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Werribee students shine on stage

For three Werribee Secondary College students, their journey through MTC scholarships and workshops has led them to roles on stage.

By Nick Tranter

Through direct engagement programs like MTC Ambassadors and the Betty Amsden Youth Scholarship Course, MTC Education provides enrichment opportunities for young people to connect with our artists and staff beyond seeing a live performance.

For three Werribee Secondary College students, their journey through MTC scholarships and workshops has led them to roles on stage in Almost, Maine with Wyndham Theatre Company.

Laura Roberts and Alaine Beek, Werribee Secondary College staff, have nominated their students for several MTC Education programs over the years. The cast of Almost, Maine, including three MTC alumni, is a testament to the skills they have nurtured and pathways they have forged.

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Amalia Anwar at MTC HQ for the 2017 Betty Amsden Youth Scholarship Course (left),
and on stage in Almost, Maine (right).

Amalia Anwar joined the WSC Drama Club in 2015, and though she was shy, her teachers could see that she fully committed to theatre. ‘Each week, I could see her building in confidence, projection and focus,’ says Alaine Beek, who leads the Drama Club. Amalia recalls feeling both excited and anxious when she began rehearsals for Almost, Maine, and was finding it difficult to communicate with senior students in the cast. Recognising her talent and leadership potential, Amalia’s drama teacher Laura Roberts nominated her for the 2017 Betty Amsden Youth Scholarship Course, and she was selected to be one of the 25 participants. ‘There is no doubt that the five-day course assisted me in improving my communication skills,’ says Amalia. ‘The activities I’ve done at MTC have boosted my self-esteem and confidence, and I was lucky enough to bring the stuff I had learnt to Almost, Maine. I’m incredibly grateful for that.’

Alaine attended Amalia’s performance on the final day of the course, and immediately noticed her growth through the intense week. ‘There was a lack of fuss and absolute focus and clarity in her movements,’ says Alaine, adding that Amalia brought these qualities to her role in Almost, Maine. ‘After her week with MTC, she allowed herself to let go and show euphoric joy in her final scene. It was so beautiful to watch.’ Amalia is now taking leadership roles in the WSC Bitesize sessions using exercises she has learnt at MTC. ‘Her learning process and development continues and is reinforced.’

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Chelsea Moore with teacher Laura Roberts (left), and on stage in Almost, Maine (right).

Chelsea Moore participated in the 2016 MTC Ambassadors program, and whilst she has always enjoyed performing, her teacher noticed that this program really fostered her passion for the theatre. ‘Being exposed to a variety of theatre experiences has provided Chelsea with the opportunity to be able to discuss her thoughts and opinions about the theatre in a confident way,’ says Laura Roberts, Head of Drama. ‘I’ve also noticed that these experiences have enhanced her acting abilities as she’s seen so many wonderful performers over the last two years.’ Laura describes Chelsea as a standout in Almost, Maine, commenting that her mature acting choices enhanced her three scenes, enabling her to create three distinct and complex characters.

‘The script itself is a beautiful work of art and it was an absolute pleasure to work with Alaine and the Wyndham Theatre Company,’ says Chelsea. ‘A massive challenge I faced in the rehearsal period was the timing of lines. The original script is written in a way that is very specific to when the actor starts or ends a sentence and, since I had never worked on a script this intense, proved a challenge. However, the end product was sensational with the entire cast almost never missing a cue.’ Chelsea fondly remembers her time as an MTC Ambassador, seeing productions including Jasper Jones, and Disgraced, and meeting actors such as Kat Stewart. ‘This experience gave me an in-depth insight into what goes on behind the scenes and gave me more appreciation for theatre itself. MTC also gave me the opportunity to experience and appreciate art more frequently, allowing me to gain a deeper understanding of the world of theatre and the complexity behind it. This entire experience certainly assisted in my personal journey as an artist, and forever will.’


David Iheakor at MTC HQ with for the 2016 Youth Scholarship Course.

David Iheakor participated in the MTC Youth Scholarship Course in 2016. ‘I benefited a great deal from my week at MTC,’ says David. ‘I learnt a great deal about theatre and performance, and how to give your energy to any performance you do.’ While David always had an interest in performing, his teachers believe the course strengthened David’s confidence and ability to collaborate with others. ‘David spoke highly of his experiences as part of the MTC Youth Scholarship Course,’ says Laura, ‘and it was wonderful to see all of his hard work culminate into the showcase performance at the end of the program.’
As David’s drama teacher, Laura has noticed that he now takes more risks in his performances, courage she attributes to the Youth Scholarship Course. ‘David is moving away from simply comedic characters,’ says Laura. ‘His performance in Almost, Maine was strong and his character developed dramatically from the beginning of the rehearsals to the final performances.’ David said he particularly enjoyed the challenge of speaking in a different accent while performing.

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The cast of Almost, Maine.

Almost, Maine received a special Adjudicator’s Award at the 2017 Victorian Drama League Awards.

MTC gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the late Betty Amsden AO DSJ, the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Lady Mayoress’ Committee, for their support of the 2017 Betty Amsden Youth Scholarship Course, as well as the MTC Youth Ambassador Giving Circle for their ongoing support of MTC Ambassadors.

To learn more about MTC Education programs visit our site.

Published on 16 November 2017

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