This year’s winners of The Stage Scholarship at Sharjah Performing Arts Academy in the United Arab Emirates are Stacey Riley and Keenan McFadzean.
Following international auditions, Stacey, aged 33 from Ashford in Middlesex, will start the four-year BA Musical Theatre programme. Keenan, aged 17, from Dubai in the UAE, will join the four-year BA Acting programme. In total, the value of both scholarships is £48,000.
“This scholarship means the world to me,” says Stacey, who currently lives in Singapore, where she has been working as a performer for several years. “I felt that my experience as a full-time performer meant I could learn what I didn’t already know through experience on stage. But those few years showed me the glass ceiling of that limiting belief, and it’s exactly what brought me into the SPAA audition room earlier this year.”
BA Musical Theatre programme leader Andrew Sullivan is thrilled that Stacey is receiving this scholarship. “When Stacey auditioned for SPAA in Singapore it was clear that she had such a passion for creating, performance and taking risk without judgement,” he says. “These are the seeds in which powerful roots can bloom and performing arts training be fully realised.”
US citizen Keenan had been studying at the English College, Dubai, for five years when he auditioned for SPAA. He played several roles in his high school drama group. He says his audition was nerve-racking, but exhilarating.
“None of my family has had a theatre background but I have wanted to work in theatre ever since I was young,” Keenan says. “I have always had an interest in film and media studies – instead of focusing on the actual plot I would focus on the editing skills and cinematography as well as what was happening in the background but it has always been my dream to be in theatre. This was an amazing opportunity.”
Programme leader BA Acting Chris Gould explained how Keenan stood out: “He was attentive, curious and committed – attributes we always look for. At SPAA, he will have access to the incredible facilities the establishment offers as well as working with a variety of highly qualified, experienced and committed members of the faculty and academy-wide staff.
“Keenan will leave with the skills necessary to carve out a successful career in the professional performing arts, whether he decides to remain the UAE or return to the USA. We are thrilled to have Keenan on board, and his scholarship is well deserved.”