In memory of the late Betty Amsden AO DSJ and in acknowledgment of her generous support for the program, the Melbourne Theatre Company has named MTC’s 2017 Youth Scholarship Course in Betty’s honour. The week-long course is a free intensive drama program for 25 students aged 14-16 who would not otherwise have access to extra-curricular drama programs due to economic, educational, geographic or personal barriers.

Over the last 15 years the program has worked with approximately 350 students from urban, regional and rural Victoria, giving them an opportunity to learn and develop drama skills, gain confidence, self-awareness and self-expression whilst building friendships and a lifelong affinity for theatre. Over the last two years the program has been generously supported by the Lady Mayoress Committee and Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation.

Each day, students are guided through performance-making, movement, voice and rhythm activities, extending their expressive skills and learning how to contribute as a member of an ensemble. In addition, the students attend a number of unique live performances. Many of the participants have never had the opportunity to see professional productions on this scale.

Feedback received from students, teachers and parents attests to the benefits of the Scholarship Course for the participants. On completion of the 2016 course one young student commented, “I see a new confident side of me (that) I never knew existed.” A parent also shared that the course “has been a great experience for our son…the exercise and performances he took part in he found (to be) instructive and opened his eyes to new ways of performing.” Another parent shared that “the drama aspect (of the course allows my child) the freedom to be himself without the hardships of home.”

The week culminates in a performance for family and friends. A teacher whose student participated in the 2016 course told us “It is amazing to think that the students were able to put the show together in just one week. The increase in confidence that is apparent after just a few days in phenomenal… (the performance) highlighted the individual strengths and talents of each student.”

MTC would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the late Miss Betty Amsden AO DSJ for her support of MTC’s Youth Scholarship Course.

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