Over 1,000 young people attend TheatreCraft 2014

Vicky Featherstone with TheatreCraft volunteers (Credit: Helen Murray)

Vicky Featherstone with TheatreCraft volunteers (Credit: Helen Murray)

Teaching Drama visited TheatreCraft, the backstage theatre careers fair, on 17 October. The one-day event, aimed at young people aged 16-25, had more than 1,000 visitors in attendance at the Royal Opera House.

The event was opened with a speech from the Royal Court’s artistic director Vicky Featherstone. She said it was ‘such an honour’ to address the visitors to TheatreCraft. She described it as ‘an amazing moment’ that young people had gathered to pursue and research careers in backstage theatre.

Featherstone said in her opening speech: ‘I truly believe theatre in its wider sense has something in it for absolutely everyone and TheatreCraft will allow you to explore this. There are so many possibilities. Today is an amazing opportunity to come together and learn about your future. Theatre is all about people and their shared experiences. British theatre needs you.’

The day itself offered participants the chance to take part in over 70 workshops on offer in everything from theatre marketing to wig making. Over 50 exhibitors were on hand to talk to in the marketplace, highlighting education and industry opportunities throughout the country in the backstage sector. There were also 39 industry experts available for one-to-one advice sessions.

If you missed out on this year’s event, keep up to date with developments for 2015’s TheatreCraft on their website, www.theatrecraft.org.

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

Free West End performances in Trafalgar Square from West End LIVE

West End LIVE, a free annual event, returns in June with performances of leading theatre productions in the West End performed live in Trafalgar Square. In 2012, the West End LIVE weekend saw over 500,000 visitors attend. The two-day festival is run by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), Westminster City Council and Mastercard.

Performances at this year’s event will include a mix of West End favourites and newcomers, including Billy Elliot the Musical, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Matilda The Musical, The Sound Of Music, Top Hat, The Bodyguard, A Chorus Line, Once: A New Musical and many more.

West End LIVE, now in its ninth year, was proposed by deputy leader of Westminster City Council Robert Davis to support and rejuvenate the West End, and to showcase the entertainment available in the area. Of the visitors to last year’s event, 85% said that it would be likely that they would attend a West End show having seen the performances as part of West End LIVE.

Councillor Robert Davis said of this year’s event: ‘This will be the largest West End LIVE we have ever produced with more shows taking part than ever before. From humble beginnings in Leicester Square nine years ago, our event now attracts hundreds of thousands of people. We cannot wait to get the weekend started and showcase exactly what the West End of London has to offer – the best art, musicals and theatre in the world.’

West End LIVE takes place on 22-23 June 2013, for more information visit www.westendlive.co.uk.

Line up for Kids Week 2013 revealed

kids-week-logoThe West End shows taking part in Kids Week 2013 have been revealed. Throughout August, young people will be able to attend performances, workshops and free activities as part of Kids Week – an initiative run by Official London Theatre and the Society of London Theatre.

The Kids Week scheme, now in its 16th year, offers free tickets to children aged under 16 for every adult ticket purchased. There is a range of 34 productions available to see, including Olivier Award winning productions of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, A Chorus Line, Top Hat and Matilda The Musical.

Long-running musicals also feature, with free tickets for children available for Billy Elliot the Musical, Les Misérables, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, West Side Story, We Will Rock You and Wicked.

In 2012, Kids Week won Best Cultural Attraction at the London Lifestyle Awards, beating out  The London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe and London Zoo to the prize.

Kids Week 2013 runs from 1 to 31 August. Tickets go on sale on 18 June. For more information, visit www.kidsweek.co.uk.

Mousetrap win award for charity work

Mousetrap Theatre Projects has been awarded with the Sandford Award for Heritage Education – a first for any UK theatre organisation. The Sanford Award honours organisations for quality and excellence in their educational services and facilities at a heritage site – a prize which, until this year, had not been won by a theatre organisation. Previous winners have included the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle.

Mousetrap specialise in providing young people with access to theatre performances in London. They work with children from disadvantaged areas and backgrounds, as well as children who have special needs and learning difficulties.

Director of Mousetrap, Susan Whiddington said: ‘We believe that theatre is a significant contributor to Britain’s cultural heritage and we are thrilled to be recognised for our part in bringing theatre to young people who would otherwise not have access to it.’

The theatre charity won for their overall work, but more specifically for their StageSeen programme: a theatre day which sees the company work with hard of hearing or deaf young people. The day includes participants taking part in a workshop with a deaf theatre facilitator, as well as providing the attendees with a BSL interpreted or captioned matinee performance of a production such as Billy Elliot.

Sandford Award judge Adam Clarke said: ‘Mousetrap’s work with hard to reach and seldom heard young people incorporates practice that could, and perhaps should, be transferred to all organisations and properties that deliver schools’ programmes. In enabling access to the West End stage, children are given access to a magical world that enables them to learn, create, socialise and grow.’

Chief executive of the Society of London Theatre, Julian Bird, offered his congratulations to Mousetrap, an organisation which they provided support to over the past six years: ‘To be the first theatre education organisation to be awarded a Sandford Award is an incredible accolade. I would like to congratulate Mousetrap for its instrumental work in introducing young people to the magic of theatre, irrespective of their cultural, social or economic background.’

www.mousetrap.org.uk