A Northland institution that's gained a reputation as a summery, theatre-making paradise is celebrating its birthday in style next weekend.

Northland Youth Theatre was once the stomping ground of the likes of actress Rachel House, Toi Whakaari head Christian Penny and artist Cathryn Monro.

The theatre company put on its first show, Driftwood, at Forum North in the summer of 1985. Since then, it has performed more than 70 shows around Whangarei and beyond.

Manager Jess Collins said this year marked 31 years of NYT.


She was hoping to bring together as many supporters and alumni as possible for Saturday's birthday festivities, which will include a theatre-making workshop during the day followed by an evening of music, pop-up performances and partying.

Ms Collins said, since the event was advertised, she had been contacted by a number of people who said NYT had changed the course of their lives.

"I had one guy ring up saying, 'NYT literally saved my life' ... He went on to Toi Whakaari," Ms Collins said.

In preparation for Saturday's celebration, NYT has been collecting mementos, such as photos and programmes, which will be on display at an exhibition-style event at the NYT headquarters in 86 Bank St, Whangarei from 10am.

There will be a theatre-making workshop for all ages at 116 Bank St, hosted by Company of Giants, 10am to 1pm.

From 6.30pm, the Old Stone Butter Factory will host pop-up performances alongside music, food and a catch-up. Attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favourite NYT character.

Admission to both the workshop and evening function is $10. See nyt.org.nz or call 438 4453.