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.

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

Kids Week and West End Live make theatre accessible this summer

While this summer looks to be dominated by sport, those with an appetite for theatre won’t be disappointed. It was predicted by theatre bigwigs such as Andrew Lloyd Webber 2012 would see theatre’s struggle against the tide of Olympic tourists. However, there are a couple of initiatives which are making London’s biggest theatre hits more available to everyone.

One scheme which will keep children happy throughout the summer holidays is Kids Week. The project, in its 15th year, will run throughout the whole of August – providing parents and children with a respite from the Olympic Games.

The scheme allows young people under the age of 16 to see a theatre performance in London for free, when attending with a paying adult. Amongst this year’s selection of performances are Billy Elliot the MusicalBlood Brothers, Chicago, War Horse, The Lion King, The Wizard of Oz and many more. Tickets went on sale on 12th June and saw popular show Matilda The Musical sell out within hours.

Young people who have bought a ticket through Kids Week also have the chance to take part in a workshop from their chosen play. Those attending Singin’ in the Rain can opt to have a go at a vocal and dance workshop for free. Visitors to The Woman in Black can participate in an interactive ghostly workshop and many other productions are offering Q&A sessions with Kids Week audiences. For more information about Kids Week, visit www.kidsweek.co.uk. Tickets and workshops are subject to availability, so book soon to avoid disappointment.

However, if your budget is too tight to shell out for full price adult tickets, West End Live are offering a free weekend of London theatre performances for visitors to enjoy. The event, organised by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), will see live showcase performances of London’s biggest theatre shows.

There will be performances from Shrek, Wicked, Ghost The Musical, Stomp and Phantom of the Opera. If you’ve missed out on tickets for Kids Week for shows like Matilda the Musical and Billy Elliot they will also be in attendance. The weekend will also see musical performances take place from acts such as the National Youth Music Theatre and Ghost The Musical star Mark Evans.

West End Live will take place on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July. All performances will take place in Trafalgar Square and entry is free. To find out more, visit www.westendlive.co.uk.

Make sure you make the most of all that the West End has to offer this summer!

Olivier awards search for general public judge

The judges of the Olivier awards will be accompanied by a new addition in 2013. Joining the three professionals on the panel, will be a member of the public.

The Society of London Theatre and The Radio Times are looking for a member of the general public to judge either the main theatre awards, the affliliate awards for smaller scale theatres, or the awards for Opera or Dance.

To apply, entrants must list the plays they have seen in 2011 and write a 150 words review of a production. The deadline for applicants is Tuesday 10 January 2012. Those who are successful will be invited to an interview in Covent Garden in January.

The lucky winner will have to attend all productions which are eligible for the category they will be judging – a mammoth year long task that begins in February 2012. The judge and a guest will also be invited to the awards ceremony in London.

To apply for your chance to be a judge visit www.olivierawards.com/about/panellists