Annan Actress Returns Home in First Professional Role

Staff, pupils, family and friends of Annan Academy will recognise Saskia Ashdown from her energetic performances at school shows.

Four years later, Saskia returns to Annandale in an exciting new role: as one of four female international lawyers in Fire Exit Theatre’s powerful new play, Horizontal Collaboration, coming to Lockerbie and Moniaive this month.

Brought up in Annan but now living in Edinburgh, Saskia left home in 2013 to study for a Masters in International Business. But the talented 21-year-old, who is also a classically trained saxophonist and pianist, decided to seek out a more creative career in acting and has landed her first professional role in award-winning writer/director David Leddy’s intense and brilliant new theatre piece.

Saskia said: “When I was studying in Edinburgh, I became a member of the Attic Collective, a talent development initiative with The Festival City Theatres Trust which runs the Festival and King’s Theatres in Edinburgh. I am also a member of the National Youth Theatre.
“After I graduated, I decided to look for a career which was more flexible and less structured than international business. I was doing casual, extra-curricular theatre work and wanted to do more.”

Joining the Attic Collective landed Saskia a role as “She” in Jo Clifford’s play War in America, which premiered at Edinburgh’s Old Royal High School in May and received a number of excellent critic reviews. She is currently touring Horizontal Collaboration around Scotland and hopes the future will eventually lead her into TV and film.

She said: “I’ve had a few auditions for screen but I am at the very start of my career. I do plan to remain in Scotland as the opportunities here for theatre and film are excellent. That said, acting is a very difficult career path to choose and the scene is getting more and more saturated with good quality actors. My idea is to keep trying, never give up and have fun along the way.”

Horizontal Collaboration is a “compelling”, “intense” and “superb” piece of theatre which features a four-strong all female cast and was a huge hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Nominated for Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Award, the play examines the psychology of power and gender in times of war and perceptions of female leadership on the masculine playing-field.

Saskia explained: “Although this play is dark and intense, it really is a thing of beauty. By clever use of lighting and the minimalist approach to the set, the atmosphere is gorgeous and balances the bleak content of the discussion perfectly.
“David Leddy is a brilliant theatre-maker and I have really enjoyed working with him. He is interesting, funny and approachable and has taught me so much.”
Saskia says she is looking forward to returning to Annandale to perform to a home audience. She said: “It’s exciting but bizarre at the same time. The last time I was on stage was at my school show, which was a fun performance for families. Now the same people will see me in a serious and intense piece of quality theatre and in a very different role.
“I am very proud of what I have achieved in so short a time and I’m really excited to be coming back to Dumfries and Galloway to share this achievement with everyone.”

Horizontal Collaboration comes to Lockerbie Town Hall on 17 October and Glencairn Memorial Institute, Moniaive, on 18 October as part of this year’s Arts Live programme. Tickets from the Midsteeple Box Office on 01387 253383 or online from www.dgartsfestival.org.uk

The Arts Live project is funded by Creative ScotlandDumfries & Galloway Unlimited and the Scottish Government and the European Union LEADER 2014-20 Programme.

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