Six gifted Grade 12 scholars are one step closer to claiming their share of R800 000 to help realise their dream of studying the performing arts at tertiary level.
This incredible opportunity has been granted to them as part of the 8th annual Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Scholarship Programme.
Since 2009, ACT has been supporting arts students through this 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.
Funded by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), and supported by 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.
After a nationwide search, ACT has selected six Grade 12s from across the country. They are; Sibusiso Nhlapo (20) from Alberton, Gauteng, National School of the Arts; Tamzin Williams (17) from Cape Town, Western Cape, The Settlers High School; Thandaza Silwane (18) from Lady Grey, Eastern Cape, Lady Grey Arts Academy; Jeani Heyns (18) from Cape Town, Western Cape, Bloemhof Girls High; Virtuous Kandemiiri (17) from Centurion, Gauteng, Lyttelton Manor High School; and Robin Castle (17) East London, Eastern Cape, Stirling High School.
ACT CEO, Pieter Jacobs says of the six finalists: “It takes a rare combination of natural talent, potential for growth, charisma, and a bit of magic that leads to a candidate being selected as one of six finalists from among 300 participants. It’s going to be a very tough final round and we are excited to host these exceptional young performers and see them battle it out on stage.”
All exceptionally excited about making it through the audition process, this super six all firmly believe winning an ACT Scholarship would offer them a life-changing opportunity.
The Western Cape’s Jeani Heyns explains; “Have you ever watched fireworks go off at the start of a new year? The spectacular display ignites feelings of excitement, and awe, but also a faint nervousness, because you know they signify the start of a new year. I would say my feelings toward the finals are similar, because the finals and winning the Scholarship signifies my first step toward my future as a performer.”
She says that winning a Scholarship would mean the world to her. “It would help write a prominent chapter in my story,” she concludes.
Fellow Western Cape scholar, Tamzin Williams believes her acting and singing capabilities coupled with her confidence helped her catch ACT’s attention. “I feel overwhelmed yet humbled and blessed that I was chosen to be one of the finalists. It just proves that hard work does pay off when you set your mind to achieve something.”
Virtuous Kandemiiri from Centurion says winning a Scholarship would not only allow her to do what she feels most natural doing, it would also help lift the financial burden of tertiary education fees off her family. “Performing arts is a huge part of my life, a natural sense of being home and doing what I believe I was born to do. This opportunity is everything that I need right now,” she says.
These sentiments are echoed by the Eastern Cape’s Thandaza Silwane. “Due to financial constraints, winning a Scholarship would mean the world to me. I wouldn’t really have to stress about how and where I am going to receive money for university. It definitely places me a few steps closer to my dream.”
And while ecstasy and pride fill all the finalists, Gauteng’s Sibusiso Nhalpo says he still hasn’t shaken his nerves. “There is still so much to do in order to make sure that I get the Scholarship,” he says. “But come what may, I am ready and so thrilled to have achieved a final spot. Winning this scholarship would mean perfecting my craft and getting the chance to study and meet other artists from different parts of South Africa, it would also mean working hard and being afforded the opportunity to study and broaden my horizons.”
Broad horizons are what all the finalists have their sights set on, but the Eastern Cape’s Robin Castle says he hopes the fact that he’s realising his dream will encourage others.
“Winning this scholarship would mean the world to me, as I did this audition not only for myself but to bring my message across; that a dream is just a step away from reality, and winning the Scholarship would mean that I can bring this message to life.”
The six Grade 12 scholars will showcase their talent at the final event on Monday, 10 October at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. The winners will be named on the night.
For more information, please visit http://www.act.org.za/programmes/scholarships.html.
Lady Grey Arts Academy learner Thandaza Silwane was born in Cape Town and raised in Durban. Thandaza, who is Head Boy and Hostel Deputy Head Boy, is currently completing his Grade 12, majoring in Music (vocals), Contemporary dance and Dramatic Arts. He has also achieved his Advanced Certificate for singing and Grade 3 for piano through Trinity.
Having played lead characters in West Side Story and the Passion Play, Silwane is passionate about the arts and would love to pursue his dream of being a musical theatre and dance star.
Watch Silwane’s audition here:
East Londoner Robin Castle has performed around the world, most recently at the Royal Albert Hall as part of an exchange programme with Stirling High School and Central Lancaster High. He has performed lead roles in Stirling High School’s musicals, notably playing Tinman in The Wizard of Oz. As a soloist singer, Robin took the trophies for the Port Rex Lions Eisteddfod in 2015 and 2016. He is the vocalist for the Stirling High School Jazz band, which performed at the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival 2016. Playing a leading role in his school, Castle is a prefect and has received his Honours cum laude for Culture at Stirling High.
Watch Castle’s audition here:
Author: Gilly Hemphill
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