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Press Release
Over 100 young people to perform in epic new theatre piece at RSPB St Aidan's Nature Park, as LEEDS 2023 partners with National Youth Theatre.

Over 100 young people will bring to life an epic new theatre piece at RSPB St Aidan's Nature Park which explores climate change and climate migration as LEEDS 2023 partners with National Youth Theatre


RSPB St Aidan's Nature Park

5-9 September 2023

Tickets £16 (£12 for local concessions)

The paths and ponds at RSPB St Aidan's Nature Park in East Leeds will welcome a new type of visitor as the wildlife haven becomes the stage for Nest; a striking new immersive theatre piece that explores themes of identity, existence and climate migration through the eyes of young people using live music, design, visual projections, movement and performance. 

Co-produced and co-commissioned by LEEDS 2023 with the National Youth Theatre [NYT] Nest is a promenade piece that will see the audience experience take place across the nature park. Set in the year 2050 (the year by which The Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change, outlined as the deadline to reach net zero), the story follows 20-year-old Skyler who is attending a bird watching festival following the loss of their grandmother, who loved the natural world.

Nest features a huge cast of over 100 performers and 20 young people in backstage roles, including stage management and design, aged between 17-30 years, many of whom have been recruited from across Yorkshire in partnership with Leeds Playhouse through an open call, alongside existing members of the NYT. The audience will join Skyler as they navigate their way around the park, following the cast across different locations as the story unfolds.  The cast will also feature participants from NYT’s Associate Company, Compass Collective, who assist unaccompanied minor refugees and young people seeking asylum to build resilience and integrate into the UK through theatre, music and film.

Nest was conceived in response to an NYT members survey that found the climate crisis was the issue that young people were most interested in exploring theatrically. The site-specific piece is written by Emma Nuttall (‘Emmerdale’, ‘The Kraken Wakes’) and will be directed by Chief Executive and Artistic Director of National Youth Theatre Paul Roseby (‘Town Planning in the Apocalypse’ by James Graham at the Duke of York’s 2023, ‘Handel & Hendrix’ at Somerset House 2022, ‘Class’ by SS Daley at London Fashion Week 2021).

This is the first time St Aidan's, a former opencast coal mine in east Leeds, has been the venue for a theatrical show. The 355-hectare park features 12km of trails as well as reedbeds, wetlands, meadows and woodland. The largest walking dragline excavator in western Europe, nicknamed ‘Oddball’ - a 1,000-tonne reminder of the mine - overlooks the park, all of which will be carefully considered throughout the week of performances which has been timed to avoid disturbance to wildlife and migration patterns.

“Amplifying the voices and stories of young people has been one of the core ambitions of our Year of Culture. As we enter our third and final season for LEEDS 2023 Part 3: Dreaming it seems only right that one of our major pieces in this season is a brilliant collaboration with NYT and a diverse group of young people exploring some of the big issues of our time. Nest dramatically brings into sharp relief our relationship with nature and takes us into the future through beautiful imagery and storytelling as young people share their hopes and concerns over what, environmentally, lies ahead.”
Kully Thiarai
Creative Director and CEO of LEEDS 2023
"Nest is the latest big show offering of NYT's art and activism programme unlocking facts and stories of our climate crisis by animating locations and unusual buildings in a dramatic way. Staged at St Aidan’s stunning bird sanctuary, both local, national and international performers take action with a world premiere production to lift our hearts, minds and give hope to a fragile earth we call home."
Paul Roseby
National Youth Theatre

Nest is the culmination of NYT’s three-year art and activism programme, MELT, exploring themes and stories of the climate crisis.

“I’m delighted that we have supported Nest with an award of £100,000 through our National Lottery Project Grants programme. The project illustrates how cultural activity can explore serious issues such as climate change through immersive work performed in an unusual and inspiring setting. It’s also a great opportunity for young people to gain skills in backstage roles and for the audience to enjoy a truly spectacular creative experience.”
Catherine Mitchell
Senior Relationship Manager, Arts Council England

Tickets are now available here



For further information and interviews please contact Anys Williams at Anita Morris Associates on Anys@Anitamorrisassociates.co.uk / 07909 151441  


About LEEDS 2023 

LEEDS 2023's ambition is to deliver a transformational year of creative experiences connecting and benefiting people now and into the future. 


The planned programme will celebrate and transform the City’s identity locally, nationally and internationally – creating a lasting legacy of economic and social impact.  


LEEDS 2023 is run by the Leeds Culture Trust, an independent charity set up in 2019 by Leeds City Council as part of its Culture Strategy and as a response to the cancellation of the UK's participation in the European Capital of Culture competition.  


Leeds City Council recognises in a number of its key strategies the difference culture and creativity can make to a city and its citizens, and is the principal funder of LEEDS 2023. www.leeds2023.co.uk 


LEEDS 2023 is supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players for making this possible. 


Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. From 2023 to 2026 we will invest over £467 million of public money from Government and an estimated £250 million from The National Lottery each year to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.


National Youth Theatre is a pioneering youth arts charity that nurtures creative expression, personal well-being and skills development, engaging thousands of young people aged 11- 25 around the UK every year. Established in 1956 as the world’s first youth theatre, NYT seeks out, supports and champions performers, theatre technicians and young creative leaders. NYT produces ambitious theatrical productions in local communities, on leading global stages and in unusual spaces across the UK and beyond, commissioning brave and relevant new writing and reinterpreting classic stories for our time. Recent work has ranged from London Fashion Week and Glasgow’s COP26 to libraries in Liverpool, an earth amphitheatre in Shropshire and theatres in cities around the UK and in the heart of London’s West End. In 2023, the redevelopment of NYT’s Creative Production House led by DSDHA won a RIBA London award in recognition of its environmentally conscious & inclusive design. NYT's 2023 programme includes IGNITE Your Creativity in partnership with Netflix - a free national programme to discover production talent for screen and stage, Assemble - addressing the issue of isolation amongst young disabled people in non-mainstream schools through Local Inclusivity Networks, shows at leading venues, courses in seven towns and cities and NEST. NEST is the latest in over a decade of creative responses to the climate crisis from NYT, which most recently included Climate Cabaret, which premiered at COP26 in partnership with the University of Hull and an Industry Advisory Panel of Ørsted, RenewableUK, and Vattenfall. NYT’s alumni include some of Britain’s most successful performers, technical theatre experts working on the world’s biggest events and stages and creative leaders at venues around the UK and beyond.

Find out more www.nyt.org.uk


Projection Design by Pixel Lux Studio and led by Creative Director, Nina Dunn


Compass Collective https://www.compasscollect.com/

Leeds Playhouse https://leedsplayhouse.org.uk/


RSPB (St. Aidan’s RSPB Nature Park) https://www.rspb.org.uk/


Emma Nuttall https://www.emmanuttall.com/


Paul Roseby https://www.paulroseby.co.uk/

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