A 16 year old student’s original play has been chosen to be part of the National Theatre’s 2018 New Views Festival

Robert Samuel Lazarus, from Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Elstree, was shortlisted for the National Theatre’s annual playwriting competition for 14 to 19 year olds, New Views, and will have his play read as part of this year’s festival in July.

Robert’s play It's More than Okay Levi was one of ten plays shortlisted from over 300 entries nationwide and presented to a panel of judges including National Theatre Senior Dramaturg Nina Steiger, playwright James Graham (This House, Quiz), actor Michael Balogun (currently performing in Rufus Norris’ production of Macbeth at the NT) and National Theatre Connections Dramaturg Ola Animashawun.

This year’s shortlisted plays sensitively explore a broad range of contemporary issues including immigration, sexuality, gender and mental health. Ranging from monologues to multi-media-infused ensemble pieces, each play introduces a fresh, new and exciting voice.

Robert says: “I feel completely overwhelmed and lucky to have been chosen out of the 300, inevitably extremely impressive pieces of work. I have never had actors read or act anything I've written so that would be a joyful new experience for me. This has definitely given me the drive and courage to keep pushing with playwriting and screenwriting and finding new and exciting ways to tell stories.”

The winning play in this year’s New Views programme and competition is by Alice Schofield from CAPA College in Wakefield. Her play will be given a full production at the National Theatre alongside rehearsed readings of nine other shortlisted plays, all of which will be performed by professional actors.

James Graham, playwright and judge on this year’s panel, says: “There are so many challenges facing young people's access to the arts right now, so thank God something like NT's New Views exists. Its encouragement and mentoring of school age students to have the confidence to write a play is so important. I was taken aback by the talent and imagination, it was such a privilege to read a selection of them.”

Students taking part in New Views have had the opportunity to learn about playwriting from some of the finest writers in the industry and are encouraged to write 30 minute plays about issues that they feel passionate about Students follow an online course written by playwright Jemma Kennedy, with contributions from celebrated playwrights including Simon Stephens, Alecky Blythe and Roy Williams.

They participate in in-school workshops with professional writers, as well as seeing NT Live broadcasts or productions at the NT, Continuing Professional Development for teachers and support from the National Theatre Learning Department.

This year the National Theatre has been working with over 65 schools nationwide as well as in a London Hub and a Partner Theatre programme at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

To book tickets, visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk