As Hackney Empire celebrates more than 120 years at the heart of the local community, and in the wake of the last year’s release of the 20 Years of Creative Futures Impact Report Artistic Director Yamin Choudury and the whole team announce the release of the film of the Artist Development Programme’s (ADP) show, A Direct Message on Hackney Empire’s YouTube channel, available to watch here.
Devised by the ADP 2022 Company, with the story by Sumāh Ebelé, A Direct Message explored the experiences of young people; their joy, their sadness, their loss, their triumph and everything in between. The show, a sensational new piece of musical theatre, was developed in just 12 days in August 2022 by a company of 45 young artists and creatives aged 14 – 19 years, who were mentored by industry professionals.
An EP of the soundtrack featuring five ensemble songs is to be released on streaming services in early spring.
Since the first ADP – an intensive two-week summer programme where a company of up to 40 young people create a new piece of musical theatre performed on stage at Hackney Empire – was launched in 2002, Hackney Empire Creative Futures has used arts and creativity to break down barriers, build confidence and provide creative, professional and personal development for young people regardless of their background, education, income or experience.
This year ADP returns, with growing opportunities for young people, including a new Young Writer in Residence placement. The opportunity aims to support the participant to develop their understanding of storytelling in musical theatre, creating theatre by and for young people and address the lack of training opportunities for emerging writers in theatre. Open to people from global majority background aged 20-27, the writer will be mentored through the process by the Dramaturg Ellie Fulcher and work in collaboration with the creative team and company to develop the 2023 show.
2023 has also seen the return of Alter Ego, East London’s biggest talent showcase. 10 acts made up of 14-18 year old artists took to the stage alongside headliners, Jammz, Amaria BB, and Backroad Gee, with dance troupe SKADEUCES (SKD) taking the crown as this year’s winner. The event was livestreamed on Fri 17 Feb and the full film will be available via Hackney Empire’s YouTube channel later this spring.
Rachel Horowitz, Head of Learning and Participation, said, “We are excited to share the incredible work of our young artists through the public release of these films and songs. We are so proud of the work they have created and can’t wait for everyone to see the next generation of theatre makers and leaders coming through Hackney Empire!”
The Hackney Empire Young Producers Programme part of the Creative Development strand of Creative Futures, providing participants from under-represented backgrounds across the borough with the opportunity to curate and produce an arts and cultural events programme, using Hackney Empire’s infrastructure, performance spaces and technical support. Further details of the 2023 programme will be announced soon.
Creative Futures annually engages 4,000 young people aged 12 to 25-years-old. From its inception, Creative Futures set out to reframe ‘culture’ by using art-forms that young people were already engaged in, including film, popular including acting for stage and screen, popular music such as British Rap and R&B, spoken word and dance. The theatre’s unique model of youth engagement has impacted on over 20,000 young lives in its 20-year history.
In total, Creative Futures provides an average of 20 hours of free youth programming each week across 45 weeks of the year. These include workshops and masterclasses alongside professionally produced training and performance programmes, all of which are provided free of charge to all participants.