SOLT awards over £50,000 to 2014 Laurence Olivier bursary recipients

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) has awarded the latest round of Laurence Olivier Bursaries to 16 drama students worth over £50,000. The bursaries provide support to students who are facing financial difficulties in their final year of drama school.

The Laurence Olivier bursaries range from £500 up to a maximum of £7,500. Applicants are nominated by the principal of their Drama UK accredited school; they are then asked to audition for a panel of industry professionals led by West End producer and Olivier Bursaries Committee chair Lee Menzies. Previous high-profile bursary recipients include Paterson Joseph, Ewan McGregor and Michael Sheen.

Other grants, such as the Behrens Foundation and Carmen Silvera bursaries, are awarded in conjunction with the SOLT scheme. This year saw the inaugural Clothworkers’ Foundation bursary awarded, worth a total of £37,500 over five years, with £7,500 awarded to a student annually.

The 2014 Laurence Olivier bursaries were awarded to:
Edward Bluemel (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
Jammy Bulaya (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)
Rhianna Compton (Manchester School of Theatre)
Kate Dolan (The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts)
Georgina Downing (Birmingham School of Acting)
Lottie Finklaire (East 15 Acting School)
Emily-Jane McNeill (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)
Megan Pemberton (Oxford School of Drama)
Juma Sharkah (Arts Educational Schools)
Lauren  Soley (Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts)
Elena Valentine (The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts).

2014 OLIVIER BURSARY WINNERS

Back row (L–R) Georgina Downing, Matt Jessop, Michael Jarvis (Clothworkers’ Foundation), Hannah Morrish, Jordon Kemp, Jammy Bulaya, Emily-Jane McNeill, Celeste Veazey, Elena Valentine, Juma, Sharkah, Lauren Soley, Lee Menzies (chair of the Olivier Bursaries Committee); front row (L–R) Stuart Crowther, Kate Dolan, Lottie Finklaire, Edward Bluemel, Megan Pemberton, Rhianna Compton

Additional bursaries were also presented: The Clothworkers’ Laurence Olivier Bursary was awarded to Matt Jessup of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School; the Behrens Foundation Bursary went to Stuart Crowther from The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Hannah Morrish from Drama Centre London and Celeste Veazey of Rose Bruford; the Carmen Silvera Bursary was awarded to Jordon Kemp from Drama Centre London.

The winning students were presented with their bursaries by Lee Menzies in June. Speaking at the ceremony, Menzies said: ‘The standard of applicants this year was, once again, extremely high making the selection process very difficult. With the erosion of educational funding nationally, the support we are able to offer students through the Olivier Bursaries is needed more than ever.

‘We are extremely grateful to all our donors and, for the first time this year, the Clothworkers’ Foundation for the significant amount of money they have pledged for the next five years in support of these objectives via the Clothworkers’ Laurence Olivier Bursary. Financial support of this kind, via all the bursaries, allows the recipient to continue their studies with a small financial cushion.’

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

RCS launch UK’s first deaf theatre skills course

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) has launched a new series of workshops for the deaf with Solar Bear Theatre Company. The RCS held a pilot course earlier this year.

Gerry Ramage, artistic director of Solar Bear, described Deaf Theatre Skills at the RCS as a, ‘new and ground-breaking programme.’ He said the new course, ‘takes us a step closer to create Britain’s first acting degree for deaf actors.’

Seven Scottish students have been awarded with Diamond Jubilee scholarships to study the 32-week programme. Diamond Jubilee scholar, Bea Websterfrom, said: ‘I enjoyed the summer course so much, it was a fantastic opportunity to work among deaf peers and be taught by tutors in a more visual way. I really can’t wait for forthcoming classes and what it will bring me. I feel more confident in my acting skills as a result.’

The course is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, offering conservatoire-level training to young deaf actors. The training will provide students with a more formal way to enter the acting industry.

Vice principal of RCS, Maggie Kinloch, said: ‘Together with Solar Bear’s Deaf Youth Theatre (DYT) we are launching this unrivalled conservatoire-style training programme for talented young deaf actors. Our shared passion for this work means that together we can make a difference to the diversity of Scotland’s community of actors, thereby enriching the talent pool.’

For more information visit http://rcs.ac.uk/shortcourses/dramaadults/weeklyclasses/deaftheatre.html