Students from drama schools across the UK have been awarded £77,500 worth of bursaries by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) in order to help them complete their training.
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. 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. Funds donated by The Behrens Foundation, The Casting Directors’ Guild and by leading London theatrical agent Barry Burnett are also given in conjunction with the 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.
Nicky Griffiths was announced as the recipient of the Society of London Theatre Bursary for Musical Theatre Dancers. Chosen by Dancers’ Career Development, Nicky has been a professional dancer for 15 years and has appeared on the West End in Jersey Boys, The Bodyguard and Mamma Mia! amongst many other musical theatre productions. The bursary will go towards Nicky's retraining as a choreographer and movement director.
Each year, Principals from drama schools across the United Kingdom submit their 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 West End producer and Chair of the Laurence Olivier Bursaries Committee, Lee Menzies. This year’s auditions took place at St Martin’s Theatre.
Previous bursary winners have included Denise Gough, Bryony Hannah, Paterson Joseph, Ewan McGregor, Daniel Rigby, Vinette Robinson, Juma Sharkah, Michaela Coel and Michael Sheen.
Lee Menzies, Chair of the Olivier Bursaries Committee, said:
“Each year we are astounded by the talent and dedication of the recipients of the bursaries – individuals who, despite financial hardship, are pushing forward to realise their dreams and their potential. Many have made huge sacrifices to continue their studies and without assistance we risk losing gifted performers to other industries. Drama courses are intense and require a huge amount of hard work; these bursaries give the performers the freedom to focus on their studies without placing further financial pressures on them. We are immensely grateful to our partners and donors and welcome new supporters to help continue to grow this much needed and valued scheme.”
The 2017 bursaries are awarded as follows:
Laurence Olivier Bursaries:
George Readshaw - Bristol Old Vic
Jake Ashton Nelson - Manchester School of Theatre
Damian Schedler Cruz - Cygnet Theatre
Omar Ahmed - Arts Educational Schools
Henry Whittaker - Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Laura Barnard - Trinity Laban Conservatoire
Romario Simpson - Academy of Live & Recorded Arts
Andrew Buzzeo - Drama Centre at Central Saint Martins
Olivia Lee - Guildford School of Acting
Zachary Wyatt - Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Alexandra Meyrick - Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts
Rosalind Lailey- Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Robbie Noonan - The Musical Theatre Academy
The Mary Selway Bursary and Laurence Olivier Bursary:
Thomas Davison - Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
The Clothworkers’ Laurence Olivier Bursary:
Precious Mustapha - East 15 Acting School
The Behrens Foundation Bursary:
Hugo von Fragstein - Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Jesse Jones - East 15 Acting School
Tara Divina Gulrajani - Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
Asa Haynes - Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
The Doreen Jones Bursary 2017:
Shaniqua Okwok - The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
The Carmen Silvera Bursary:
Ellie Clayton -The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Society of London Theatre Bursary for Musical Theatre Dancers: