A DAY IN THE LIFE OF… Paul Roseby  

Artistic Director Paul Roseby has expanded the National Youth Theatre beyond all recognition with a great team of directors, writers and staff working closely to enable his creative vision and here takes us through a typically busy day

It’s the wrong side of 7am. John Humphries wakes me up. I switch him off. Sorry John, nothing personal, but my partner James is not a morning person. More commonly known as my ‘Husbond’ given his affiliation to 007’s forename, and his various licenses to thrill including a recent helicopter pilot licence, James has yet to qualify for early mornings.

I negotiate any overnight emails, news relevant bulletins and general media curiosities. With no overnight dramas, staff issues, or requests from potential overseas partners, but more positive press from our latest West End REP season at Ambassadors Theatre. A good start to the day.

But greeting me downstairs is the first challenge of the day from a new addition in our lives – we’ve named her Lillian, after the famous silent movie star, Ms Gish, due to the fact that she doesn’t bark. We walk, I talk, she poops, and I scoop. It’s a perfect match made at Battersea Dogs Home, but day three of this new routine and it’s eating into my hard-nosed discipline of gym and jog. I do still find time for the habitual bowl of worthy oats and even worthier mug of hot water: start clean, end messy – that’s the normal routine.

First date of the day is a breakfast meeting with a potential new donor. It’s across town so by the time I get there; I’m ready for my second breakfast. I prefer to meet new donors over a coffee and an egg, as there’s something uncomplicated about it and people who do breakfast tend to do business. It’s a promising conversation and as I champion the unique young people’s opportunities NYT offer, it appears to strike a chord. It’s not always obvious to the untrained ear or eye that we are a charity, and sometimes that works against us. I submerge to the underground to sit at my ‘desk’. The journey allows me to make notes for my speech at our Full Circle fundraiser event. I do this knowing I won’t use them in the end. It’s a way of editing my thoughts, but I hate to read off script which can sometimes be to my (and others) expense! It can bring a whole new meaning to the words ‘bullet’ points.

I pop in to auditions for ‘If Chloe Can’, our free educational initiative that inspires young women to achieve their potential and consider diverse career options. Saying hello to some familiar young faces and meet some new ones is one of the best parts of my job. I’m always in awe of the talent and diverse voices and opinions that make this company so rewarding.

Lunch is a chicken wrap, no mayo, whilst thumbing emails. But I lose my self-control with a banoffee slice.

An afternoon meet with Royal Derngate Artistic Director James Dacre and playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz about an exciting new project planned for 2016 puts my sweet tooth on hold. They’re both great talents. Next year we want to work around the country more than ever before, because being National means being local first and with over 70% of our members living outside of London we have a duty to offer them more opportunities.

2016 is our 60th anniversary year. Targets for this year are still to be met, and to maintain a healthy surplus with only 10-15% of Government funding is a challenge that we are all committed to meeting. We are never far away from that chilling reminder of how fragile any youth arts organisation is but we are as ambitious as the young people we serve.

I think about my notes for this evening’s speech and look at the guest list. I make a pledge not to drink.

I arrive at the 6pm reception with industry guests before Consensual who’ve turned out to support our NYT REP Company. I have a drink. Chat to NYT Patron Ian McKellen, who says “The NYT REP is as good a way into the business of acting as any drama school” and Michael Attenborough who’s mentoring our REP Assistant Director through our Bryan Forbes Bursary, which offers £10,000 a year and the opportunity to work on three West End shows.

Watching Consensual by Evan Placey, I feel a sense of pride and joy for the work and the team. I wanted to commission a play that explored the blurred lines between right and wrong. With deservedly rave reviews, Evan is clearly a kindred spirit not shy of challenging subject matter. I’m also proud that we’re giving a young female actor an opportunity to cut her teeth in this mammoth lead-role, but like everything we do at NYT, the show only works because of the commitment, disciple and energy of the ensemble.

Post-show, I get up on stage, ignore all my notes and speak about the importance of putting young talent on stage in front of an audience and letting them learn by doing it. We are not just a life line to young people, we are a life line to the wider industry.  I then have the pleasure to introduce the celebrated director Michael Attenborough who with typical elegance says “I’m not sure that a company calling itself the National Youth Theatre could do anything finer.”

One more drink then its home. There’s a dog to walk. I resist the urge for a second drink after looking at my diary for tomorrow. It’s a long one. I walk the dog and scoop away. I wonder whether Lilly will come out of retirement and do a charity race for NYT. I’ll ask her tomorrow.