The Brian Weaver Fellowship which aims to help aspiring actors gain paid, professional experience was launched in December, the result of a donation from Buxton resident, Doreen Weaver, in memory of her late husband, Brian, himself an actor who had a lifelong passion for the arts.
Adam and 17 other hopefuls on the shortlist for the fellowship were auditioned and interviewed by Derby Theatre’s artistic director, Sarah Brigham, composer and musical director, Ivan Stott and Mrs Weaver.
Adam, who lives in Derby, and has been working as an usher at the theatre said: “I’m absolutely over the moon at being offered this opportunity. I’ve still not stopped smiling and can’t wait to get started.
The fellowship will open up a lot more exciting opportunities for him – not only will he perform in The Odyssey but also another production in the autumn and he will also be provided with professional mentoring, a platform to invite agents and showcase his work plus invaluable access to Derby Theatre’s staff, various networks and the wider theatre industry.
“I’m so lucky to get the chance to do what I love, in the place and city that I love. I can’t say how grateful I am to Mrs Weaver and hopefully I’ll do Brian proud,” he said.
His first involvement with the arts in the city dates back to when he was a member of the Derby Playhouse Youth Theatre at the age of 14. He performed on the main stage at the theatre in a production of The Tempest.
Adam remained a member of the youth theatre until he was 19 and then became involved with Derby LIVE Community Theatre and performed in Peer Gynt, Lysistrata and Cranford The Musical.
Since college Adam has been aiming to get into a drama school or training and has missed out until now.
“It has been a case of getting close but not close enough – last rounds, reserve lists that sort of thing – so when I heard about this fellowship I knew I had to try for it and now I have been given this great opportunity which is so exciting,” he said.
Mrs Weaver dearly wanted the fellowship to be a legacy for Brian and his love of theatre because he was unable to fulfil a full time professional career as an actor due to financial constraints in his youth.
She said: “I felt very privileged to be able to attend the auditions and interviews for the Fellowship. What a talented group of applicants we saw. I hope they all went away feeling that they were given plenty of time to display their talents and also have fun.
“The auditions were certainly not of the ten minutes in-and-out type, so often experienced by aspiring actors, and with two such inspired people conducting the exercises, this must surely have rubbed off on all taking part.
“I hope those who were unsuccessful this time will still feel eager to continue with their dreams.
“If I am able, as I hope, to repeat this Fellowship offer next year, I am sure that Adam will be an inspiration to all those who apply.”
Sarah Brigham said: “I’m delighted that through the Brian Weaver Fellowship we will be supporting Adam.
“He auditioned up against 17 other brilliant young actors and the competition was very strong indeed, but in the end his raw talent shone through. I’m delighted that we’ll be able to offer him the mentorship, the paid acting work and the platform of being in two Derby Theatre main stage shows to launch his career.”
Sarah is directing Olivier Award-winning playwright Mike Kenny’s new version of The Odyssey – one of the oldest stories of all time – at the theatre from February 14 to March 1. You can watch a video of the rehearsals and hear more about the production from Sarah, the playwright Mike Kenny and the actor playing the lead role Wole Sawyerr here.
The cast of actor-musicians will tell the tale of the 20-year struggle of hero Odysseus to return home to his family after the Trojan War through live music and brilliant, emotive story-telling.
There is also an opportunity to see The Odyssey from the perspective of his faithful wife in Penelope Retold, which has been created by Caroline Horton.
The RETOLD programme is a series of brand new one-woman plays commissioned by Derby Theatre from some of the most exciting female voices in contemporary theatre today.
The aim of the project is to crack open the classics and see the story afresh from the perspective of a character who would often be silent in the original.
Penelope RETOLD is on from February 20 to March 1.