Zack Lewin first went along to the Shopfront Theatre in Carlton to “come out of his shell”.
Four years later, the 16-year-old has been fully funded by the theatre to produce and direct his own play Star Crossed.
It is the first time Shopfront Arts Co-op – which operates out of the Shopfront Theatre – has backed one of its young artists to this extent, supplying all the resources and funding needed to run a feature show.
The production will open next week at the theatre on Carlton Parade, running from Thursday, April 20 to Sunday, April 23.
“I’ve been making short films and short plays for a few years and I had this little idea,” Zack, from Blakehurst High School, said.
“I asked Shopfront, who I had been working with through its workshops, if I could have a space to work on this project.”
The theatre liked his play enough to fully support him and hold the production at the theatre.
“This is my first large-scale production of any kind,” he said.
“I’m very grateful to Shopfront ... I think they are really good at letting the members, the kids, take control and direct their own art.
“They have let me have a whole lot of creative freedom in what I have done, so it has been a really great experience.”
Shopfront Arts Co-op has been supporting young creatives in southern Sydney for the past 40 years, giving under-25s the opportunity to make innovative new work such as Zack’s play.
Zack said the play includes a three-person cast and was coming along nicely for opening night.
“It is about a boy who meets a girl in a forest.
“He finds out she is not who he thought she was, but by that time it is too late. It is a good, teenage romance.”
Zack has been working on the project off and on since the start of last year.
He said he first went along to Shopfront to take part in one of the workshops for young people.
“When I was 12 my sister was doing workshops at Shopfront. So my mum had me go along as well to come out of my shell. And it worked.”
He said he really got serious about short-film making and play writing when he was about 14.
Shopfront Arts Co-op director of young and emerging artists’ programs Hannah Strout said Zack had been heavily involved with the organisation for a few years.
“He started off doing some of our film making and theatre workshops and has always been really out going and interested in doing lots of things.”
She said Shopfront had got right behind his play – supplying a big team to put on the show, mentorship and all the resources he needs.
“For us it is an opportunity to put at the forefront that we are here to support young artists.”
Shopfront also has programs aimed at young people with disabilities, those with culturally diverse backgrounds and new migrants, and teenagers at risk of disengaging from school.
To buy tickets to the Star Crossed show click here.