Society of London Theatre Announces Laurence Olivier Bursaries 2016

Society of London Theatre Announces Laurence Olivier Bursaries 2016

SOLT Bursary Winners 2016

19 students from drama schools across the UK were today awarded £67,500 worth of bursaries by Society of London Theatre (SOLT) in order to help them complete their training. The Clothworkers’ Foundation bursary is worth a total of £37,500 over five years with £7,500 awarded to a student annually as part of the Laurence Olivier Bursaries scheme.

Established by SOLT in 1987, in honour of the 80th birthday of Lord Olivier, the Laurence Olivier Bursaries aim to provide financial support to exceptional students. To be eligible students must be entering their final year of drama school and also facing financial difficulties in continuing their studies.

The rigorous nature of acting courses means it is often impossible for students to undertake paid employment while training and the aim of the bursaries is to remove some of this financial burden.

Additionally, Nick Searle was announced on Thursday as the recipient of the inaugural Society of London Theatre Bursary for Musical Theatre Dancers. Chosen by Dancers’ Career Development, Nick Searle has performed in the West End for 25 years after graduating from Laine Theatre Arts in 1989.The bursary, worth £5,000, will enable Nick to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Sound Engineering and pursue a new career as a music and audio producer.

Previous bursary winners have included Bryony Hannah, Paterson Joseph, Ewan McGregor, Daniel Rigby, Vinette Robinson, Juma Sharkah, Michaela Coel and Michael Sheen.

Michaela Cole, actor and recipient of a bursary in 2011, said:

"The Laurence Olivier Bursary was invaluable to my time studying. It allowed me to concentrate on art and developing my craft without being torn in two by working a night shift somewhere. Also I couldn't have asked for a more encouraging and pleasant first audition scenario!"

Each year, the Principals of 20 drama schools from across the United Kingdom submit two nominations for the bursaries scheme. These nominees are then auditioned on a West End stage and interviewed by a panel of theatre industry professionals led by leading West End producer and Chair of the Olivier Bursaries Committee Lee Menzies. This year’s auditions took place at The St Martins Theatre.

Lee Menzies, Chair of the Olivier Bursaries Committee, said:

"I think the strongest way to illustrate the profound importance of the bursaries is to quote the students themselves demonstrating the struggle they have to support themselves through their studies. One wrote: “Last week I managed to shop around at Tesco and Sainsbury’s and managed to just spend £6 on food for the week, so I really try to budget well“,  while another said: “I am currently at a point where I am having to choose between buying food and paying for text books”

Funds awarded through the bursaries scheme can range from £500 to a maximum of £7,500 and are given at the discretion of the judges. Funds donated by The Behrens Foundation, The Casting Directors’ Guild and by leading London theatrical agent Barry Burnett are given in conjunction with the scheme.

The 2016 bursaries are awarded as follows:

Laurence Olivier Bursaries:

Sínead Sharkey (Royal Conservatoire Of Scotland)
Nicholas Ralph (Royal Conservatoire Of Scotland)
Georgia Richardson (The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts Ltd)
Ross White (Guildford School of Acting)
Khalid Daley (Birmingham School of Acting)
Lauren Waine (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts)
Grace Saif (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art)
Rakhee Sharma (Royal Central School of Speech & Drama)
Harley Viveash (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School)
Paisley Fay Jackson (East 15 Acting School)
Rebecca Tebbett (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art)
Nathan Carter-Dale (Manchester School of Theatre)
Luke Westlake (Arts Educational Schools, London)

The Clothworkers’ Laurence Olivier Bursary:

Luke Thallon (Guildhall School of Music and Drama)

The Behrens Foundation Bursary:

Patrick Elue (Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama)
Gaby French (Academy of Live & Recorded Arts)
Jack Taylor (Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts)

Carmen Silvera Bursary:

Emma Lucia (Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts)

Mary Selway Bursary:

Ruthxjiah Bellenea (Arts Educational Schools, London)
Patrick Elue (Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama)

Society of London Theatre Bursary for Musical Theatre Dancers:

Nick Searle

Date Published: 24 June 2016
  • Images are available of recipients at the awards presentation.  
  • Clothworkers’ Company & Foundation wasfounded by Royal Charter in 1528, The Clothworkers’ Company existed historically to protect its members and promote the craft of cloth-finishing in the City of London.

    Almost 500 years later, although they continue to value their past, their traditions and their heritage, The Clothworkers’ Company also believes it should make a contribution to society, which it does primarily through the Clothworkers’ Foundation.

    The Clothworkers' Foundation, an independent grant-making trust, was set up by The Clothworkers' Company in 1977. Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than £100m in grants. It awards capital grants to UK not-for-profit organisations which aim to improve the lives of people and communities, particularly those facing disadvantage. In addition, the Foundation has a small number of proactive grant programmes including the new five year £1.25m Dramatic Arts initiative.

    The Clothworkers' Foundation proactive grants programme initiatives fund specific fields in which they aim to make a significant impact over a period of time (usually five years). The themes and priorities change periodically. As the name suggests, all potential grant recipients are selected proactively and unsolicited applications are not accepted.   

    For more information on The Clothworkers’ Foundation go to
  • The Behrens Foundation was established by Michael Behrens, a leading City of London merchant banker and provides considerable annual support for a range of the performing arts, including theatre.

  • The Carmen Silvera Bursary, awarded in memory of the late stage and television actress, is donated by leading London theatrical agent Barry Burnett.

  • The Mary Selway Bursary is donated by The Casting Directors’ Guild.
  •  Society of London Theatre is the not-for-profit organisation which provides a collective voice for the theatre owners, producers and managers of all the major commercial and grant-aided theatres across London. As well as protecting the interests of all its member theatres, SOLT promotes theatregoing through activities including the Olivier Awards with MasterCard, the TKTS ticket booth, the Official London Theatre website and its printed fortnightly listings guide, Theatre Tokens and the popular annual celebration West End LIVE in association with MasterCard. It also administers the audience development initiatives Kids Week and Get Into London Theatre, and supports a number of theatrical charities including Stage One and Mousetrap Theatre Projects


  • Society of London Theatre is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, whose registered office is at 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET, Company No 527227.

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Society of London Theatre is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, whose registered office is at 32 Rose Street, London, WC2E 9ET, Company No 527227.