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Business of the week: Young Actors Theatre, the Barnsbury drama school churning out Hollywood stars

PUBLISHED: 09:43 11 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:58 11 August 2017

Staff and students outside the Young Actors Theatre. Picture: Young Actors Theatre

Staff and students outside the Young Actors Theatre. Picture: Young Actors Theatre

Archant

Each week, we profile a company that’s caught our eye doing business here in Islington. This week, we visit the Young Actors Theatre in Barnsbury Road, which offers the borough affordable drama classes alongside its charity work.

Young Actors Theatre’s artistic director Andrew Harries can’t wait to tell the Gazette about the legends the school has turned out.

“The first of our students to mention is Asa Butterfield, who started here when he was six and he’s done lots and lots of very big Hollywood films. Recently, he’s done Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children along with another of our alumni, Ella Purnell.”

The Georgian terraced house that hosts the theatre has also nurtured talents like Obi Ugoala from Motown: The Musical and David Ajala from Fast and Furious 6.

The theatre has more than 650 members attending acting, singing and musical theatre classes. As well as welcoming adults, the workshops are attended from people as young as three.

“People say we’re their second family which is great,” says Andrew. “Islington is a fantastic borough – full of interesting people. What’s great about our theatre is that our membership reflects the diversity of the borough.”

His teachers all work in the performing art industry as actors, directors, theatre practitioners. During the holidays, specialist classes take place. They show people how to act for camera, do stand-up comedy and improvise.

“The key thing is that regardless of their age and previous experience in drama, we treat them all first and foremost as actors,” said Andrew.

An open week runs from September 11, when everyone is welcome to try a class free.

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