Taking his script to the stage will be an emotional experience for budding young Ukrainian actor, Alan. 

But, now rebuilding his life in Stockton, the 18-year-old is passionate about sharing this story.

His play, Snowdrop, was first written and selected for a professional reading at the National Theatre’s New Views Festival last year.  It is now going to be fully performed at ARC, Stockton, by Alan and fellow acting students from Stockton Riverside College.

Feeling a sense of responsibility to get the performance just right, Alan said: “For me, the play tells a story of every Ukrainian.  It represents their pain, their loss, their love, but most importantly their hope.”

Based loosely around his own experiences, it is the story of a young actor, Nicholas, on the brink of success, when he is forced to flee as war breaks out in his homeland.

Alan was just 16 when he himself felt compelled to leave Ukraine with his mum, sister, and grandfather.  In the weeks and months that followed they witnessed bombs falling, spent days and nights in an underground bunker fearing for their lives, and leaving behind friends and loved ones.

On their journey, they witnessed the hardship and devastation of all those around them, including suffering and loss.  Alan tried to capture all of this, along with stories he has seen and heard from relatives and friends, in his script.

Now living with a sponsor family in Stockton, he knows how lucky he is.  Studying acting at Stockton Riverside College offers him his own little piece of normality in a world that has been turned upside down.

At the same time, he constantly follows the news of what is happening at home.  The aftermath of his experiences is still apparent, as he explained: “Every time I hear a firework I instantly dive out of the way.”

Often hiding his experiences behind a smile, it is easy to forget the trauma Alan has been through or how much his life has changed.

But given the chance to perform his play at ARC, alongside a cast of college classmates, teachers, and actor friends, has created a platform to open-up.  And while an extra show in the college calendar means more work and rehearsals in their own time, everyone was quick to get on board.

Alan said: “I don’t want to feel pity from people, but I do want people to know and understand what is happening.”

Deciding whether to take the lead role in the play felt like both an obvious and difficult decision.  He said: “My biggest fear is messing it up as an actor, there’s a lot of responsibility on the character I’m portraying.”

But, with his college tutor, Kelly Fairhurst, as director, and a cast of friends around him, he added: “I am not nervous because I trust every member of the cast.

“When I came to the UK, I was scared that I wouldn’t be accepted, but everyone has been so supportive.  Being an actor can be quite competitive, so having people around me I can rely on, is quite a new experience for me.”

As for the title, Snowdrop, he explained: “They are everywhere in Ukraine, the snowdrop is a symbol of hope, belief and new beginnings.”

ARC’s programmes manager, Chloe Lawrence, said: “We’re delighted to be staging Snowdrop at ARC.  The story Alan is telling is so relevant and beautiful; we can’t wait to see his peers from Stockton Riverside College bring this brilliant show to life.”

Snowdrop is at ARC, Stockton, on Friday February 9, with an age guidance of eight plus. Tickets are adults £10.50, students £5.50, available from ARC or visit: Snowdrop - ARC | Stockton Arts Centre (arconline.co.uk)

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