The Shy Manifesto: From Cursed Child To Shy Teenager
‘Do you really need to come out of your shell?‘ asks actor Theo Ancient. In a world where fame and lusting for the spotlight is worshipped, this is the dilemma explored by new play The Shy Manifesto, currently taking the tale of bashful teenager Callum around the UK.
Paradoxically, Ancient, who stars in the one-man show about introversion and limelight dodging, recently played the lead role in arguably the most high profile play in the world, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The Shy Manifesto however will take Ancient in a different direction; its tour takes place in far more intimate venues and there’s not a wand in sight.
Written by Michael Ross, The Shy Manifesto tells the story of Callum, a 17-year-old who believes that shyness should be celebrated rather than apologised for and overcome. He shares his thoughts about famous shy people, how the world sees him and how friends and family have tried to help, before delving into the story of a party from the night before. As that tale unravels, the audience is left to decide whether there’s hope for him and his future? ‘It’s a coming of age story that explores our insecurities and growing up as an introvert‘ says Ancient.
When he’s not playing the son of wizarding legends or taking new shows on tour, Ancient runs drama groups and works with children and young people. ‘As an actor who now has a few credits‘, he explains, ‘I feel a responsibility to give back the experiences I had when I was growing up and hopefully inspire a new generation‘.
‘As an actor‘, Ancient says, ‘we put ourselves in a position of vulnerability every time we go on stage. You never get used to that. There are all sorts of self-doubts that creep in while you’re performing, so to have an output for those thoughts and feelings, no matter how rational or irrational they are, is really important‘.
But what can the audience discover at the theatre that they can’t by watching a Netflix show or an Iplayer boxset? ‘At the heart of all those things‘, says Ancient, ‘is a story. As humans, we haven’t lost any sense of wanting a good story. What’s wonderful about coming to the theatre is you’re coming to a space where everyone is live in front of you. People around you are breathing with you. The performers on stage have beating hearts as well. And there’s a communal feeling. You’re not experiencing this on your own; you’re experiencing it with a community of people. You’re all coming together to hear this story, which is a tradition that’s happened for thousands of years‘.
‘I hope people will come along to the theatre and fall in love with Callum and his story‘, Ancient concludes. ‘I hope they will go on a rollercoaster with him and leave feeling elated, excited, full of questions and debate. And, hopefully, inspired‘.
The Shy Manifesto will be at Exeter Phoenix on Sun 10 February. Find out more about the show and book tickets here >>