Playing Up Course
Access to HE Diploma: Theatre Arts

Duration: 10 months

Playing Up is an accredited ten-month drama training programme, offering young people aged 19 – 24 who are not in Education Employment or Training (NEET) the opportunity to gain a Level 3 qualification in drama.

On completion of the course, learners achieve an Access to HE Diploma in Theatre Arts, accredited by OCN London. Learners primarily progress to Higher Education study in areas related to Theatre Arts, such as Foundation courses at Drama Schools, BA Acting, Stage and Event Management, BA Theatre and Performance Practice and BA/BSc (Hons) Digital Film Production. Some learners chose to work in the theatre industry following the course or use the transferable skills gained in other professions. The course offers access to creative industry professionals, high levels of pastoral support and has a strong focus on progression routes for learners on completion.

Students performing as part of the Playing Up Course

This course is delivered at The National Youth Theatre. Following the programme Playing Up students have the opportunity to become NYT members, which offers young people the chance to perform in productions at leading theatres, take part in creative leadership training, audition for professional productions and take part in industry-led workshops. Watch this short film to meet some members of the National Youth Theatre in 2020.

Applications are now closed for Playing Up 2023-2024.

The Programme

The course is highly practical and is taught vocationally by industry professionals. It focuses on performance skills such as audition technique, movement, voice, devising performing classical texts, naturalism, scene study, improvisation and acting for screen. There is also an academic element to the course which allows you learners to explore theatre practitioners, diversity in performance and undertake an extended research project. In the last term of the course the group will work towards a final production which is performed at a professional London venue.

Core Course Units

  • Voice Technique
  • Audition Techniques and Processes
  • Improvisation
  • Diversity and Performance
  • History of Theatre
  • Non-Text Based Performance
  • Performing Classical Texts
  • Acting: Scenes to Performance
  • Acting: Naturalism
  • Final Production

Students will also complete an extended research project and modules on study skills, including: preparing for higher education, note talking and note making, speaking and listening, reading and comprehension of texts.

The course is delivered through blended learning, mixing online and physical learning in a workshop space in London. It takes place in the daytime and during the working week.

Am I eligible for a free place?

You are eligible for a FREE place if you are:

  • 19 – 23 years old (you must be 19 or over or under 24 on 31st August)
  • Not in full–time education, employment or training
  • You do not yet hold a full level 3 qualification

Those who have a level 3 qualification who are unemployed can also be considered for the course.

We welcome and actively encourage applications from young people from low income families, young carers, care leavers, refugees and asylum seekers with the right to study in the UK. Young people can self-refer or be referred through a support organisation. Many of the young people who have graduated from Playing Up previously have seen it as a fresh start and if you have any questions about the course you can contact Nell Bailey on