The Stage Scholarships 2014: Expressions Academy of Performing Arts

Kray Fulton-Smith and Alistair Holland, The Stage Expressions Scholarship winners 2013. Photo: Stephanie Methven

This will be the sixth time that the Expressions Academy of Performing Arts has been a partner in The Stage Scholarships scheme and the school is continuing its generosity in 2014 with two awards on offer, each worth £23,400 (a grand total of £46,800).

Named after Expressions patrons, actors Samantha Womack and Ben Richards, these scholarships could be your chance to study musical theatre for three years full-time and get all your fees covered at one of the leading colleges in the UK.

Located in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, the Expressions Academy has been a performing arts school for 25 years and a full-time establishment for a decade. Principal Maxine Glasby says she and her colleagues aim to provide first-class training in a supportive and state-of-the-art environment. Students are taught that human qualities and the ability to work in a team are just as important as the talent to sing, dance and act.

“We keep our groups small and provide hands-on, individual tuition,” adds Glasby, “we want to nurture the students and ensure they have the qualities to fit into any ensemble. It is important that they are nice, level-headed people – no one wants to hire divas.”

One of the reasons Glasby was keen to start a full-time school 10 years ago was that she knew parents were concerned about sending their children down to London at as young an age as 16 (the scholarship is for students between 16 and 25 years old). What she is particularly proud of is that the training, provided by acting industry professionals, is on an equal level to the standard available in the capital.

“I wanted the same standard of teaching as the London colleges and that is what we have achieved. Top class professionals who are still working in the industry are eager to teach here. We want our students to be the best they can be.”

While the focus is on intense training that produces all-round, triple-threat performers, Glasby is quick to point out that the students’ happiness is integral to them thriving at the academy: “If they’re happy when they’re training, they give their best, it’s like being part of a big family.”

Kray Fulton-Smith, winner of one of the 2014 scholarships, found out about the scheme when he attended 2013’s Move It/Perform events at London’s Olympia (Expressions students will also be performing on the main stage this year – see pages 27-31). He admits that he hadn’t really considered training outside London before: “I was so London-based that I hadn’t really heard about Expressions until I was at Move It. I was impressed that a school had such a high standard outside of London”.

The three-year musical theatre diploma course culminates in level 4-6 qualifications with Trinity Guildhall and is accredited by the Council for Dance Education and Training and the International Dance Teachers Association. The academy has recently become partners with the University of Derby and Buxton and Leek College and also has a sixth form college offering the Btec level 3 extended diplomas.

All those attending Expressions can use the school’s excellent facilities, including an in-house theatre that allows students to try out performing in different settings. And not only is Mansfield a peaceful and affordable place to live (only 14 miles from the bright lights of Nottingham) it boasts the charming 600-seat Palace Theatre that the academy uses in addition to a number of other nearby venues. Annual showcases are also held in London.

Glasby says all the previous scholarship winners have been great ambassadors for Expressions and have thrived at the academy. She also says that the association with The Stage has attracted a different calibre of applicant who are clearly serious about the route they want to take.

So if you are level-headed, passionate about your craft and determined to stick to your chosen profession, this could be a fantastic opportunity. Click here to find out how to apply.