The talented recipients for the 2022 Adelaide Theatre & More Scholarship for Honours in Performing Arts are Dion Lopresto and Gemma Thorne. Thanks to a generous donation by the Adelaide Theatre and More Social Club to Flinders Assemblage Centre for Creative Arts, this scholarship was established in 2021 to provide financial assistance to Honours students studying Performing Arts at Flinders University.
Awarded on the basis of academic merit, demonstrated ability and commitment to the Performing Arts as well as a demonstrated interest in pursuing a career or a doctoral program in the Performing Arts, each year two students receive this $5,000 scholarship.
Creative Arts Honours Coordinator Dr Tom Young highlights the importance of extra funding, “The Adelaide Theatre and More Scholarship opens doors for students, it provides much-needed support and encourages innovative and experimental creative works. It gives students the chance to hone their skills, think big, and launch themselves into a career in the performing arts.”
As the 2022 selection panellists, Dr Amy Matthews, Dr Alex Vickery-Howe and Dr Tom Young had the tough job of deciding who the lucky winners of the sought-after scholarship would be. Alex confirms, “All of the applications we received showed merit and it is clear that the students each hold a deep passion and enthusiasm for the creative arts. It’s always difficult to choose someone when everyone is so deserving.”
So who are the 2022 scholarship recipients?
The Performing Arts students to receive the Adelaide Theatre and More Scholarship for Honours in Performing Arts in 2022 are Gemma Thorne and Dion Lopresto.
Drama student Dion Lopresto has always wanted to enter the acting industry since his youth. He graduated high school in 2013 and spent the next five years taking part in acting workshops and looking for work. In 2019, Dion decided to take his passion to the next level, auditioned, and was accepted into Flinders Drama Centre, where his dream started to become reality.
Thankful for the tangible support of his creative and scholarly pursuits, Dion tells us, “Receiving this scholarship has been an amazing opportunity. It means a lot to me; it makes me feel like all the hard work I’ve been putting in has finally paid off, which is extremely rewarding. It is a reminder that you really do get out what you put in. The scholarship has helped calm down a lot of the stress over this year and given me further motivation to excel in my field”.
“My wonderful supervisor, Renato Musolino, has been a massive influence on me throughout my journey at Drama Centre. A big part of the reason is due to the culture commonality – it allows me to see how someone from the same background and similar experiences is able to step away from that and become an amazing actor. He has constantly supported me throughout my three years here and has taught me a wealth of knowledge which has become a large part of my skillset and process.”
Dion’s supervisor Dr Renato Musolino is delighted for his student, “I am so proud of Dion! He is a hard worker and a valuable member of the ensemble. The scholarship is very much deserved, and it is a testimonial to his hard work and his love of acting. It provides Dion with stability whilst he embarks on the final stages of his studies and also pays tribute to the many sacrifices that he has made to be here. I am grateful to Flinders that this scholarship has been made available. Very exciting times, I cannot wait to see what he creates.”
During his Honours year, Dion will be performing in the mid-year production block, where he will continue to explore coming of age themes in Australian and US theatre and film. He is especially interested in hero and villain archetypes within these stories. Dion will also be participating in a range of industry activities and will devise his own work.
Gemma Thorne made the move to Flinders for her Honours after completing an Arts Degree in Creative Writing and Gender Studies from Adelaide University in 2021.
Gemma works as a performance poet, collaborating with artists such as Motus Collective and as a host/resident poet on the feminist radio programme Pink Rabbit. She was also a state finalist in the Australian Poetry Slam.
“I am very grateful to be the recipient of this scholarship which will enable me to continue to develop my craft through the purchase of valuable resources and contribution to staging costs of my graduate performance. This scholarship is a powerful affirmation that Flinders University is a progressive supporter of new artistic work, willing to engage with contemporary schools of thought and new voices in storytelling and to encourage vulnerable and important risk-taking in art creation”, she tells us.
Dr Sarah Peters, Gemma’s supervisor, is excited, “Gemma’s project intersects with my field of research and practice around writing performances based on lived experiences, so we have already had some glorious conversations around the ethics of personal storytelling and the conventions used to connect meaningfully with an audience.
“Part of Gemma’s project includes learning from other spoken word poets and solo performers, and I’m thrilled that this scholarship means Gemma can access more performances, participate in skill-building workshops, and be inspired by other professional artists in the development of their own practice-led research project.”
Stay tuned to see how these emerging artists use their funding
With the help of their scholarship funds, Dion and Gemma will focus on cultivating their skills and connections within the performing arts industry. We’re excited to see how their projects develop over the coming months.