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

TheatreCraft 2011: Beyond the stage

TheatreCraft: Beyond the stage is an event that offers workshops, one-to-one career advice and an exhibition, informing visitors about the many opportunities in off-stage theatre careers.

This year’s event was held at the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera. The day was launched in the auditorium with an impressive backdrop design in place. Visitors were welcomed by designer William Dudley, a 14-time Olivier award nominee, winning seven for his work on plays such as Hitchcock Blonde.

Dudley described his first encounter with theatre design as ‘love at first sight’. He was impressed with the number of students in attendance and encouraged visitors to consider a career in backstage arts, explaining: ‘It’s never boring – it’s a very strange and exciting thing that can take you round the world.’

There was a good selection of workshops on offer, covering a variation of careers, such as stage management, fundraising, development, costume design and even becoming a critic. Teaching Drama attended ‘working with young people’ – an hour long workshop led by Talawa Theatre Company’s participation and education officer, Gail Babb.

It was largely a discussion–based workshop which allowed each participant to introduce themselves and mention any relevant experience they had working with young people. Babb offered us advice on how to find work experience placements, getting the right kind of CRB check and what to consider when approaching an institution with a workshop.

The workshop wasn’t made up of recommended exercises to use with young people – instead it offered a very realistic and knowledgeable insight into working with young people and the hard work and persistence it takes to start working in theatre.

TheatreCraft also houses just under 30 different organisations in its exhibition. Big names like the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and The Stage had stalls, offering visitors the opportunity to liaise with some of the most important companies in the theatre industry.

TheatreCraft is ideal for students looking to go into higher education. There was a strong presence of educational institutions at the marketplace, including representatives from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, East 15 and Regents College London: School of Film, Media and Performance. This gave students the chance to look at some of the more specialised courses available in backstage theatre.

The event also has some relevance for younger students. The RSC, Mousetrap and Ambassador Theatre Group were offering discounted tickets and workshops. The RSC were promoting their scheme The Key, which provides greater access to 16-25 year olds by offering £5 tickets and discounted student coach trips.

Most of the material on offer is relevant to students, rather than teachers – with low price theatre tickets for the under 25’s. However, theatre companies such as Mousetrap run the Teachers Preview Club, a membership offering teachers individual or group tickets at a discounted price.

With impressive names in attendance, speaking so enthusiastically about their careers, TheatreCraft is a great place to become inspired – for your students, or for yourself. Recommended for slightly older students but is still a great chance for younger students to start thinking about the future and gain a realistic idea of what it is like to really work in theatre from some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry.

To find out more about the companies that attended the exhibition visit www.TheatreCraft.org