The first batch of the 2016 regional auditions for the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Scholarships Programme saw ACT CEO, Pieter Jacobs and Programmes Coordinator, Rahiem Whisgary make worthwhile pit stops in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Since 2009, the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) has been supporting arts students through their Scholarships Programme. The only difference this year, is that there are more scholarships on offer to Grade 12 scholars and first and second year university students than ever before.
Supported by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Organisation (DALRO) and the Nedbank Arts Affinity, the 2016 Scholarships Programme will change the lives of dramatic arts, singing, dance and musical theatre scholars and students with scholarships to the value of R800 000. This funding will be split; with R279 000 going towards the winning Grade 12 participants, and the balance being awarded to first and second year performing arts students.
“The auditions really kicked off with a bang at the Durban University of Technology’s Courtyard Theatre,” says Whisgary. “Out of the 34 participants we auditioned, 26 were in the Grade 12 category, and wowed us with their singing, dancing and acting performances; though it must be said that acting appears to be the strong suit of Durban’s young performers, with most of the participants presenting powerful, credible and entertaining monologues – some with very strong character work.”
Matric scholars auditioning for ACT Scholarships, which will afford them the chance to take up a performing arts course at any accredited South African tertiary institution, are required to demonstrate competence in three disciplines – acting, singing and dancing – with exceptional talent in at least one of the disciplines.
Whisgary says the university students, all in their first or second year of undergraduate studies at an accredited South African institution, who auditioned in Durban also brought substantial creative heat. “The five first year students and three second year students who auditioned in Durban are all studying acting. We were treated to an array of monologues – interesting, quirky, dramatic, funny and sad. It is clear that most of the students put a lot of thought into selecting their two monologues; showcasing their range of performance ability.”
Cape Town auditions at the University of Cape Town’s School of Dance saw the most auditions to date; 47 in total. “We were delighted to see strong triple-threat Grade 12 performers,” says Whisgary. “A number of dancers stood out, but it was the singing, by the Grade 12 participants, as well as the first and second years that blew us away.” Whisgary goes on to commend the Capetonian scholars and students for their punctuality. “Almost every participant arrived on time, well prepared and ready to perform,” he says. “Cape Town is certainly producing high-quality, skilled and very hardworking performers.”
In the Eastern Cape, the magnificent PE Opera House hosted the regional auditions in The Windy City. “The 13 participants made the trip to Port Elizabeth worthwhile,” says Whisgary, “by providing us with both strong acting and singing performances.”
To ensure as many aspiring performers as possible receive the chance to participate, auditions will be held nationally until August 2016. Whisgary believes that if these initial auditions are anything to go by, selecting candidates for the finale, to be held at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on 10 October, is going to be an incredibly tough task.
“For those who are yet to audition, we advise that they think carefully about what they want to study and where, taking their long-term career goals and talent into consideration,” says Whisgary. “Becoming a celebrity might be a by-product, but we’re looking to see young performers who have a passion for crafting and honing their skills in their chosen art form – be it acting, singing, dancing, or all three.”
He continues, saying that it is important that the students and scholars arrive at their audition on time and prepared with “fighting spirit”. “There are 17 scholarships to the combined value of R 800,000 up for grabs, so it is important to take the process seriously; know your lines and choreography. And most importantly, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!” Whisgary concludes.
For more information, please visit http://www.act.org.za/programmes/scholarships.html