Academy to bring drama home

Easy Street drama group
Easy Street drama group
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THERE is no denying that our Steel City is packed full of enthusiastic teenagers who are not only brilliant actors but would also love to make their career on the stage.

You only have to visit one of the city’s many amateur dramatics productions involving youngsters to see that.

Easy Street drama group

Easy Street drama group

The most determined and very best, and that’s only ever a very tiny minority, head to London in a bid to make the big time.

But why should they have to leave home and the city they love to follow the bright lights of a career in acting?

Wouldn’t it be better if there was a place where 16-year-olds can choose to specialise full time in drama closer to home?

That’s just what one ambitious Sheffielder is planning and although she’s starting small, she’s determined to go all the way.

Easy Street drama group

Easy Street drama group

Sallianne Foster-Major is the driving force behind Easy Street Theatre Company’s academy, set up with five adult volunteers determined to spread their love of the stage.

Although it has only got up and running recently, the teachers are delighted that their young stars are loving every minute.

They have their own rehearsal rooms on Little London Road in Heeley and big plans.

“Our aim is to open a full time academy in Sheffield,” Sallianne said. “There are so many kids who have been down to London to audition and it is demoralising for them because they don’t want to live in London.

“Our kids up here have got no chance but we have an absolute wealth of talent in this city.

“If all these companies in London can do it, why can’t somebody in Sheffield?

“We haven’t got anything in Sheffield that is solely performance arts based. The long term plan is to do something full time for 16 pluses.

“You have got to start somewhere so we are starting small and building up. That is how they all started as Saturday classes.”

At present the children’s sessions are held on Saturdays and after school.

Penny Capper leads the drama which Sarah J Hawley is a vocal coach

Although there are shows lined up, the aim of the classes is to help youngsters learn the skills they need for performance.

The Saturday Academy of Performing Arts is open to youngsters aged between 11 and 16. It is split into three sessions - dance, vocals and drama.

There is also a chance during the week for younger children to learn about musical theatre in classes including confidence boosters, fun warm-ups, games, storytelling, improvisation, narration, sculpting, still images and thought tracking.

“The kids are literally learning how to sing and use their vocal skills,” Sallianne said.

“They absolutely love it and look forward to it all week. It is nice for the little ones because when they see the older ones perform, they can see the progress that they could make belonging to the company.

“I think it is brilliant for confidence-boosting. I have got a couple of kids who have quite low self esteem or might be struggling with reading or something like that but they find their confidence and absolutely love performing after two or three weeks.

“They also find a new circle of friends. It is about not being shy or embarrassed and being able to perform in front of people. They are still shy when they come off stage but they become completely different people when they get up on stage.

“There are some children who don’t do it at school for whatever reason and when they are down with us people are gobsmacked that they can do something like that.

“Seeing them do what they do is the best feeling ever.”

Youngsters from the academy will be performing in Easy Street’s Christmas production on Monday, November 14 at The Lantern Theatre.

Find out more at www.easystreettheatre.co.uk, email salfm_tyspa@hotmail.com or call 07787 189178.