Laurence Olivier Bursary

The Laurence Olivier Bursary was established by Society of London Theatre in 1987 to commemorate the 80th Birthday of Laurence Olivier, one of the greatest British actors of the 20th century.

He was keen to help young actors who had the potential to make a major contribution to British theatre and the Laurence Olivier Bursary aims to help students who have considerable talent but are facing financial difficulties in completing their studies. The demands of their final year course makes part-time jobs almost impossible, which is why the Bursary can make such a difference .

Each summer the Society invites the principals of accredited drama schools to submit two nominations for the Bursary. The nominees should be approaching their final year and fulfil the dual criteria of financial need and potential talent. About 40 students are entered each June and appear before a panel of theatre industry professionals – usually producers and casting directors – where they give a ten minute audition (which can include a song) and, after lunch, an interview.

SOLT gives several bursaries worth £7,500 each as well as smaller sums (of £1000 plus) at the discretion of the judges. Other organisations contribute their own bursaries in conjunction with the Society’s scheme:

The Behrens Bursary provided by the Behrens Foundation, this comprises one bursary of £5,000 plus a further £5,000 to be allocated at the judges’ discretion.
The Mary Selway Bursary £2,000 given in alternate years in memory of the late casting director Mary Selway by the Casting Directors Guild.
The Carmen Silvera Bursary £5,000 given by agent Barry Burnett in memory of the late actress Carmen Silvera.
The Clothworkers’ Laurence Olivier Bursary provided by the Clothworkers’ Foundation this comprises of a total donation of £37,500 given over five years from 2014.

Previous Bursary beneficiaries include Michael Sheen, Ewan McGregor and Paterson Joseph.