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Be part of Big Spirit

The Big Spirit Youth Theatre was founded in 1984 at the Queen Mother Theatre to offer actor training and performance opportunities to young people aged 14 to 18. Since then, Big Spirit (formerly known as the Bancroft Youth Theatre) has helped actors learn the skills of performance and many have gone on use their talents professionally.

Weekly training is given through a mixture of workshops and appearing in shows; so you are putting into practice what you learn in front of a paying audience as soon as possible. This unique approach means that virtually anyone can learn how to perform confidently and competently in a very short time. Of course, performance skills are useful for everyone, whether you are planning to become an actor or not, but we also offer opportunities to Direct, Stage Manage, costume and even write scripts. 

All Youth Theatres should be like this…

John Southland, National Theatre Director

The list of productions performed is endless, but in recent years our students have taken to the stage in Romeo and Juliet, I Don’t Like Mondays, Bat Boy, The Great Gatsby, Road, Legally Blonde, Peter Pan, Something’s Afoot, Macbeth, The Royal Hunt of the Sun and Junk. We offer a wide range of shows and plays for our students to work on, meaning they are being trained in many different theatre styles. We are most famous for our use of Physical Theatre and our Directors are passionate about teaching students to approach scripts with their own ideas – simply put, we don’t tend to follow many pre-written stage directions! 

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Big Spirit have also written a number of original productions include the musical Half Moon Street which follows the fortunes of the Mazerin family and their neighbours in Half Moon Street as the bombs fall on London during the Second World War, and Runaways, which tells the story of a boy who runs away from home and lives on the streets of London.

Success at Edinburgh Fringe!

Big Spirit regularly send productions to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and have scored some notable successes over the years:

  • 1992: Teechers, by John Godber
  • 1996: The Drowned and the Saved, by Primo Levi
  • 1997: Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  • 1998: Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
  • 1999: Beautiful Thing, by Jonathan Harvey
  • 2010: Junk by Melvin Burgess
  • 2019: Downton Shabby by Rob Hughes
  • 2022: I Don’t Like Mondays

About the leaders…

Our leaders Rory and Katie have many years of experience in all aspects of theatre and Big Spirit members regularly have the chance to work with our adult Bancroft Players in shows, as well as enjoying guest workshops with professionals in the industry. Last Summer they enjoyed workshops with a Drama School Audition Panelist, Ex West End performer, film stunt man and a playwright. Keep an eye out for this Summer’s Workshop Programme – open to everyone!

We also work to support those wanting to audition for Drama and Performing Arts Schools and have a fantastic alumni of students who have attended some of the top schools in the Uk – including RADA, Mountview, Bristol Old Vic, Central and Lipa.

We are always looking for new members to join our diverse group; auditions are held bi- annually and annually, so get in touch now to learn more!

Big Spirit Resources

Online payments

If you’ve been successful in securing a place in Big Spirit, you can make payment for your membership online here.

Join Big Spirit

If you would like to apply to join Big Spirit, then please download the application form and send the completed form to the Queen Mother Theatre.

Big Spirit Application Form 

You need Adobe Acrobat Reader (or other PDF reader) to open the documents. Documents will either open immediately or trigger the download process, depending on your browser.

Contact Big Spirit

Not sure about joining Big Spirit? Check out the Big Spirit FAQ, and if you still have questions or concerns you can contact the Youth Theatre Director above.


A brief history of the youth theatre was written in 2006, and a lot more has happened since! You can read more about our history in the article,

“The History of Big Spirit”

by Rory Reynolds, Youth Theatre Director.

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