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NIGHTSHADE Comes to Hackney Empire This August


When worlds collide and hate divides, what will it finally take to bury this strife?

NIGHTSHADE Comes to Hackney Empire This August

Artistic Director Yamin Choudury and the whole team at Hackney Empire have released details of the 2021 Artist Development Programme (ADP), now in its twentieth year.

On 14 August 2021, 40 young people aged 14 - 19 from across London will mount a production of a new play - NIGHTSHADE - inspired by Romeo & Juliet - on the main stage of the iconic East London venue.

The classic love story, re-imagined and retold by a young ensemble experiencing the summer of their lives will be devised and rehearsed from 31 July, and co-directed by Yamin Choudury and Kane Husbands, with Ty Lowe as Musical Director, and written by Sumah Ebelé, a 21 year old emerging actor and writer from East London.

Born enemies find themselves in the same place at the same time, with only 6 weeks to change their fate. Fuelled by love, inherited hatred and now questioning all they know, a pair of star-cross'd lovers will change the course of history as we know it.

The Artist Development Programme (ADP) - first launched in 2009 - is a two-week summer programme giving a company of 40 young artists, aged 13-19, the opportunity to create an original piece of musical theatre. Selected through an audition process and guided by some of the industry's leading professionals; young actors, writers, musicians, dancers, designers, singers and rappers develop their practice to compose, write, choreograph, design and perform their own piece of original musical theatre created in just twelve days.

Ticket prices are set deliberately low for maximum accessibility to the young people, family, friends and other audience members, and are on sale now here. Tickets are also on sale at 50% capacity to allow for continued social distancing.

Leona Lewis, recently appointed Patron of the venue, with a special focus on Creative Futures and the work with young people, said, "I'm looking forward to getting to know the ADP 2021 young artists and seeing what they create! My advice when starting a new creative project is to focus on being in the moment with it and don't hold back on even your wildest ideas. Get it out and see what works. Savour every minute."

Kane Husbands is the founder and Artistic Director of The Pappy Show, as well as a facilitator, director, performer and maker specialising in movement, dance, ensemble and physical theatre, and a lecturer at Central Saint Martins.

Sumah Ebelé, a 21-year-old emerging actor and writer from East London who has previously worked theatres including Hackney Empire, Bush Theatre, Royal Court Theatre and Omnibus Theatre.

Sumah Ebelé said, "I was first introduced to playwrighting through Hackney Empire in their young writers group when I was 17, so to now write for the young people that I was once apart of is genuinely an honour. We started working on this project around a year ago and the inspiration was found in thinking about who I was as a teenager and the people I was surrounded by. I wanted to write something that showcased teenagers being authentically themselves, through all their teenage tendencies and nuances but also show that just even in their youth this generation is truly wise beyond its years. I'm super excited for this project as we get to tell such an iconic love story in a way that is completely new and fresh that I hope will touch the hearts of all those who watch but also be completely accessible to those who have never been introduced to Shakespeare before."

After an unprecedented and uniquely challenging year of closure, the Hackney Empire team have recently announced plans for reopening; looking ahead to the iconic East London venue's 120th Anniversary in the autumn, continuing to focus on its commitment to community and championing of young people, alongside an exciting programme of work for audiences to enjoy in the autumn.

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