Discarded Nut Youth Theatre (DNYT) whose home is The Nutshell in Winchester is currently welcoming new people to two of its acting companies that will be taking to the stage this summer with two classic tales.

The younger acting group, (academic Years 4-8) will be performing Roal Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, which follows the story of a young boy, living with his two disagreeable aunts, who one day embarks on an escapade filled with mystery, magic and adventure.

Meanwhile, the older acting group (Year 9 plus) has begun working on another renowned Shakespeare production: Twelfth Night. DNYT has enraptured audiences with several Shakespeare productions in the past, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing and Measure for Measure.

This year’s production, Twelfth Night, is filled with comedy, romance and mistaken identity, along with the usual joy and wonder that accompanies any of Shakespeare’s work.

“Forget any preconceptions you might have about Shakespeare’s work. It is beautiful. The stories are timeless," said Noël Jones, artistic director of DNYT.

Noël reveals how Shakespeare can still be relevant to those performing it today through the enduring themes and issues that still resonate with young people today.

DNYT originally started in 2006, initially through National Theatre Connections and after-school clubs. Since then, it has grown into the highly reputable and much-loved youth theatre it is today.

It moved to The Nutshell, Winchester, in September 2018, and since then has performed a wide range of dynamic and thrilling shows in the upstairs performance space.

DNYT also has two thriving musical theatre companies. This year, the younger group will be performing Disney’s award-winning hit Aladdin Jr, whilst the older company are bringing the iconic Footloose to the stage in July.

Noël said: “I am always blown away by the sheer talent and commitment of our young people.”

Even the pandemic in 2020 did not stop DNYT with the groups meeting regularly on Zoom to create some amazing online performances, such as their adaptation: Lord of the Flies, The Investigation and Seussical.

Noël said: “I’m really proud because we were so determined to be there for everyone and to keep that consistency. And it was so important to have those points of contact. It’s really helped us to keep and grow that sense of family. Our ethos is all about inclusivity, trust, bravery, curiosity and fun. We bring together companies of young people with a shared passion and love who create theatre magic. The bottom line is that everybody can shine if they are given the right opportunities.”

If you’re interested in joining this fabulous environment of creative individuals, go to the Discarded Nut website where you can find all the details. 

  • This article was written by Olivia Wilks, from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter Scheme.