2007 Awardee: James McArdle

Your kindness has allowed the rare opportunity for Scotland to be represented at the world’s most prestigious drama school, and for that, I thank you. I am deeply honoured …

Biography

Glasgow-born James McArdle is the youngest Scot to have been accepted to study for an acting degree at RADA in almost ten years. The list of previous graduates from RADA reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in British acting.

James started studying acting at school, progressing rapidly through the practical examinations to become a member of the Advanced Higher Cohort. In his last year at school, he played Hamlet, the play having been chosen on the basis of James’s ability to play such a complex and challenging character. He was the finest young actor his acting teacher had come across in her career.

James has been a committed member of the PACE Youth Theatre for over ten years, and was considered to be one of the most talented young actors to have been involved in the company. To help raise money to get himself to RADA, James wrote a play which was produced by PACE Youth Theatre Company and which, it is hoped, will transfer to the Edinburgh Festival in 2008.

James is considered to have enormous potential as an actor and is expected to become one of Scotland’s finest actors in the future.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award will help with the fees and living costs as James starts his studies at RADA.

At the end of his first term at RADA, James writes, “This has truly been the richest time of my life in terms of the knowledge and growth I am receiving daily. The Dewar Arts Awards has allowed me to enter a difficult profession at the highest level.”  After a successful first year, James’s award has been confirmed for a second year.

Update Jan 2019: James McArdle stars in blockbuster ‘Mary Queen of Scots’. Read more here.

Your kindness has allowed the rare opportunity for Scotland to be represented at the world’s most prestigious drama school, and for that, I thank you. I am deeply honoured …

2006 Awardee: Martin O’Connor

I would like to thank you for this award which will allow me to dedicate quality time to the research and development of my writing.

Biography

Martin started performing in school pantomimes and went on to study drama at college. After graduation he continued to work for a number of well-known Scottish theatres.
In 2005 he started writing, first for The Arches Theatre Company in Glasgow, and went on to write and produce two solo shows ‘Manifesto’ and ‘Zugzwang’, for The Arches Theatre Festivals which were both very well received by both audiences and critics. Martin is equally talented as a writer and as a performer and combines humour with intelligence to produce work of power and poignancy.

Glasgay! Festival spotted Martin performing at The Arches Festival and invited him to write and perform a show at their 2007 season. Martin says that this new piece would continue to explore modern male issues. He is interested in subjects that question what it is to be young, male and Scottish in today’s society.

He writes, “I am inspired by gender politics in today’s society and am aware of the press and media’s power to manipulate our viewpoints. I recognise there is a massive crisis affecting men, especially young men, and this informed my work.”

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award will help support Martin as he researches, writes and develops his show for the 2007 Glasgay! Festival.

Since the Award

Martin’s show ‘Reality’ was a critical success at the 2007 Festival. He was invited to restage his production at the Tron Theatre, also supported by a Dewar Arts Award.  The experience of writing, producing and performing ‘Reality’ gave Martin the confidence to develop his writing. Following its success, Martin has been commissioned to write a new piece for The Arches in 2009.

I would like to thank you for this award which will allow me to dedicate quality time to the research and development of my writing.

2007 Awardee: Mia Valenti

I am thrilled to bits and feel very privileged… I will now be able to go to London and concentrate fully on my dance studies. For that I am truly grateful.

Biography

Mia Valenti has loved dance for as long as she can remember. She started learning to dance at her local dancing school in Wemyss Bay. Her first appearance on the stage was at the age of eight when she was given the role of the young Juliet in the premiere of Robert North’s Romeo and Juliet, by Scottish Ballet.

Two years’ later she went on to win a place on the Scottish Ballet’s Junior Associate Scheme. Later she enrolled in the Dance School of Scotland, Knightswood where she has studied for four years.

In 2001 and 2004, Mia won the John Marshall Memorial Award for dance from the Royal Academy of Dance.

Mia has always been a highly focussed and motivated ballet student, able to communicate well with an audience and perform with assurance. She has been offered a fully funded place at Central School of Ballet, London where her exceptional potential can be developed.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award provides support to enable Mia to study dance at the Central School of Ballet.

Since the Award

In 2010 Mia graduated with a Professional Dance & Performance Certificate from the Central School of Ballet.  In her final year, Mia toured with ‘Ballet Central’, a company formed from third-year students of CSB, to many venues in the UK. One of her more unusual performance venues was the Old Bailey in London.

I am thrilled to bits and feel very privileged… I will now be able to go to London and concentrate fully on my dance studies. For that I am truly grateful.

2006 Awardee: Helen Armes

I am really enjoying my time in Guildford. It is, of course, very challenging at times and it requires a lot of hard work, but this is exactly what I had hoped for.

Biography

Helen Armes has wanted to be an actor from an early age. Her family moved to Scotland from Lancashire when she was 11 and since then she has appeared regularly with the Lyceum Youth Theatre. This involvement led to a professional performance at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh and leading roles in two children’s TV serials for BBC Scotland.

From the moment Helen walked into the audition for the first TV show, the director knew that she was an exceptional talent for a 15-year-old. When it came to the second show, the development of her talent was clear. He is certain that, with the right training, she has all the attributes to become an actor of stature on the British stage.

Helen has won a place at the Guildford School of Acting to study for three years. Despite a Dance and Drama Award, she would not have been able to accept the place without additional financial support.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award has provided that additional support to enable Helen to pursue her dreams of becoming an actor.

Since the Award

Helen’s funding has been continued for a further year into 2007. She writes, “I have had an incredibly fulfilling first year at GSA. I have enjoyed the lessons, the teachers, and the challenges, as well as my development as both  person and an actor, and I know that I could not have reached this stage without such a high quality of training.”

I am really enjoying my time in Guildford. It is, of course, very challenging at times and it requires a lot of hard work, but this is exactly what I had hoped for.

2006 Awardee: Jennifer McVey

I would like to cultivate more links between the thriving theatre scene in Scotland and on Broadway and off-Broadway, allowing artists to cross over between the two more easily. I am very excited about the emergence of the National Theatre of Scotland

Biography

Jennifer McVey, whose Glasgow roots go back generations, has been involved in the arts and theatre from a very young age. As a child she studied dance, singing and the violin, and was a member of both the Inverclyde Youth Theatre and the Scottish Youth Theatre.

Jennifer gained a degree in English and Theatre Studies at Glasgow University followed by a year working at the renowned Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow. From there she was accepted on an internship with Signature Theatre, New York and then, after successful audition, she was one of 20 students accepted onto the Master of Fine Arts (Acting) course at the New School for Drama (formerly Actors’ Studio Drama School), New York. Former alumni of the School include Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Robert de Niro and Meryl Streep.

According to the Director of the School, Jennifer’s audition was ‘a real stand-out’. “I’ve seen it all” he writes, but Jennifer stood out as possessing “an originality of talent and the brightest of futures for any incoming candidate.”

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Awards is contributing towards the first year of Jennifer’s studies.

After a successful first two years at the New School for Drama, where her tutor writes  that ‘her ability to absorb and make her own concepts and approaches to subtle psychological nuances in characterisation, relationship and emotional depth separate her from scores of other [drama students]’, Jennifer’s award has been extended for a third and final year.

Since the Award

Jennifer graduated from New School of Drama, New York in May 2009. She immediately launched into auditions, was signed up by two agents and cast in a workshop production of a new musical based on the Nicholas Sparks novel ‘The Notebook’. She is also a founding member of a new theatre company of young actors, ABroad Stage Company (see www.abroadstageco.com). Jennifer writes, “I feel that my three years at the New School were absolutely invaluable for me and the training has really shaped me as an actor and given me a solid basis from which to grow and develop into the artist I am going to be.”

I would like to cultivate more links between the thriving theatre scene in Scotland and on Broadway and off-Broadway, allowing artists to cross over between the two more easily. I am very excited about the emergence of the National Theatre of Scotland

2004 Awardee: Sally Reid

With the advent of Scotland's first national theatre company, it is an exciting time to be working in theatre in Scotland, and I hope to be able to contribute to the success of our theatre industry

Biography

Originally from Perth, Sally has been hailed as one of the brightest young actors currently on the Scottish theatre scene.

As a very young actor, she appeared in several productions at Glasgow’s Citizens’ Theatre, including the award-winning show Top Girls and impressed the artistic director as being someone with huge potential to become a major talent. It was while Sally was working at the Citz that she was nominated for an award. She was encouraged by Giles Havergal to use it to fund herself through an intensive acting course for young professional actors in Chicago.

Sally was accepted onto the course at the internationally-acclaimed ensemble company Steppenwolf Theatre. Famous alumni of the company include John Malkovich, Terry Johnson and Gary Sinise.

How the Award Helped

The Dewar Arts Award funded Sally to study at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.

Since the Award

Sally writes: “The three months that I spent with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago proved to be even more rewarding than I had hoped for. I attended so many challenging classes with such a wide range of skilled practitioners that I really felt I was growing as an actor on a daily basis.”

On her return to Glasgow, Sally was cast in the musical “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” which she found a daunting prospect. She says, “had I not been working with the Steppenwolf Company, I may have been quite intimidated by this experience, but I revelled in the chance to put some of my new skills into action.”

Sally has since performed regularly in National Theatre of Scotland productions.

With the advent of Scotland's first national theatre company, it is an exciting time to be working in theatre in Scotland, and I hope to be able to contribute to the success of our theatre industry