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The Faculty of the VCA and Music's School of Performing Arts has today announced the winners of over $60 000 of scholarships for theatre students.

This announcement includes the generous $20 000 Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch Travelling Fellowship which is offered every two years to theatre graduates to allow them to travel abroad and enjoy a measure of financial support during the early years of their professional careers.

The 2009 winner of the Keith and Elisabeth Fellowship is James Brennan. See below for more about James’ career since graduating, including his proposed travel itinerary.

* Richard Pratt Bursaries ($7000 x 2) for outstanding acting students in their second year of training.  The Richard Pratt Bursary Fund was created to celebrate the seventieth birthday of the late Richard Pratt, philanthropist, businessman and long time supporter of the Faculty
2009 recipients:  Elizabeth Debicki and Kevin Kiernan-Molloy

* The Perpetual Foundation - Cassidy Bequest Gift Fund Scholarships ($5,000 x 2)
2009 recipients: Elizabeth Nabben (2nd year Actor) and Fiona Hallenan-Barker (Postgraduate Director)

* VCAM Endowment Scholarship  $6000
2009 recipient: Marcel Dorney (Postgraduate Director)

* Barbara Manning Scholarship ($7000) This scholarship is offered annually in commemoration of the career of Barbara Manning as a theatre practitioner, teacher and supporter of new Australian theatre work.
2009 recipient: Simon Gorman (Postgraduate Animateur)

* Orloff Scholarship ($1750 x 2) Offered annually through the generosity of the Orloff Family, in recognition of each recipient demonstrating outstanding commitment to their course.
2009 recipients: Lara Tumak (Postgraduate Animateur) and Annie Last (3rd Year Actor)

* Irene Mitchell Award ($800).  This award is offered annually in commemoration of Irene Mitchell.
2009 recipient: Alex England (3rd Year Actor)

About James Brennan -  recipient of the 2009 Murdoch Travelling Scholarship

On graduating from the Faculty in 2000, James created a not-for-proit experimental theatre company GoD BE IN MY MouTH with the charter of producing high-quality hybrid theatre and, in addition, offering the ‘thorny delights’ of progressive narrative in new theatrical spaces. 
The first production, PIGLET (Winner of Best Production of an Original Work, Melbourne Fringe Festival 2002) was initially staged in a back lane in 2000.  This work was followed by The Glass Garden, which exploded in an ex-ammunition factory as part of Sydney Festival in 2004. GoD BE IN MY MouTH then presented its most focused work of narrative to date, GRACE (2007), which marked the company’s debut in the conventional theatrical landscape.

In preparation for GRACE, James undertook a period of research into violence and current justice systems: gaining a Certificate 4 in Corrective Practices as a Parole Officer and being posted at Long Bay Correctional Centre.  Drawing inspiration from the stories of offenders and the hopes and failures of bureaucracy, he intends to create a work that investigates our current attachment to retributive justice and, in turn, offers a poetic response.

With the Murdoch Travelling Fellowship, James’ proposed itinerary for 2010 will take him to Sao Paulo, Brazil accompanying Cibele Forjaz, director of Companhia Livre during the development of a new work; to New York to observe and work with Miguel Guiterrez and Alain Buffard; to Muelheim and Essen, Germany to attend the triennial Theatre der Welt; to St Erme (France) to accept a three-month residency at the Performing Arts Forum (PAF); and to Lublin (Poland) with the intention of participating in an intensive summer workshop for performers and performance makers at Gardzieniece Theatre.

Personal Statement:

"As a theatre maker I am intent on the contemporary experience; on the banal and extraordinary aspects of our current existence. I am committed to a theatre that provides a forum for our imaginations to wander in search of questions and images that are urgent to each of us. As director of GoD BE IN MY MouTH, I aim to explore the possibilities of such a theatre, by offering consistently high quality hybrid work that engages in a progressive approach to narrative and facilitates exciting and intimate encounters with audiences.

"My current task is to explore new theatrical forms and experiences which will feed my practice and assist my growth as a theatre maker. By researching current movements and developments of international theatre, I hope to challenge my own practices and in doing so to obtain fresh tools and abilities.  Whilst maintaining the unique strengths of GoD BE IN MY MouTH, I also hope to formulate new direction for the company so that it may continue to play an important role in contemporary Australian theatre."