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Students win places at top acting schools

(left to right) Drama students Rhiannon Gillibrand, Lauren Hawkes, Cameron Mair, Jamie-Leigh Price and Becky Lindsay

IT’S showtime for a pair of performers from Sunderland College who are raising cash in a bid to follow their dreams of stardom.

Talented students Becky Lindsay and Cameron Mair have secured spots at prestigious acting schools and are now organising a variety night to help fund their courses.

Becky successfully auditioned for a place at Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) in London on a three-year degree programme and Cameron will be spending the summer in the capital on a National Youth Theatre (NYT) course.

The aspiring actors were up against thousands of hopefuls all vying for a handful of places on the highly esteemed courses.

Becky, 18, from Tunstall, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of famous ALRA alumni including comedian Miranda Hart, Broadchurch star Sarah Parish, and Hollywood actor Emmanuel Imani, and dreams of working in TV and film.

She said: “There were three round of auditions and it was a very competitive process, so it came as a real shock when I found out I had a place on the course. I just sat and cried for a while as I was so overwhelmed.

“ALRA was my first choice as it specialises in television and film – when I started researching the different performing schools, I knew it was the place for me. There’s a lot of expectation to live up to it because it is very prestigious, but I’m excited for the challenge.”

Becky, who has had a passion for acting since she was a small child, teaches youngsters at the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts and is a seasoned performer.

She has acted in numerous productions, including an upcoming starring role as Oliver in the Royalty Theatre’s stage adaptation of Oliver Twist, and has appeared as a TV extra in BBC’s Beowulf and CBBC’s Wolfblood.

Becky added: “I’d love to go into the film side of things as it’s more personal and naturalistic which is my preferred style of acting. I love CGI and would love to experiment in this and I really want to do my own stunts, but as long as I’m acting I’ll be happy.

“The fee for the first year of the course is £8,321 and I’m hoping the variety show, as well as other fundraising activities I’m doing, will raise quite a bit of money towards this target. I wasn’t able to apply for a scholarship for my first year, but I’ll be applying for one for my second and third year.”

Meanwhile, Cameron is aiming to raise £1,430 to fund the costs of his course, an intensive acting programme for young people aged 14-22.

Once he completes the course, Cameron, 18 from South Hetton, will become a company member of NYT and will have access to casting opportunities and industry-led training and workshops.

NYT is a registered charity which is committed to inspiring, nurturing and showcasing exceptional performers, and its world renowned alumni includes Daniel Craig, Helen Mirren and Colin Firth.

Cameron, one of 5,000 people to apply to the theatre company this year, said: “Due to its prestige, the acting courses offered by NYT are very competitive as each course accepts only 30 auditionees per year, so I feel very lucky to be one of them.

“I am thrilled to have achieved a place on the course. It means an incredible amount to me to be given such a unique and amazing opportunity, and I’m very excited for the challenge and to gain an insight into the acting industry.”

Cameron, who will be appearing alongside Becky in Oliver Twist, has been acting since he was eight and is a member of Theatre Royal Newcastle’s Youth Group and Northern Stage’s Young Company.

With the support of their lecturers, Becky and Cameron, who are both studying BTEC level 3 extended diploma in acting, have organised the variety show ‘Be Our Guest’ with the aim of raising £700 to pay towards their courses.

Featuring performances by Becky and Cameron, Sunderland College music and dance students, local band Thieves of Liberty and young actors from The Drama Lab, the show will be staged in the college’s Arts Academy theatre at Bede Campus on Wednesday, 5 July at 6pm.

The Arts Academy has produced a succession of talented performers since it opened in 2014, and this year is proving no exception.

In addition to Becky and Cameron gaining places on prestigious courses, four first year drama students have also been accepted onto a summer school at Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA).

Rhiannon Gillibrand, Jamie-Leigh Price, Lauren Hawkes and Kristen Wilson will be spending three days at LIPA where they will find out more about what it’s like to study at a specialist performing arts institution and how to prepare for entry auditions.

Gemma Whelam, drama lecturer at Sunderland College, said: “We are elated that so many of our students have been recognised for their outstanding talent. These students have been excellent role models and ambassadors for the college and have worked exceptionally hard throughout their studies at the college.

“We wish Becky and Cameron the best of luck in their professional endeavours and hope that they will return to pass their expertise onto future students. We are looking forward to seeing how those who have been selected to take part in the LIPA summer school have developed and share their experiences.”

  • Tickets for ‘Be Our Guest’ cost £5 and are available on eventbrite at bit.ly/2szkint
  • For more information about performing arts courses at Sunderland College, ring 0191 5116000, email info@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk or search courses here.


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