Film star Ian Hart puts his stamp of approval on newly revealed plans for his beloved Everyman Youth Theatre, writes Laura Davis
THE stage where Ian Hart stood as a shy 14-year-old too nervous to join in with the other young actors is no more. It was torn down along with the rest of the shabby but exhilarating old Everyman Theatre so that a new incarnation could rise from its dust.
So it’s only fitting that the organisation that taught that him the confidence he would need as an adult acting alongside Dustin Hoffman is being reinvented as well.
In ambitious plans revealed yesterday, the famous Everyman Youth Theatre, which also kickstarted the careers David Morrissey, Stephen Graham and Cathy Tyson, is being replaced by Young Everyman Playhouse.
As well as encouraging young actors, it will now provide opportunities for those who want to get involved backstage. Future generations of lighting designers, playwrights, stage managers, costumiers, directors and communications teams to all look back as fondly at YEP as Hart does at the Everyman Youth Theatre.
“I’d been hanging around outside Probe, and a lad I knew, Laurence, took me,” remembers the 47-year-old, during a break from filming Luck, a TV series about horse racing set in Los Angeles that stars Dustin Hoffman.
“I don’t think I joined in the first night. I just sat on the benches on the outside edge watching (youth theatre director) Roger Hill.
“But Ian O’Donahue and David Morrissey, who I both knew from school, were there and it was Dave who convinced me to go back again.”
He blames his “shockingly bad memory” for not being able to recall the names of plays he acted in, but nothing can block out the twin feelings of support and excitement.
“It was for me the most liberating, non judgemental, safe and inspiring place I’d ever seen,” he says.
“Roger Hill was a gift to the people of liverpool – a wonderful man.”
Some lessons he learned at the Youth Theatre he continues draw on today, in an incredibly diverse career with roles ranging from John Lennon in Backbeat, Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the Furor in last year’s TV movie The Man Who Crossed Hitler.
“It is the only training I ever did,” says Hart.
“I learnt that you shouldn’t be afraid to be yourself, to be different.”
Last July, when the old Everyman shut its doors in a ceremony that opened with a funeral procession led by a JCB covered in black balloons and ended with the Sense of Sound choir, Hart was among the 3,000 people making a pilgrimage to Hope Street to say goodbye.