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Harry Styles fangirls and foxhunting feature in Angel new writing festival

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 July 2016

Kings Head Theatre bar

Kings Head Theatre bar

Anna Bruce

#Festival46 opens at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington this weekend

Every time you click your fingers, a new show opens on the West End.

As another musical from the makers of that musical you saw last year gets rave reviews, the emerging faces in playwriting are buried in the throng.

Giving a much needed platform for new writers to showcase their work, #Festival46 is featuring 20 shows from young production companies over the course of two weeks.

The King’s Head Theatre has long been a champion of new work, and the festival is an example of this.

“This year’s festival embodies the spirit of our venue,” says Adam Spreadbury-Maher, the theatre’s artistic director.

“It’s a place for early-career artists to develop their skills and a space for exciting young companies to perform alongside theatrical veterans.”

Covering a diverse range of topics from internet censorship and mid-life crises to the creation of Frankenstein and Harry Styles fangirling, the festival showcases theatre, comedy and musical theatre all under one roof.

As part of the commitment to nurturing new talent, the King’s Head has run their directing programme since 1994, taking on directors at the start of their career and mentoring them through directing and producing their own shows.

The four shows that have resulted from this year’s stock of directors are the centre-piece of #Festival46.

One of these plays is ‘Phoebe’, written by A.C. Smith, a scriptwriter who has won awards from the Royal Shakespeare Company and Soho Theatre and has been shortlisted for a number of others.

Her play ‘Phoebe’ follows one young woman’s attempt to make sense of the world, directed by George Smith and produced by Dave Spencer, two of the theatre’s trainee resident directors.

When her brother goes missing, Phoebe sets out to find him, and battles her neighbours as they try to kill the fox she has befriended.

The play aims to challenge beliefs on mental health, representation of minorities and animal rights.

“It questions the idea of what it means to be ‘normal’,” she says.

“It’s important to remember that just because someone is different, it doesn’t mean they’re flawed or broken.”

In 2013, Smith co-founded the London Playwrights Workshop, a website that provides support to emerging writers.

Entering the industry when the effects of the recession were being felt, she noticed the “devastating impact” that arts funding cutbacks were having on her peers.

“I think it’s critical now that emerging writers help each other out and take the initiative to self-produce,” she says.

“It’s really empowering to know you have the power to get your work out there’

Among the other festival highlights is Poor Michelle Productions’ ‘Harry’, written by Caitlin McEwan, a play about female friendships and celebrity fandom through the eyes of two girls obsessed with Harry Styles.

“New writing engages with the world that is around us,” says McEwan.

“I think new work festivals like this are really important to give new writers and new theatre companies a voice, particularly in such a prominent Fringe theatre like the King’s Head.”

#Festival46 runs from July 18-30 at the King’s Head Theatre on Upper Street. Information and tickets for all 20 shows can be found at kingsheadtheatre.com

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