TWO jobbing actors have set up a youth theatre company to act as a launch-pad into the big time.

Fred Lancaster and Tom Lincoln have formed Brighton Youth Theatre with the intention of giving actors the training they need to audition for top-flight drama schools.

Fred, 28, and Tom, 31, met at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama and started the company after realising there was a gap in the market.

Fred, born and raised in Brighton, said: "There are lots of groups and independent organisations offering different things or specialising in, for instance, musical theatre, so we are that gap.

"I'm confident that the course we are offering is a fantastic foundation for anyone intending to audition for drama school or develop their craft.

"The thing that makes us different to the other offerings out there is that we are all young working actors, dancers, choreographers and writers, which sets us apart from the rest. We ourselves are part of the profession, a family of young professionals."

As a teenager, Fred was a member of the Brighton Dome Youth Theatre that was set up by Hollywood actor David Oyelowo.

It disbanded after Oyelowo's career took off but Fred said: "I was staggered that no one had taken on the baton from David and established a permanent youth theatre in Brighton.

"Brighton is so culturally rich, with such amazing artistic heritage that I felt as if something needed to be done in order to give young people the opportunity I had."

The pair have managed to get The Old Market as their venue and intend to put on a two-week summer school as their "flagship" programme, adding more modules as time goes on.

Fred said: "We are so excited to have The Old Market as our centre. I feel that having the backing of such a solid and well-known venue will give us that stamp of professionalism because we are relatively unknown on the Brighton scene. Having that name attached to our brand will help us massively.

"The summer course will be our flagship course, but hopefully we'll launch one in the Easter and one in the autumn and they will be more disciplinary workshops."

"There's a fantastic wealth of knowledge to be garnered from a degree," he said, "But I believe the demand is there for a new youth theatre.

"We want to build something that's long-lasting and prestigious, serving as a catalyst for a new generation of theatre in Brighton and Hove."

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