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Touring theatre company Changeling announce two apprentices for summer tour across Kent

By Angela Cole

A Kent theatre company has appointed two apprentices for its summer-long, countywide tour for the first time.

Maidstone-based Changeling Theatre will be touring two open air productions across Kent this summer, William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale and Jessica Swale's Nell Gwynn, taking in castles, beaches, gardens and vineyards.

After auditioning hopefuls, managers have picked 18-year-old Layomi Coker from Gravesend and 18-year-old Chelsea Dutton from Dagenham to join them on tour.

The Changeling Theatre Measure for Measure cast last year
The Changeling Theatre Measure for Measure cast last year

The apprentice scheme, which is supported by Arts Council England, gives acting hopefuls the chance to experience live theatre and working with a professional cast and crew.

Artistic director Rob Forknall said: “We were blown away by the talent from Kent this year. We saw some really strong performers at the Hazlitt Theatre, but Layomi and Chelsea were just so good that we had to appoint both of them. They demonstrated not only huge amounts of natural acting talent and charisma, but a real desire to get stuck in. This opportunity will give them a step up the acting ladder and open doors to new roles and opportunities in their careers.”

Layomi Coker is one of the Changeling Theatre apprentices
Layomi Coker is one of the Changeling Theatre apprentices

Layomi Coker trained at Canterbury College for her Extended Diploma in Performing Arts and Production. She also played Scaramouche in Gravesend Grammar School for Boys We Will Rock You.

Layomi said: "It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity where I can do what I love whilst learning from those around me. This summer will allow me to become the best version of myself and to develop my skills to the best I can.”

Chelsea Dutton, a Changeling apprentice this summer
Chelsea Dutton, a Changeling apprentice this summer

Chelsea Dutton became a member of the National Youth Theatre at 14 in 2015 and has trained as an NYT ambassadors. She has worked as an assistant with Creative Blast Studios and been in productions for the Impetuous Kinship.

Changeling Theatre's summer 2018 tour was Blithe Spirit
Changeling Theatre's summer 2018 tour was Blithe Spirit

Previous apprentices have gone on to big things, including starring in Game of Thrones and the West End's Everyone's Talking About Jamie. Cary Ryan from Maidstone, who was an A-level drama student at Simon Langton Grammar School when he played Hamlet two years ago, is now studying Drama at Plymouth University.

Changeling Theatre hopefuls with artistic director Rob Forknall
Changeling Theatre hopefuls with artistic director Rob Forknall

The tour will run from Friday, June 28 to Sunday, August 18. To book tickets and see venues, go to changeling-theatre.com

Read more: All the latest theatre news across Kent

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