Foundations and expectations

Azan Ahmed discusses his first month as a Young Artist, in the second of our series of blogs from the 2018/19 Young Companies.

We’re over a month in to Young Company, woah. As someone who’s never been part of a youth theatre group before, the experience is already proving to be immensely rewarding. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into and had some pretty generalized expectations of what being a ‘Young Artist’ in a buzzing theatre could be. Thankfully, a lot of these expectations have been debunked and then some. Let me go through a few so you can see what I mean:

Expectation: Everyone will be more qualified or accomplished than you

Reality: IT DOESN’T MATTER what/where people have done/gone to prior to Young Company, what matters is how we deal with tasks given to us in that moment. What’s really nice about our group and the environment that Mike and Valerie have set up, is that we’re all so focused on engaging with each other in the room, so much so that there’s no time or place for an ego-boosting name drop. This is the attitude I’ve picked up on: We’re all 18-25, we’ve all got an interest in acting and we’ve all got our own goals, so we might as well help one another get there by supporting each other in the space.

Expectation: Only our programme leaders, Mike and Valerie, will care about us

Reality: Wrong. Recently, we were able to meet and chat with members of each team that works at the Almeida, from Artistic to Marketing, and it was so useful. It was the theatre’s way of saying ‘You’ve got a foot in the door now, so let us show you all these other avenues you could walk down’. For our group especially this was pertinent, as the theatre industry can often feel like an impenetrable wall post-uni/when looking for work.

Expectation: It’ll be ages before you get close with the group

Reality: A couple of sessions ago, we had to bring in an object that mattered to us, one we could talk about. Said object was then swapped around between the group and whatever object you got given, you had to then make the rest of us believe you had a connection with it. This act of sharing and telling stories, then laughing about it all afterwards, reaffirmed for me the power of story-telling and connection. Personally, I felt like this was the session in which our bond as an ensemble strengthened, as we all had to go up there and be vulnerable, but we were all able to laugh about that shared experience immediately after.

This is going to bring out my inner theatre-nerd, but there’s a quote from Dance Nation (played at the Almeida this summer) that I think applies to our group: We’re all “waiting for the rest of our lives to start” as the creatives of tomorrow, and being part of Young Company is providing us with some great foundations to be those people we want to be. I can’t wait to see what the year has in store for us.


Find out more about Young Company here.