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Meet The Stage Scholarship winners 2018

Andrew Parfitt and Tori Ryan. Photo: Alex Brenner

Eighty aspiring performers, from ages 11 to 26, have been granted awards to attend training courses across the country as part of The Stage Scholarships 2018.

The awards, organised by The Stage and 12 partner schools and colleges, offer a variety of scholarships that total more than £300,000 worth of tuition.

The courses covered range from musical theatre summer schemes, to places at prestigious full-time training academies, to degree-level qualifications at established drama schools.

Previous winners [1] have gone on to perform across the industry in West End musicals, in Olivier award-winning plays, in TV series, and more.

In this photo special, we introduce some of the talented students offered scholarships this year as they join us for a professional photoshoot to celebrate their achievements.

Click here to watch a video of the day [2]


Meghan Smith, Lisa Gilroy

Fourth Monkey Actor Training Company

Meghan Smith and Lisa Gilroy. Photo: Alex Brenner
Meghan Smith and Lisa Gilroy. Photo: Alex Brenner

Two students have been given awards to attend London-based drama school Fourth Monkey Actor Training Compan [3]y as part of The Stage Scholarships 2018.

Meghan Smith, 22, from Cardiff, and Lisa Gilroy, 25, from Edinburgh have both been awarded 50% scholarships for Fourth Monkey’s two-year accelerated actor-training programme. Both have already completed the school’s one-year foundation course.

“I auditioned for drama school when I was 18 and didn’t get in, then again at 19, 20, and 21,” says Smith. “For a long time I tried to squeeze into boxes that I didn’t fit into. But then I found Fourth Monkey and it felt so right. I had finally found a place where the training suited me.”

“It’s very intense, but I love it,” she says of the school’s physically focused approach to training. “It’s all about body awareness and understanding how you move, about being aware of the tensions you have in your body, and how they differ from character to character.”

Gilroy didn’t start acting until she was 22. “I did an English literature degree, then I got on to a costume course at an art school,” she explains. “Then I did my first play, Thebans with Scottish Youth Theatre, because I’d always wanted to give it a go. Then I had an epiphany and I realised I really wanted to be an actor.”

“It wasn’t just about the money,” she says of being awarded the scholarship. “Having only really acted for three years, for someone to have the confidence in me to pay for a year of training is huge.”

Andrew Parfitt, Tori Ryan

Italia Conti Academy of Performing Arts

Andrew Parfitt and Tori Ryan. Photo: Alex Brenner
Andrew Parfitt and Tori Ryan. Photo: Alex Brenner

Two applicants have received scholarships to attend Italia Conti Academy of Performing Arts [4]. Combined, the awards are worth more than £95,000.

Andrew Parfitt, 12, from Hemel Hempstead, has received a half scholarship to attend the school.

“It’s really fun,” he says of his time at Italia Conti. “I love all the teachers and all the lessons. You really want to go when you get up in the morning, because it’s so much fun.”

“If I didn’t get the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to go,” he adds. “I was at home when I found out. I cried so much. I was so happy.”

Tori Ryan, 11, from east London, has received a full scholarship to the London-based school. Ryan has already appeared on stage multiple times: she was in the West End production of Matilda, and in the Switzerland tour of The Lion King.

“I started going to a dance school when I was three,” she remembers. “It was only when I was five that it really kicked in and I decided I really wanted to be a performer. I just like people watching me having a smile on their face. When you’re dancing, you can just spread your emotions through your body. I love it.”

“I was on the train when my mum told me about the scholarship,” she adds. “It was so cool. I was crying. Mum has been through everything with me. She’s taken me to all my auditions and all my dance classes. She’s so supportive.”

Noah Cochrane

Youth Music Theatre UK

Noah Cochrane. Photo: Alex Brenner
Noah Cochrane. Photo: Alex Brenner

Noah Cochrane, 13, from Portadown, County Armagh, won The Stage Scholarship to attend Youth Music Theatre UK [5]’s prestigious summer school in Northern Ireland this summer, an award worth £1,900.

Cochrane, who took on a lead role in the school’s production of Paperboy at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre in July, first became interested in musical theatre when he was just three.

“I wouldn’t have been able to take part without the scholarship,” he says. “It really helped me and my family, and it’s honestly the best thing that’s happened to me so far. So many opportunities have come from it, and I’ve made so many friends for life.”

“I feel like when I’m on stage I’m a totally different person,” he continues. “I’ve had trouble with bullies and name-calling at school before because of my interests in musical theatre, but now, because they’ve seen what you can do with it, all the people that bullied me are talking to me about it, and actually want to get involved too. It’s mental.”

Sally Rudd, Amy Creed

Read College

Sally Rudd and Amy Creed. Photo: Alex Brenner
Sally Rudd and Amy Creed. Photo: Alex Brenner

Two students have been awarded 50% scholarships to attend Read College [6]. The awards are worth a combined total of £7,575, as part of The Stage Scholarships.

Sally Rudd, 19, from Swindon, is attending Read College’s foundation course in acting. “I’ve always liked singing and music, which I thought meant I wanted to do musical theatre,” Rudd says. “But

in March I realised that my true passion is definitely acting. That’s always been what’s driven me really.”

“I had no idea,” she says of winning the scholarship. “I was so happy. It would have been a lot harder to attend without it. It’s been a massive help, and a massive confidence boost as well, because it means someone else believes in me too.”

Amy Creed, 21, from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, is on the Reading-based school’s foundation musical theatre course.

“I was so shocked to find out I’d been awarded the scholarship,” she recalls. “I’ve always found it hard to believe in myself, and it gave me such a confidence boost.”

“I wasn’t sure what to expect from Read College, but I’m enjoying it so much,” she continues. “We are always trying new things and it’s intense and hard at times, but I’m being pushed and I enjoy that. I can feel improvements already.”

Josh Richardson, Victoria Beavis, Hannah Howland

Pauline Quirke Academy Studios

Josh Richardson, Victoria Beavis and Hannah Howland. Photo: Alex Brenner
Josh Richardson, Victoria Beavis and Hannah Howland. Photo: Alex Brenner

Three students have been awarded scholarships to attend Pauline Quirke Academy [7] in the London-based school’s inaugural year as a full-time performing arts establishment.

Josh Richardson, Victoria Beavis and Hannah Howland have been awarded funding for the academy’s two-year diploma in performing arts, worth a combined £25,650.

“I was really happy when I got the scholarship, because it would have been really difficult to go if I hadn’t,” says Richardson, 16, from Hull. “I was mainly happy for my parents. They’ve come to every show I’ve been in. They’ve helped me so much. They’re my biggest fans.”

Beavis, 16, from St Albans, started performing when she was 11. “I just love the feeling of being on stage,” she says. “Having everyone around you, all performing, with the lights and the energy and the rush of it. I just love it.”

Howland, a 16-year-old hailing from Falkirk, already has some impressive acting experience under her belt. She played Veruca Salt in the West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for 18 months.

“I was really happy when I got the scholarship,” she says. “I love it at Pauline Quirke because the environment is so happy and positive, and I’ve made such great friends. My dream is to win an Oscar. I know it’s a really big goal, but I’m prepared to work my backside off to get there.”

Taziva-Faye Katsande

Sylvia Young Theatre School

Taziva-Faye Katsande. Photo: Alex Brenner
Taziva-Faye Katsande. Photo: Alex Brenner

Taziva-Faye Katsande, an aspiring 11-year-old performer from Jersey, has been awarded The Stage Scholarship to attend Sylvia Young Theatre School [8]. The award, which includes full tuition at the London-based performing arts school, is worth more than £40,000.

Katsande is no stranger to the stage. She landed a role in the West End production of Matilda, and has been performing in it this year, a commitment that involved moving from her Channel Island home to London.

“When my auntie told me I’d got into Matilda, I was so happy I just started screaming,” she remembers. “For a job well done, she bought me a cupcake.”

“When I grow up, I want to meet other people to help me make the world a better place,” she continues. “I’d like to show young people who want to be singing and dancing on stage that they can do it too.”

Lauren Kirby, Zain Saddique

Arts Ed

Lauren Kirby and Zain Saddique. Photo: Alex Brenner
Lauren Kirby and Zain Saddique. Photo: Alex Brenner

More than 30 applicants have received scholarships to attend London’s Arts Ed [9] college in the first year the educational establishment has participated in the scheme. These scholarships, worth a total of £13,209, cover a range of courses, from skills academies to summer schools.

Lauren Kirby, 15, from Maidstone, Kent, received a scholarship to attend both Arts Ed’s Skills Academy, and its West End Summer School programme. “I love it,” she says.

“I have to get up at 6am every Saturday, but it’s definitely worth it.”

“I want to do a bit of everything,” she says of her industry ambitions. “I’d like to be in a musical on Broadway or in the West End. I’d like to work on a cruise ship. I’d like to go on tour. I want to try everything.”

Zain Saddique, 26, from Gloucester, has received a full scholarship for the intensive Excelerate acting course. It marks a change of career for Saddique, who worked in marketing

until earlier this year. “I kind of fell into marketing after university,” she explains.

“It was never an intention of mine and acting has always been at the back of my head.”

“Then, at the start of this year, I had an accident and had to spend some time in hospital,” she continues. “I had a lot of time to re-evaluate things, and I realised I needed to pursue acting because it’s what I really love.”

“I feel like I have neglected part of myself for a few years, like I paused my life at 21,” she adds. “This acting course has changed me. I’m way happier now, and way more confident.

And, realistically, I couldn’t have done it without the scholarship.”

Madelaine Ainscough, Eloise Kemlo, Poppy Bowness

Razzamataz

Madelaine Ainscough, Eloise Kemlo and Poppy Bowness. Photo: Alex Brenner
Madelaine Ainscough, Eloise Kemlo and Poppy Bowness. Photo: Alex Brenner

Twenty-four applicants have received awards to attend Razzamataz Theatre Schools [10] across the country as part of The Stage Scholarships 2018, covering a total cost of £20,520.

Madelaine Ainscough, 14, has received a scholarship to attend a Razzamatz course in Sheffield. “I’ve loved singing since I was really young,” she says. “I never realised that I would like performing on stage because I’m quite a nervous person. But slowly I started to enjoy it more, then Razzamataz brought me out of my shell and taught me to love it.”

“I’ve made a lot of my best friends there,” she adds. “We all get along because we’ve all got the same interests. I’m never nervous there.”

Eloise Kemlo, 15, was awarded a scholarship to attend a Razzamataz course in Medway, Kent. “I go to school as normal, then on Wednesday evenings I go to Razzamataz as part of a competition squad,” she says. “Then on Saturdays I go from 11am to 7.30pm. Sometimes we have rehearsals on Sundays, too.”

“When I got my scholarship, I was over the moon,” she adds. “It was great because it meant that someone else believed that I could do it.”

Poppy Bowness, 17, has been awarded a scholarship to attend a Razzamataz course in her home town of Newbury, Berkshire.

“I do my A levels during the week, then Razzamataz at the weekend for four hours every Saturday,” she explains. “I’m 100% focused on what I need to do to improve, because I’m really passionate about performing.

“This is my second year with Razzamataz,” she adds. “I joined last year with my friend, and it was really welcoming. You do a lot and learn a lot, but the atmosphere is quite relaxed. You can just put yourself out there and enjoy it.”

Yadel Gebeyehu

Rose Bruford College

Yadel Gebeyehu. Photo: Alex Brenner
Yadel Gebeyehu. Photo: Alex Brenner

Yadel Gebeyehu, an Ethiopian-born 19-year-old living in Leicester, has received The Stage Scholarship to attend Rose Bruford College [11].

“I’m really happy that I was chosen,” says Gebeyehu. “When I saw I’d got in, and that I’d got The Stage Scholarship too, I went around the house screaming. I was going crazy. For someone else to recognise me meant a lot, because it encouraged me to continue acting.”

Gebeyehu is on the prestigious Kent college’s foundation acting course, an intensive, 20-week programme worth £8,250.

“I was about six when I knew I wanted to be an actor,” he continues. “I was really into it, but my dad didn’t want me to pursue it. He wanted me to follow his footsteps into business, but he’s been more supportive since I got the scholarship. This is what I want to do, and this is what makes me happy, and he gets that now.”

Xenoa Campbell-Ledgister

Emil Dale Academy

Xenoa Campbell-Ledgister. Photo: Alex Brenner
Xenoa Campbell-Ledgister. Photo: Alex Brenner

Five students have received scholarships to attend Emil Dale Academy [12], covering a combined cost of £16,500.

Ben Wilby, Luke Bassett and Laura Dawkes have all been granted places on the Hertfordshire school’s intensive two-year musical theatre course, while Joshua Price and Xenoa Campbell-Ledgister have been given awards to attend the one-year foundation course in musical theatre.

“I didn’t understand what the scholarship meant at first,” says Campbell-Ledgister, 17, from Aberdeenshire. “I was very confused.”

“Then I saw it all on The Stage website, and I remembered how, whenever I’d get the train down to London to visit family, my mum would hand me a copy of this paper called The Stage. Then I realised, I’m doing this scholarship with the backing of this paper, and I just thought it was so cool.”

“We do dancing, singing and acting,” she says of her studies at Emil Dale. “It’s very triple threat. We do half an hour of cardio every morning as well. It’s intense, and really puts you into a mindset of working hard and pushing yourself. Even though you sometimes think it’s going to kill you, it’s definitely worth it. It’s only been a term, but I can already see the improvement.”

Samuel Craig

Liverpool Theatre School

Samuel Craig. Photo: Alex Brenner
Samuel Craig. Photo: Alex Brenner

Samuel Craig, a 20-year-old student from Manchester, has been awarded The Stage Scholarship to attend Liverpool Theatre School [13]’s three-year diploma in professional acting, a course that ordinarily costs £31,500 across the three years.

Craig has performed since the age of nine, when he was a member of Footlights, a Saturday stage school in Manchester. It was at the audition day for Liverpool Theatre School, during a workshop run by the college’s head of acting Alan Pattison, that he fully grasped what acting involved.

“It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” he remembers. “The way Alan spoke about acting, how in-depth he went, it really opened my eyes and showed me how little I knew. I never realised how profound acting is.”

“Now, when it comes to acting, I have no shame,” he says. “I will get up on stage and do anything. Whatever is necessary for the character, whatever is necessary for the scene, whatever the writer calls for.”

“I want to be able to create an entire life on stage,” he continues. “I want to become someone else. I want to be completely transformed. I want to create life.”

“There is no way I’d have been able to train the way I’m training now without it,” he says of The Stage Scholarship. “The fact that they thought I was worthy of it is so humbling. I need to show them that I deserve it, that I have what it takes.”

Hannah Hutchins, Billy Vale

Spirit Young Performers Company

Hannah Hutchins and Billy Vale. Photo: Alex Brenner
Hannah Hutchins and Billy Vale. Photo: Alex Brenner

Eight students have been awarded £12,000 worth of scholarships to train at Spirit Young Performers Company [14], a London-based organisation offering “elite-level training” in dance and musical theatre.

Billy Vale, a 16-year-old performer from Studley, Warwickshire, has been awarded a 40% scholarship.

“I was in the kitchen with my mum when the email came through,” he remembers. “We were both over the moon. It meant I had been recognised for my commitment to performing, and it made me want to fulfil my potential.”

“The first time I really sang was at my brother’s funeral,” he explains. “I was eight, he was 14, and had been battling cancer for seven years. When he passed away, I sang the Lord’s Prayer at his funeral, and that’s where it all started.”

“I just get such a buzz on stage, and I’ve gained a lot of self-confidence over the years,” he continues. “One day, I want to perform on a West End stage, and have people leave thinking it was amazing. I just want to make people’s lives full of entertainment.”

Hannah Hutchins, a 13-year-old from Bromley, has been awarded a 20% scholarship. She already has plenty of experience – she was in both Matilda and Annie in the West End.

“I did 144 performances of Matilda,” she says. “It was the best experience. I was six when I started dancing, and I’ve loved performing ever since. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

Six other students have also been awarded funding through The Stage Scholarships. Daniel Wright, Layla Armstrong-Hughes and Imaan Guthrie have won scholarships to participate in Spirit’s Performers Company, while Dominique Sands, Lola Slavnich and Nadia Djilali have been awarded scholarships to attend the Dance Company.


Photos: Alex Brenner
Video: Phil Matthews
Scholarships editor: Paul Vale
Interviews: Fergus Morgan


The full list of The Stage Scholarships winners

Italia Conti Academy of Performing Arts
Tori Ryan (full scholarship), Andrew Parfitt (half scholarship)

Fourth Monkey Actor Training Company
Lisa Gilroy, Meghan Smith

Youth Music Theatre UK
Noah Cochrane

Read College
Amy Creed, Sally Rudd

Pauline Quirke Academy Studios
Victoria Beavis, Hannah Howland, Josh Richardson

Sylvia Young Theatre School
Taziva-Faye Katsande

Arts Educational Schools, London
Zain Siddique (Excelerate Acting Course), Florentina Devishi and Albi Fenner (Skills Academy Explore MT), Lauren Kirby (Skills Academy Creatives MT), Lillie King (Skills Academy Trainee MT), Eleanor Couch and Olivia Tennyson Hallett (Summer Musical Theatre Audition Technique, 17-plus), Sophie Lowe (Summer from Page to Stage, 7-12 years), Max Magee (Summer Acting Experience, 17-plus), Joseph Canning (Summer Arts Ed Musical Theatre Experience, 17-plus), Nikoo Saeki (Summer Putting on a Musical, 13-16 years), Lauren Kirby (Summer West End Pro, 17-plus), Lucy Cheesman and Eloise Mason (Summer Youth West End Week, 13-16 years), Marlon Farmer, Vita Lewis and Mia Marino (Summer Become a Film Star, 7-12 years), Isabel Grace Mead and Naomi Barnett (Summer Youth Musical Theatre School, 13-16 years), Madison Rhodes, Athina Bezzato and Albi Fenner (Summer Putting on a Musical, 7-12 years), Harry Egerton (Summer from Page to Stage, 12-15 years), Connor King and Keelan Freeman (Summer Musical Theatre School, 16-plus), Megan Brooks (part scholarships in Arts Ed Experience MT), Seren Gladwin and Ellie Grant (part scholarships in West End Week), Paige Nussey and Nick Keogh (part scholarships in West End Week), Erin Douglas (part scholarships in Youth MT School)

Razzamataz
Amber Peach (Marlow), Ciaran Marsh (Dumfries), Danielle Hadaway (Tonbridge), Libby Cole (Durham), Lexie Dunn (Newcastle), Georgie Clark (Derby), Eloise Kemlo (Medway), Erin O’Hara (Maidstone), Poppy Bowness (Newbury), Liam Scobie (Paisley), Georgia Steel (Glasgow North), Olivia Mae Endersby (York), Poppy Fletcher (Torbay), Olivia Wigham (Rickmansworth), Molly Neen (West Cumbria), Scott Lynam (Sutton Coldfield), Lois Donaway (Chester), Madelaine Ainscough (Sheffield), Imogen Rogers (Weymouth), Maddie Cox (Mansfield), Zoe Jordan (Nottingham), Libby Evans (Liverpool South), Sophie Ullyart (Carlisle), Rebecca Silverstone (Barnet)

Rose Bruford College
Yadel Gebeyehu

Liverpool Theatre School
Samuel Craig

Spirit Young Performers Company
Billy Vale, Daniel Wright, Hannah Hutchins, Layla Armstrong-Hughes, Imaan Guthrie, Dominique Sands, Lola Slavnich, Nadia Djilali

Emil Dale Academy
Ben Wilby, Luke Bassett and Laura Dawkes (musical theatre two-year course), Xenoa Campbell-Ledgister and Joshua Price (one-year musical theatre foundation)


To find out details of The Stage Scholarships 2019, buy the January 3 issue of The Stage