSDF has been a fantastic opportunity to get involved with so many other young creatives.
Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham | Thunk-it Theatre | NSDF 21

Evening Events

Every night of the Festival week 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 the state of the world, and about your ambitions. 


Festival Teams

We have 3 different Festival Teams you can apply to be a part of each year. All of our Teams follow a bespoke training programme and are integral to the running of the Festival week. You can join The Technical Team, The Management Team and the Noises Off Critics Team