Bursaries awarded to fourteen final-year drama students

This year’s Lawrence Olivier Bursaries have been awarded to 14 final-year students by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) to help support them in finishing their studies. The grants range from £1,000 to £7,500.

The bursaries went to students studying at: Drama Centre London, Bristol Old Vic, LAMDA, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Manchester School of Theatre, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, ALRA, Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, Mountview and the Oxford School of Drama. The students were invited to a ceremony to receive their bursaries on 20 June.

Three other bursary prizes are also awarded, including the Carmen Silvera Bursary and the Mary Selway Bursary – in memory of the actress and casting director respectively; and the Behrens Foundation Bursary.

SOLT president Mark Rubinstein said: ‘More than ever before there are talented drama students who, without additional financial support, would be unable to complete their course.

‘We are delighted that we have been able to help the talent of tomorrow and we look forward to seeing them on West End stages very soon.’

SOLT first established the Lawrence Olivier Bursaries in honour of the actor’s 80th birthday. Since 1987, the grants have helped to support hundreds of drama students facing financial difficulties.

www.solt.co.uk/bursaries

International Student Drama Festival 2012

University of Warwick students perform The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui at the NSDF 2011 (c) NSDF

This week has seen the first International Student Drama Festival (ISDF) take place in Sheffield. The National Student Drama Festival (NSDF) took the decision to make this year’s event global, so to celebrate the Cultural Olympiad (see Teaching Drama Summer 1 for our article on the NSDF ‘Going Global‘).

The 9-day festival began on 22 June with an address from Tim Etchells, Forced Entertainment’s artistic director. The company, based in Sheffield, was established in 1984 by Exeter university graduates – something which would inspire many of the student attendees.

Etchells spoke of his concern for the government’s current attitude toward the funding of artists and theatre: ‘We are – in case you hadn’t noticed – living in a space of economic downturn […] a space which offers us the dismantling and out sourcing of state functions (health, education, arts) and in general cuts and with cuts a steady insistence on the importance of private sponsorship a situation in which, little by little sponsors help to define the shape of public institutions.’

Etchells also said how ISDF was an ‘amazing opportunity to show and to meet and to invent’. He offered advice to students, recommending that they should, ‘steal things, from everyone and anyone. Take one thing from everything you love and then hide, mix and rework it all in what you do. Take one thing and make it yours.’

As well as Etchells, there have been a number of visiting artists in attendance at the international festival. Hull Truck Theatre Company’s John Godber is acting as a judge for this year’s panel. Other big names from the theatre industry in the UK have included the RSC, LAMDA, Mountview, Old Vic Tunnels, Masterclass, Out of Joint, Forced Entertainment and many other organisations and individuals who have been running 270 workshops that have been put on for visitors.

There has also been a selection of visiting global artists such as Vietnam Youth Theatre, Australian company Circa, Ashtar Theatre from Palestine and theatre companies from Russia, Iran and Iceland.

The ISDF has seen 20 performances from students from around the UK, as well as many international performances from theatre companies originating from the US, Israel, Japan, Australia and Zimbabwe.

Shota Rustaveli Theatre Company, from Georgia, USA, were described as, ‘a highlight of this year’s ISDF programme’ by The Stage, with their performance of Our Town. Another highly commended performance came from With Wings Theatre Company, a group of former students from Giggleswick, Yorkshire. Their production of If Room Enough, an adaptation of The Tempest, has been referred to as the ‘hottest ticket in town’. There are plans to take the production to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013.

Director of theatre at the University of Sheffield (one of the festival’s partners) Professor Steve Nicholson said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for students to broaden their theatre experience and maybe even challenge some expectations. It’s almost like having the best of the Edinburgh Fringe on our doorstep and shows once again that Sheffield is one of the most exciting cities in the UK if you want to see and study live performance.’

The ISDF will finish on 30 June.

www.nsdf.org.uk

SOLT awards 13 lucky drama students with bursaries

SOLT president Mark Rubinstein, judge Lee Menzies and this year’s bursary winners

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) has awarded this year’s Laurence Olivier bursaries to 13 students attending drama schools across the UK. This year’s scheme saw £55,000 donated to drama students entering their final year of training.

SOLT president Mark Rubinstein said of the applicants: ‘Following a highly competitive audition process and a remarkable display of ability, our 13 winners have been chosen. These bursaries allow the students to concentrate on their critical final year of studies by easing the financial pressures of drama school. I am looking forward to seeing them all on West End stages very soon.’

First established in 1987, to mark Sir Laurence Olivier’s 80th birthday, the bursary scheme supports those training at drama school that are experiencing financial difficulties. Previous winners of the bursary have included Michael Sheen, Ewan McGregor and Patterson Joseph.

Grants range from £1,000 to £7,500 and are awarded by a panel of judges from the industry. Each year principals from selected drama schools from around the country choose two students to be put forward for the bursary prize. All applicants then audition in London’s West End in front of the bursary judges. The panel is headed by West End producer Lee Menzies, who has worked on plays such as Top Hat and Tell me on a Sunday.

This year saw two winners from the Drama Centre, along with other successful students from the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, Central School of Speech and Drama, Mountview, RADA and others.

To find out more information about the Laurence Olivier bursaries, along with other financial schemes offered by SOLT such as The Carmen Silvera Bursary, visit http://www.solt.co.uk/bursaries.html