Thirteen gifted students from drama schools across the UK have been awarded with £55,500 worth of bursaries by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) in order to help them complete their training. Previous bursary winners include Patterson Joseph, Daniel Rigby, Vinette Robinson, Bryony Hannah and Michael Sheen.
Established by SOLT in 1987 in honour of the 80th birthday of Lord Olivier, the Laurence Olivier bursaries are intended to provide financial relief to exceptional students entering their final year of drama school who are also facing financial difficulties in continuing their studies. The rigorous nature of acting courses means it is often impossible for students to factor in paid work while training. The aim of the bursaries is to remove some of this burden from the students.
Every year, the principals of selected drama schools submit two nominations each for the bursary. These nominees are then auditioned on a West End stage and interviewed in front of a panel of theatre industry professionals chaired by leading West End producer Lee Menzies.
While presenting the 2012 recipients with their bursaries on Thursday 21 June, SOLT President Mark Rubinsteinsaid: “Following a highly competitive audition process and a remarkable display of ability our thirteen 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.”
Laurence Olivier bursaries range from £1,000 to a maximum of £7,500 and are given at the discretion of the judges. Other organisations and individuals award their own bursaries in conjunction with the Society’s scheme.
The 2012 bursaries are awarded as follows:
• Laurence Olivier Bursaries: Lydea Perkins (Academy of Live and Recorded Arts), Saul Matlock (Central School of Speech and Drama), Eva-Jane Willis (Drama Centre), Ken Nwosu (Drama Centre), Nathalie Wain (East 15), Jessica Madsen (Guildhall School of Music and Drama), Jocasta Henry-Bray (Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts) Francesca Zoutewelle (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and Heledd Gwynn (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
• Carmen Silvera Bursary (given by agent Barry Burnett in memory of the late actress Carmen Silvera): Stefan Adegbola (Guildhall School of Music and Drama)
• Behrens Foundation Bursary (Established by Michael Behrens, a leading City of London merchant banker, the Behrens Foundation provides a considerable annual support for a range of the performing arts, including theatre): James Reid (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art), Tafline Steen (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), Sarah Hinds (East 15)