Year 13 A Level student Haleem Clift has been recognised for his acting talent after being chosen to join the National Youth Theatre (NYT).

The 18-year-old who joined Taunton School in the sixth form was selected out of thousands of entries across the UK.

Haleem, who is a Taunton School Patrons’ Programme bursary recipient commented: “I love drama and acting, but I wasn’t sure about drama school. When I heard about NYT, it seemed perfect. It’s a programme for 14-25-year-old actors/actresses to develop and grow. It differs from drama schools in that it’s not full-time. Being part of NYT means you have opportunities to audition for stage and screen casting, develop your ability through workshops and masterclasses and meet other young actors.”

Haleem auditioned in Bristol earlier this year taking part in a 5-hour workshop including improvisation and group work, followed by a 10-minute monologue interview. He said: “It was a great day. I genuinely walked out and said to my mum that I’m not bothered if I don’t get in, it was a great experience. When I got the email 3 months later, it was a lovely surprise. I feel very excited about what the future could hold.”

He added: “As with any success though, there’s always a lot that goes on behind the scenes. For me, this came from my Drama teacher Mrs Stamp and the School Chaplain Mrs Winter, as well as ongoing support from my school house staff. Mrs Stamp helped me choose my monologue and has challenged me with interesting roles at School. Mrs Winter first introduced me to the NYT. Having worked as a professional actor, I’ve been lucky to have been mentored and coached by her. The acting and performance skills I have learnt have been invaluable, both on and off-stage.”

Melanie Stamp, Head of Drama at Taunton School commented: “Haleem’s performance of Ajay Chopra the boxer from the play Beautiful Burnout by Bryony Lavery was an instant hit (pardon the pun) when he first performed the role as part of his Year 12 Drama A Level. Haleem has always had an exceptional ability to engage with a role and create empathetic, detailed and emotionally complex characters. He has a subtlety to his performance which is captivating to watch. This is a phenomenal achievement and he deserves every credit for it! I am just so happy for him!”

The next step for Haleem is a one-week summer intake course, which will take place on the virtual platform Zoom this year.

The National Youth Theatre of Great Britain was established in 1956 and states that it “is a world-leading youth arts organisation… We inspire, nurture and showcase exceptional performers and theatre technicians from Great Britain and Northern Ireland…”

World renowned alumni of NYT include Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matt Lucas and many more.