Bath Young Actor of the Year 2019.
Bath Young Actor of the Year, now in its sixth year, is a highlight of the Mid-Somerset Festival calendar. On October 11th, six talented performers, chosen from the 2019 festival classes in March, competed for the junior and senior titles at The Edge, the University of Bath’s arts and creativity hub.
Each contestant had to provide a 10-minute repertoire on a theme of her own choice. Writhlington School student Anna Bagan’s exploration of the theme of ‘Parents’ won her the junior cup. The twelve-year old was praised by adjudicators Katrina Mulverhill and Rebecca Thompson for her compelling performance, convincing them she really believed in what she was doing. She began with Sammy’s Consent, playing Sammy eyeing up her new stepmother for the first time. ‘A very brave opening,‘ commented Katrina Mulverhill, on Anna’s decision to begin the scene in silence which she maintained for a few minutes, establishing her character’s antagonism through the way she slouched in her chair. Her narration of an extract from Matilda had a ‘lovely touch of physicality’, according to Rebecca Thompson.
The runners-up in this section were Lucy Haseltine and Vassiliki Sotirakou, who performed on crutches having fractured her ankle two days before. Ironically, Vassiliki’s theme was Overcoming Difficulty, which she certainly achieved. Although her movements were inevitably going to be limited because of her injury, she exuded a quiet strength in her pieces, through her compelling facial expressions and perfect timing. In Every Brilliant Thing she gave a mesmerising performance as a child confronting her mother recovering from a suicide attempt as, according to Rebecca Thompson, she ‘didn’t push the darkness and caught the black comedy.’
Movement was an integral part of Lucy Haseltine’s repertoire on ‘Shakespeare’s Legacy’ with pieces that were, according to the adjudicators, ‘well-crafted with plenty of shape and thought.’ Whether she was one of Macbeth’s witches or Peaseblossom in I, Peaseblossom she commanded the stage though her fluid movements and intense facial expressions.
The winner of the senior cup was Megan Holloway, a Year 13 student at St Augustine’s College. Her exploration of ‘Desire’ began with a scene from The Life and Loves of a She-Devil where she completely conveyed the mental unpredictability of Ruth’s character. In Wastwater she gave a chilling performance, described by Rebecca Thompson, as ‘sinister and brutal.’
Runner-ups Aurelia Harris Johnstone and Annabelle Matheou chose ‘Intimations of Mortality’ and ‘Lost Children’ as their themes. Aurelia showed a confident comic touch in a brief scene from Oliver Twist and, in a contrasting mood and role, her Lady Macbeth revealed, ‘a real sense of purpose. It was a magical moment,‘ Katrina Mulverhill said, ‘when you saw him, so did I.’
Annabelle’s repertoire was marked by a ‘mesmerising focus and was very well-shaped,‘ said Rebecca Thompson who also praised her performance as Constance in King John for her ‘stillness at the beginning, where she unpicks the depth of pain.’