Interview: Ann Akin

This week Female Arts' Amie Taylor managed to catch Ann Akin, the director of Young Harts Theatre Company; a vibrant company that promotes drama and education for young people within the community. They have an incredibly exciting two days of performances coming up at the Lyric Hammersmith, which promises to host an exciting variety of new pieces. Read on to find out a little more about the work of Young Harts.

The Festival aim is to to bridge the gap between the industry and young new writers by bringing professional writers and young people together in a two day festival at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Tell us a little about you and your arts career, where you trained and how you came to work in your position now....

I started training when I was 11. I used to take Saturday classes in music, dance and drama at Sylvia Young. I then went on to do Musical Theatre at the BRIT School, I have a degree in Media Performance and I also went to Drama Studio London after my degree. I've been working professionally for 12 years now.

But my journey to where I am now as a director of a community arts theatre company started 6 years ago when I set up a female theatre company with my best friend Catherine Ashton called Vintage Star Productions. I wrote, directed, choreographed and acted in my first play called Conversations with Love which did really well and we had a whirlwind two and a half years, achieving things that I didn't imagine. But I wanted to do more and work with young people. I wanted the heart of the company to be community based. So, whilst still a director of Vintage Star I started teaching the drama classes at LOST Theatre in Stockwell. Now called the LOST HARTS Young Company. We started with about 6 kids and now have 60 regular kids and we are funded by Young Lambeth Coop to deliver the classes and activities there. Harts delivers classes in 3 boroughs in London and we are about to launch in Barnet and we also deliver mental health awareness workshops.

But I am also still a working professional actress

Tell us a little about Young Harts...

The Young Harts Writing Festival started as a competition for anyone aged 10-25 where they were asked to submit a 10 minute play with the theme of power.

I had the idea about a year ago and thought it would be great to produce a festival that bridges the gap between young people and professionals.

So 5 winning writers will compete against 5 commissioned professional writers and go head to head in a 2 day festival for the title of audience favourite. But the audience do not know who has written each play when they cast their vote

How has it all been going so far?

Its all been going so great and its a really exciting festival. There are so many great professional creatives and young people involved and I feel really proud that I have been able to get them all together as part of one project.

We are about to go into rehearsal this week so it's all starting to feel very real

What do you hope will come from the initiative?

I always try and place myself on the receiving end of all the initiatives and projects that I produce. I will never forget the sometimes overwhelming feeling that you get when you are starting out, where you feel like your dreams, desires and the people that you believe will help you get there are so out of reach. We tend to think and feel that the industry and being a professional is so unobtainable, only to realise that it can be achieved and the people we are looking at and panging to be like, are just like us.

It can be a real mental battle sometimes to focus on yourself and to not compare yourself to others, thinking that they have something that you do not have. I wanted to create an festival that dissipates that idea. I wanted to create a warm friendly and collaborative opportunity that brings us all together and gives us all the sense that anything is within reach and we are all the same. Professional and 'non' professional.

When can we see the plays performed?

All the plays will be performed over 2 nights on the 8-9th April at 8pm at the Lyric Hammersmith

What can we expect to see?

Gosh! All of the plays written by the professional and young writers are of such a high standard that it is honestly really hard to tell which one is written by who. We have a great variety of plays that will make you laugh and possibly cry and have you on the edge of your seats. We have such a great cast of actors that you will be on the receiving end of some truly powerful and funny performances. But we also have a great host (Sabrina Grant) who will make you feel at home and a resident DJ (Larry Linneka). There will also be a few freebies and surprises. You're in for a real treat!

Above all HARTS is all about having fun and I'm sure everyone in attendance will have a lot of fun.

Website: www.hartstheatrecompany.co.uk
Twitter: @Harts_Theatre

Booking: http://www.lyric.co.uk

More information on The Young Harts Theatre Festival 8-9th April at 8pm at the Lyric Hammersmith here in the Female Arts feature: http://www.femalearts.com/node/2321

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