20 July 2023

Regional students invited to audition for Bell Shakespeare theatre scholarships

| Sally Hopman
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Winners of last year's Bell Shakespeare scholarships

Winners of last year’s Bell Shakespeare scholarships spent time in Sydney at the theatre company’s HQ. Auditions for this year’s scholarships will be held in Goulburn next month. Photo: Bell Shakespeare Company.

When you think of Australia’s leading actor, John Bell’s name is usually way up there in lights.

But he, too, had to start somewhere, and like many young aspiring actors looking for their break, it was in regional Australia.

Next month, young people from the Southern Tablelands region of NSW keen to pursue a career on stage, will have their big break when Bell Shakespeare stages auditions for the 2023 John Bell Scholarship at the new Goulburn Performing Arts Centre.

“John Bell himself was a young budding actor from a regional Australian town,” Bell Shakespeare spokesperson Joanna Erskine said. “He knew first-hand the lack of opportunities for young people outside of major cities and how life-changing the arts can be,” she said.

To give all young actors, regardless of where they live, a chance to star, the John Bell Scholarship was introduced to provide training, pathways and mentorship with working professional artists, that support talented young artists to enter the Australian arts industry.

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The 2023 John Bell Scholarship with Bell Shakespeare is now open to students aged 16 and over from regional, rural, and remote areas. They must attend a regional school full-time.

They can audition for a fully funded scholarship to learn from some of the country’s most respected actors, directors, and educators at the renowned national theatre company.

The three scholarship winners from regional Australia will travel to Bell Shakespeare’s headquarters in Sydney in early 2024 to take part in an intensive week-long program. The program includes training and mentoring, acting master classes and backstage tours. They’ll also be able to watch rehearsals and live theatre performances.

Manager of the Goulburn Performing Arts Centre, Raina Savage, said the new Goulburn centre was ideal to stage the auditions, a central place for people from regional areas.

“It’s a great opportunity for them that would not normally be available,” she said. “Something like this gives young actors a really level playing field. There’s already been some amazing talent coming out of this region. They try hard to compete with the city kids but it’s not always possible – if not for opportunities like this.”

Man with beard

Founder of the Bell Shakespeare Company, John Bell, began his career in regional Australia. Photo: Australian Opera.

She said young people from throughout the Southern Tablelands, from Crookwell to Braidwood, were expected to audition.

The auditions will be held on 1 and 2 August. They’ll take the form of a 15-minute workshop audition with a Bell Shakespeare artist. Students will have to perform a prepared monologue from Shakespeare – ranging from Romeo and Juliet to Macbeth – for which they will receive feedback and direction.

The 2023 scholarship winners will be announced in December.

Students interested in trying out for the scholarship should complete this online form.

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