Estimated reading time:5 minutes, 8 seconds
Everyone has a story. If you want to change your life dramatically then you need to head to YATI – the Young Actors Theatre Islington – where Joey Jarossi teaches drama to 3-16 year olds. Interview by Nicola Baird. Photos by Kimi Gill Photography.
“I grew up at YATI and now I’m teaching there,” explains Joey Jarossi who clearly loves this famous Islington drama school. “When I first came to YATI I was about eight years old and I was lucky enough to be taught by Anna Scher when it was the Anna Scher School. I was super shy, but I grew in confidence. Now I’m teaching at YATI I’ve seen some kids completely transformed,” he explains over a cappuccino at Costa Coffee on Islington Green just before his afternoon workshops start.
“It’s a great community, like a family. No one ever leaves – they might go away for a bit (maybe to university) but then they come back,” says Joey explaining that he began there at eight, left, then returned to YATI aged 14 and fondly remembers doing the show Billy Elliott.
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Joey, 24, is very friendly, sharp-eyed (he’s quick to spot the X-Factor celeb in the coffee shop – Fleur East) and totally switched on to drama. But if you ask him what he’s acted in he’s not boastful, often claiming he was a “background character.” He’s clearly a huge fan of theatre and has been on YATI’s acting books, but he’s also really enjoyed working as a chaperone for YATI’s Isaac Andrews when filming Hercules and a horror film called Blackwood.
“I say to parents all the time when they ask about sending their child to YATI that they don’t have to be all ‘jazz hands’ or want to be famous. Not everyone wants to be a star. At YATI they’ll make friends, build their confidence and find an artistic outlet,” he says. “Some of my oldest friends went to YATI with me when we were really little. And I found it such a saving grace when secondary school was a bit too much.”
Places Joey Jarossi likes in Islington
- YATI – anyone can go to a show (the big one is the Xmas show) and there are even adult classes. Call up, email or pop in and ask.
- Almedia Theatre is great I’ve done loads of courses there including a year long course, called LAB. We put on a show for a week in the big theatre. I want to go back as I haven’t seen anything there for a while.
- I love the Little Angel Theatre. If I’m babysitting in the day (for five to 13 year olds) it’s my favourite place to take the kids I’m looking after to, but I’ve got a whole repertoire of fun places we can visit.
- I love Rowans Tenpin Bowling in Finsbury Park. It’s so cheap and my friends love going thre too for the arcade, pool, dance mat and the bowling. I also work at the Everyman Cinema in Belsize Park and we had our staff party at Rowans.
As a teenager Joey, who grew up in Islington and went to William Tyndale Primary, enjoyed the Monday class and occasional shows. Now he wants more kids to experience the intensity of creating and performing a show with YATI.
“When we do shows we rehearse every Saturday and the week before the show rehearse every day,” he explains. Recent productions have included Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan (Dec 2016) and Monologues (April 2017). “Now we’re working on The Sea (a comedy by Edward Bond) to be performed in July and the end of summer gala variety show,” he says.
“I really suggest doing a YATI show,” adds Joey. “You really get a closeness with the others in the show and it’s nice to build something and watch how it all comes together. Because it’s just you and your friends on stage there’s a real ownership and it’s more eclectic than school.” Every half term you can spend a week honing your acting skills, but this summer from 30 May to 2 June there’s the chance for 10 year olds+ to “make a shakey’, and this time it will be just four days to work on creating Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s going to be fun and is billed on the YATI website as, “Full of witches, ghosts, madness, murder and moving trees, this is a story that still has the power to chill and to thrill.”
So many people in Islington have had some of the best times of their lives at YATI. What’s so lovely is that you can meet three generations of Islingtonians who’ve trod the boards at this Barnsbury Road institution. Here’s a big shout to Joey Jarossi for introducing so many youngsters to theatre craft at YATI. But if you’re reading this Mrs Robinson, perhaps don’t put your daughter on the stage…
- Young Actors Theatre Islington, 70-72 Barnsbury Road, N1 http://youngactors.org.uk/
- twitter @YATIslington facebook https://www.facebook.com/yat.islington insta @yatislington
- Info about the May 2017 half term course can be seen at http://youngactors.org.uk/make-a-shakey/
Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com.