Drama School Scholarships

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The National Drama School offers several scholarships designed to attract and retain talented acting students enrolled in the full-time Advanced Diploma of Acting.

The Adrian Gibson Scholarship

For the first time in The National Drama School’s history, we are excited to offer the inaugural Adrian Gibson Scholarship, which will cover the full two years of tuition fees for one student enrolling in the full time Advanced Diploma of Acting in 2024.

The scholarship recipient will be identified through application and audition and awarded based on talent. First Nations and gender diverse people are encouraged to apply. Students wishing to apply for the Adrian Gibson Scholarship will be able to submit an application following receipt of an offer to enrol in the Advanced Diploma.

Adrian Gibson OAM joined the Board of the National Theatre in 1972, later becoming its Chair in 1978. He retired in 2011, perhaps as Australia’s longest serving Arts Chair.

Adrian Gibson’s knowledge of the Australian arts scene and the National’s unique place in it, (was) incomparable. His remarkable thirty three year Chairmanship was characterised by inclusiveness, innovation, pragmatism and probity. His gentle, urbane manner helped soothe even the most volatile artistic sensibilities and he earned the respect of all his Board members and of the theatre’s diverse staff – from general managers and teachers to rehearsal pianists and cleaners.
Frank Van Straten OAM, author of National Treasure

The National Drama School Director of Drama Dr Jo Loth (left) with Adrian Gibson Scholarship recipient Siëm Putland.

18-year-old Melburnian Siëm Estella Putland (they/them) has received the inaugural Adrian Gibson Scholarship, which generously covers the full tuition fees for the new two-year full time Advanced Diploma of Acting.

The Advanced Diploma of Acting is a nationally accredited, full-time, professional training course that prepares students for careers as actors and performance makers in theatre, film, television and new media.

The scholarship is named in honour of the late Adrian Gibson OAM who joined the Board of the National Theatre in 1972, later becoming its Chair in 1978. He retired in 2011, perhaps as Australia’s longest serving Arts Chair.

CEO Sarah Hunt acknowledged the timely generosity of the Adrian Gibson Scholarship in an exciting period of development and growth for The National Drama School.

‘The class of 2024 is the first intake in our newly designed two-year full time Advanced Diploma of Acting – it’s also the largest intake into the program since 2016,’ said Hunt. ‘The Adrian Gibson Scholarship is a timely addition to our student scholarship programs and marks the first time The National Drama School has been able to offer free tuition for the full duration of the acting course.’

The new two-year Advanced Diploma provides an intensive immersion focussed on the craft of acting for stage and screen, allowing students to get into the industry faster and gain excellent training in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

Director of Drama, Dr Jo Loth praised the strength of the scholarship applicants.

‘The breadth of applicants was particularly inspiring and while the final decision was difficult, Siëm’s application exuded passion, commitment and a highly commendable show of generosity towards others,’ said Loth. ‘We are very proud of The National Drama School’s record of diversity, equity and inclusion and Siëm’s personal circumstances certainly contributed to their final selection.’

Siëm explained: “Growing up as an openly queer Indigenous and Maori person, I faced many racist, homophobic remarks and stereotypes. I remember in my early high school my drama teacher told me that I deserved to follow my heart, no matter the struggle. This solidified my passion for acting, which has been my safe space since before I can remember. Acting is my way of processing emotions and situations that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to express in my day-to-day life. It allows me to lower my mask and not fear judgement for my autistic traits. Acting, and the people within it, have become my family. My support.’

Siëm has admirable goals for their acting career. ‘One day when my acting is more successful, I’d love to start a foundation that helps people pay for neurodiverse people’s diagnoses, they say. ‘I believe everyone deserves the support they need.’