The Society of London Theatre, the organisation behind Official London Theatre, has awarded 13 gifted young actors Laurence Olivier Bursaries to help them complete their training.
The bursaries have been awarded annually since 1987 in honour of the late legendary actor’s 80th birthday and are intended to provide financial relief to students at drama schools across the UK who are entering their final year of training and facing financial difficulties in completing their course.
After being nominated by their drama schools, the nominees were auditioned and interviewed by a panel of theatre industry professionals. The exceptional final candidates collected their cheques at a ceremony held at the Society of London Theatre’s headquarters today, four of which received prizes from The Carmen Silvera Bursary and the Behrens Foundation Bursary which are presented in conjunction with the Laurence Olivier Bursaries.
Presenting the bursaries, SOLT President Mark Rubinstein said: ““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.”
In total, the bursaries given out today totaled more than £55,000. Past recipients of the award include Paterson Joseph, Daniel Rigby, Ewan McGregor, Michael Sheen and Bryony Hannah, who this year received her first Olivier Award nomination.
Speaking about being in such good company, bursary winner and current Drama Centre student Eva-Jane Willis said: “It’s amazing, some of them have gone to do such incredible things so it just means that you think, fingers crossed, that you might be one of the people that they might mention one day: ‘Eva Jane Willis once upon a time got this bursary as well’.”
The actress, who, like many of the winners, has student loans from a degree prior to attending drama school, explained why she was so thrilled to be accepting the bursary, saying: “The money in itself is obviously really handy, but more than anything it’s the actual honour of the award that is why everyone wants to go up for it. When I found out I was nominated I was over the moon, but then to actually have won something, I literally screamed the house down when I found out. It’s really nice to know that there are people out there that want to support young actors and that anyone from any background can get into drama school, train and go up for this honour.”
It was a sentiment shared by fellow bursary winner James Reid, who explained that the money would enable him to complete his final year: “Without this I probably wouldn’t have been able to pay my tuition fees for next year without getting a very expensive career development loan, and I’ve already got a loan from my previous degree so it really has made it possible and taken a lot of stress off. I’ll still have to work but it’s made it possible for me to succeed next year and I’m over the moon.”
The 2012 bursaries were awarded as follows:
Laurence Olivier Bursaries:
Lydea Perkins at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts
Saul Matlock at Central School of Speech and Drama
Eva-Jane Willis at Drama Centre
Ken Nwosu at Drama Centre
Nathalie Wain at East 15
Jessica Madsen at Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Jocasta Henry at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
Francesca Zoutewelle at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Heledd Gwynn at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
The Carmen Silvera Bursary (given by agent Barry Burnett in memory of the late actress Carmen Silvera)
Stefan Adegbola at Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Behrens Foundation Bursary
Tafline Steen at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
James Reid at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Sarah Hinds at East 15