SOME lucky drama students enjoyed a special workshop with a West End director this autumn thanks to the Douglas Choral Union.
The DCU, who produced shows including Les Miserables and Miss Saigon at the Gaiety Theatre, also used the musical theatre event as an opportunity to announce the two recipients of their new bursary for under-25s pursuing further education in drama, dance, music and theatre.
The group’s director Tara Wilkinson, who also works in London’s West End, led the workshop at Ballakermeen High School as a reward to those 15-18-year-old students involved in a production of West Side Story to be performed at the school this week. DCU committee member and dance captain for the production team, Julia Bratty said: ‘We feel it is really important to harbour the talent we have on the island and help develop the skills of our young performers so we thought we’d organise this two-hour workshop so that Tara could pass on her knowledge gained directly from the West End. At the same time we did a formal presentation to the two candidates in receipt of this year’s bursary scheme.
‘They were back from their first term at college so we were keen to learn about their experiences and how the funding has been helping them so far.’
The first recipients of the bursary are Rebecca Lawrence and Matthew Cannell who both needed help with funding for their places at drama school. Matthew is attending Arts Ed in London and Rebecca is attending London School of Musical Theatre.
Both were interviewed by a panel from the DCU committee where they explained how the cash would help them but also how they would use their new skills back in the island.
Julia said: ‘Both candidates have been great assets to our society and their passion for musical theatre is unquestioned. Matty would like to come back at Christmas and hold a workshop to go through audition techniques and encourage males into musical theatre and Rebecca would like to hold one to work on individual’s confidence. This is exactly the kind of thing we wanted the introduction of a bursary to encourage and we are grateful that both candidates are wanting to bring home their skills to encourage the students of the future.’
She said: ‘They both joined in the workshop, which saw Tara lead the group into an adaptation of the famous Barn Dance number from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
‘Judging by the laughter, everyone enjoyed themselves which confirmed our desire to repeat a similar workshop for the students of the island in the future.’
Tara has just finished as associate director on the tour of Sister Act and is currently resident director for the new tour of Nine to Five. She was in the island for four days to work on the DCU’s new show Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, sponsored by Dougherty Quinn, which will be staged at the Gaiety Theatre from February 2-9.