Spotlight on The Family Tree

In the summer of 2019 twenty six young people came together to create the first ever dramatisation of Mal Peet’s elegant and challenging novel, The Family Tree. Over a 9-day residency at the theatre, the Young Company conceived a production that combined the original text with stylised explorations of the themes of the novel which included mental health and childhood experiences of the adult world.

Scene from 'The Family Tree' production
NYC – ‘The Family Tree’ © Matt Austin

Lisa Hudson, Creative Learning Manager, explains: “Working with books like this helps young people become more emotionally literate. The drama we explore at NYC has always been issue-based, about empathy and walking around in other people’s shoes. Our philosophy is to enable young people to understand the world and themselves better.”

After performing the show the company were given a standing ovation by a packed audience including the late author’s widow, Elspeth Graham-Peet. Afterwards, Elspeth said the performance had been a ‘fabulous’ interpretation of the book.

“What the cast did as children was to ask questions all the time, talking about how they thought they were feeling. They added to the story and made it their own – they were just brilliant.”


Just wanted to say thank you so much for such a breathtaking and beautiful performance last night. We were absolutely blown away by the talent and the tender and sensitive way the story was told. My daughter was so inspired and it prompted some really deep and important chats about mental health.

Parent of an NYC participant

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