The Big Yorkshire Youth Theatre Festival

The Big Yorkshire Youth Theatre Festival is just a few months away!

We are excited to be partnering with York Theatre Royal for this celebration of young creativity from across Yorkshire.  Taking place on the weekend of July 21st and 22nd, booking will open soon, but for now get the date in your diary!

The festival will draw youth theatre members from all over the region to York. An amazing chance to share skills, spark creative collaboration, and celebrate some of the fantastic things young people are doing in Yorkshire. The theme will be Theatre in the Past & Theatre in the Future – quite fitting given the presence of the pop-up Shakespearean Rose Theatre in York this summer!

It promises to be brilliant weekend packed with workshops, performances and a chance to meet other youth theatres in Yorkshire. There will also be opportunities to bring a short performance too.

A one day pass for either the Saturday or Sunday costs £20 or £30 to take part in the whole weekend.
You can book your place by calling either the York Theatre Royal and Riding Lights Box Office (call 01904 623568 or 01904 613000).

For more information you can email  and we’ll add you to the mailing list and let you know when booking opens.


T-shirts for the Big Yorkshire Youth Theatre Festival have been kindly sponsored by Grand Central.

Support needed for Acting Up!

We have recently learned that the Children In Need funding for Acting Up! has not been renewed.

Acting Up! is our Youth Theatre with extra provision for young people with additional needs and disabilities. We have an amazing group of young people and practitioners involved, and it provides a unique space for creativity in York. Therefore we are fighting to keep Acting Up! running, looking for extra funding and planning how we can keep it going. However it costs a little more to run than our other Youth Theatres, employing extra, specialist staff who make sure everyone who comes to the sessions is properly supported.


We’ve already raised a very generous £3000 at our Members’ Day at the start of March. This will help cover our costs and pay staff up until the Summer half term, giving us a vital buffer while we find an alternative source of funding for this unique Youth Theatre.

Can you help?

We’d like to raise more, making sure we can run Acting Up! for another year. Our target is £9000 to see us through to next February. We are pursuing various possibilities because Acting Up! is a hugely important and vulnerable part of the Riding Lights family.

Donate via Just Giving

Please help if you can. Small gifts add up surprisingly quickly and we are grateful for each one. If you would like more information, or would like to donate via another method other than Just Giving, give us a call on 01904 655317 or email

Thank you!

Youth Theatre: Summer Applications Open

Applications are now open for the summer youth theatre courses. Below is a run down of what each group will be working on.

You can apply online, or by downloading an application form and sending it to Friargate Theatre. The deadline for applications id Monday 16th April.

Pull The Strings

Sock, shadow, table top. Bring to life a wide variety of puppets with Junior Youth Theatre this term.

Have fun while you create characters, make your own puppet, and turn a mop into your Great Aunt Mildred. Discover what it takes to become an excellent puppeteer while developing your character building and storytelling skills. This term – you pull the strings!

16th April – 2nd July
(Except Bank Holidays – 7th May, half term – 28th May & 2nd July)

Cost: £80 (Bursaries are available, please ask)


Site Works

‘All the world’s a stage’
As You Like It. Act II Scene VII (Shakespeare)

This term will challenge you to create theatre in and for unconventional spaces. Inspired by work from site-specific theatre companies such as Coney, PunchDrunk, and Blast Theory, we will head out of the theatre to find our own stages. Throughout the sessions there will be opportunities to work with existing text, sharpen up your writing skills, and devise your own site works.

17th April – 26th June
(Except Half Term – 29th May)

Cost: £80 (Bursaries are available, please ask)


Weird World

What if… we are not alone? What if… you found you had a hidden power? What if the rest of the world became disabled…but you were not?

This term, building on last term’s work, we’ll be exploring some weird worlds from speculative fiction – HG Wells, John Wyndham, and many others – dramatising surprising short stories and working towards a scripted summer show to be performed on the 11th and 12th of July.

18th April – 27th June
(Except Half Term – 30th May)

Tech rehearsal: 10th July
Performance Dates: 11th – 12th July
Additional Saturday rehearsals TBC.

Cost: £70 (Bursaries are available, please ask)

Youth Theatre: Autumn Applications Open

Comedy-of-Errors-HatApplications are now open for Riding Lights Youth Theatre’s autumn courses.

As always we have a jam packed, creative term planned exploring families, physical theatre and even a spot of Shakespeare.

You can find out more about the terms projects for Juniors, Seniors, and Acting Up! on the Youth Theatre section of this website. Or you can download an autumn brochure and application form.

Plus, you can also apply for our Youth Theatre online.

Finally we have one other important piece of news…

Seniors – now on a Tuesday

From September 2016 our Senior Youth Theatre is moving to Tuesday nights. It’ll be the same creative community, at the same place, same time, but on a new day. We’re making the move to better accommodate performances at Frairgate Theatre which often take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

Whats’ more, Seniors will be marking this move with a production of one of Shakespeare’s best and most loved plays… Macbeth! Forget boring and traditional Shakespeare, the Seniors will be creating their own gritty, contemporary version of this classic.  All they need is enthusiastic performers!

A Comedy With Errors

Riding Lights Junior Youth Theatre presents

A Comedy With Errors

Take one pair of long lost brothers, one pair of long lost twin servants, keep them in ignorance of each other and throw them into a city of ill repute and you have all the ingredients for theatrical chaos!

This term the Juniors have created their own version of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, amply re-named A Comedy with Errors. Anyone seen The Play that Goes Wrong? Well here’s hoping our play will have all the humour with all the pre-planned disasters! Come along on the 17th or 18th March and see the Barnacle Players attempt to put on their most daring production yet… It will be Shakespeare, but not as you know it!

Thursday 17th – Friday 18th March

Tickets: £8.00/£6.00 concessions
Box Office: 01904 613000 or online

Please note there is a £1.50 per transaction charge if booking online. There is no transaction charge if booking by phone or in person through the Riding Lights Box Office. If you would like your tickets posted to you then there is a 50p charge to cover postage costs

Pipe Dreams

Riding Lights Senior Youth Theatre present…



written by Bridget Foreman & Paul Burbridge, adapted for Youth Theatre by Paul Birch

Pipe Dreams - poster WEBEverything’s hotting up at Private Investigators Inc. Water’s down to a trickle. Chief’s turning up the heat on a pile of stagnant cases, Fox is making Sparky’s temperature rise and the whole team’s clinging to the water-cooler for more than a drop of inspiration.

Our hard-boiled detectives can’t find the link between a series of mysterious crimes from Detroit to Rajasthan… until they stumble on the files of a certain Dr. Snow. Could his detective work in the sewers of Victorian London provide the clue to unblock their brains?

PIPE DREAMS is the hilarious, globe-trotting whodunnit about what’s going on with our water, unmasking a villain rather closer to home than we might like to admit.

Thursday 10th – 12th December

Tickets: £8 / £6 (concessions) / £5 (youth theatre members)
Box Office: 01904 613000

Please note there is a £1.50 per transaction charge if booking online. There is no transaction charge if booking by phone or in person through the Riding Lights Box Office. If you would like your tickets posted to you then there is a 50p charge to cover postage costs.


Acting Up! awarded £40,507 by Children In Need

We are delighted to announce that BBC Children in Need has awarded Riding Lights a grant of £40,507 over three years. This grant will fund our Acting Up! Youth Theatre which works with young people with special education needs and disabilities here in York.

Acting Up! works specifically with young people with special education needs and disabilities. This means that to run Acting Up! youth theatre sessions it requires youth theatre practitioners who are uniquely skilled at working with these young people, as well as a much larger number of staff per participant. The BBC Children in Need funding makes it possible to run the Acting Up! classes with the high level of specialist teaching support needed for these pupils.

The security of funding over three years gives a continuity within which the students can gradually grow in confidence and build close friendships. Kelvin Goodspeed, Acting Up!’s director, and our other youth theatre practitioners find that the social aspect of Acting Up! is extremely important in the lives of our young people who often find it very difficult to form friendships. With three secure years ahead of us we can plan bigger and better productions and really begin enable our students to achieve their ambitions.

The youth theatre had previously been funded by Children in Need, but this funding ended in 2014. We’re also incredible grateful for the support of the Ed de Nunzio Charitable Trust, a local charity that has supported Acting Up! in the interim.

Raising A Production Fund

Acting Up! Logo

The one thing which the Children In Need grant doesn’t cover is a production budget for Acting Up! Therefore at Members Day we announced a campaign to raise a production fund for the company. This will allow Acting Up! to add set design and a greater range of props, costumes and technical equipment to their performances. These additional elements will greatly enrich the young people’s experience of creating theatre in a professional environment.

We’ve already raised £431 of our £2000 target at Members’ Day (Once again, a huge thank you!).

Could you help us raise the rest, either by donating or telling others? Anyone can donate to the production fund on our just giving page at


The Chrysalids

adapted by David Harrower, from the novel by John Wyndham.
presented by Riding Lights Junior Youth Theatre

Chrysalids tempWhat does it mean to belong? To play your part in a community?

Waknuk is a town that prides itself on its purity. Its people are perfect, without defect. Those who don’t conform are outcast to the fringes. A wall is being built to divide them. No-one in and no-one out.

Yet within the haven of Waknuk is a group of young people, themselves different, who are drawn to the fringes and the world beyond. Can they break through the lies and find out what is beyond the safety of the wall?

What does it mean to belong? To play your part in a community?
What happens if you don’t?

Thursday 19 – Saturday 21 March

Tickets: £8 / £6 (concessions) / £5 (youth theatre members)
Box Office: 01904 613000.

Please note there is a £1.50 per transaction charge if booking online. There is no transaction charge if booking by phone or in person through the Riding Lights Box Office. If you would like your tickets posted to you then there is a 50p charge to cover postage costs.

Oh, What A Lovely War!

Oh What A Lovely WarJOAN LITTLEWOOD’S Musical Entertainment
By Theatre Workshop, Charles Chilton, Gerry Raffles and Members of the Original Cast
Title Suggested by Ted Allan

Performed by Riding Lights Senior Youth Theatre by arrangement with Samuel French Ltd
Director: Katie King
Musical Director: Tim Burnage
Choreographer: Erin Burbridge

Be lured by the Senior Youth Theatre into taking a nostalgic musical journey through the First World War. The songs and dance may be frivolous but this piece is anything but. Oh, What a Lovely War! addresses the loss of a generation, who stood up to do their duty and fight for King and Country. Using songs and documents of the period and a hefty slice of satire this piece will pack a punch. So come along and see what audiences have been talking about since the original production hit the stage in 1963.

Thursday 11th December – Saturday 13th December

Tickets: £8 / £6 (Concessions)
Box Office: 01904 613000 or book online.

Please note there is a £1.50 per transaction charge if booking online. There is no transaction charge if booking by phone or in person through the Riding Lights Box Office. If you would like your tickets posted to you then there is a 50p charge to cover postage costs.

Applications open for Summer Youth Theatre

YT logo - NEW

UPDATE: Tickets are now on sale for the Junior Youth Theatre production of “The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader”

The Application pack is now available for our Youth Theatre’s Summer Course. The term runs from the 23rd of April to 17th July, with courses for everyone aged 7 to 18.

To find out more or apply, download an application form, or give us a call on 01904 655317.

(You can find out more about our different Youth Theatres here.)