The John Bell Scholarship supports budding performers from regional areas to pursue a career in the performing arts. In January 2024, Tom, Daisy, Grace and Luke joined us at Bell Shakespeare HQ for a week of learning from industry professionals. Read about their experience below.

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Tom Marchant, Bendigo, VIC

My name is Tom. I am from Bendigo in Victoria and go to Girton Gramma School. I always felt as if I was not given the same opportunities as kids in the big cities such as being able to see productions, being close to agents and have learning opportunities related to performing. I jumped at the opportunity to audition for the John Bell Scholarship and feel that it has made clear that I want to continue pursuing acting as a career.

Whilst it was scary and nerve wracking at first, the welcome I was given by the company and being told “you are no longer a stranger” made me feel comfortable that there is always someone there to support you. I feel privileged to have learnt so much in movement, speech and acting. By the end of the week, I felt like I had accomplished something great.

Daisy Axon, Baldivis, Western Australia

My name is Daisy. I am from Baldivis in Western Australia and have just graduated from Mother Teresa Catholic College.

My week at Bell Shakespeare felt like a (Midsummer Night’s) DREAM! Before the week, I was knowledgeable about Shakespeare’s work, but felt somewhat disconnected. After my time at Bell Shakespeare, learning new language techniques and about the storytelling of the plays, I believe Shakespeare’s work is just as relevant now as it once was.

I am reading Judy Dench's Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays The Rent at the moment and her words really resonated with how I feel now after my JBS week: 'Shakespeare belongs to everybody (...) You've got to find out what his words mean for YOU'. I felt that by learning more about Shakespeare, I made discoveries about myself.

Performing the monologues that won us our Scholarships for the Bell Shakespeare company was really special. I felt like it was a real 'full circle' moment, and a beautiful 'hoorah' for our journey from first auditioning to being at the HQ for the scholarship week!

Luke Johnston, Central Coast, NSW

My name is Luke and I go to Green Point Christian College on the Central Coast. It was amazing to be amongst great people in a world I love for 5 days. It reminded me of how at home I feel amongst actors. The masterclasses were so insightful. They showed me things I knew and didn’t. It gave me real tools I can use.

One of the biggest highlights was seeing the cast do the physical workshop, I saw things that I do at home, but I saw them at a level that I did not believe was possible at the time. I had never seen the foundations I learnt taken to the professional level before.

For any student wanting to audition for the John Bell Scholarship, I would say: What do you have to lose? Nothing. What do you have to gain? Everything.

Grace Winspear, Hobart, TAS

I’m Grace Winspear and I come from Hobart, Tasmania. My week at Bell Shakespeare was better than I could have ever imagined. Coming from a small town, I don't often get the opportunity to be around industry professionals, let alone be coached by them.

Everyone at Bell Shakespeare is so insanely lovely, especially Emily and Shelley who were our primary teachers and supervisors. I struggle a lot with self-doubt and imposter syndrome, but this week taught me that it is okay to celebrate when you have made an achievement.

Thank you for making this possible for me, for the other recipients this week and all the other young regional actors who have and will get to experience this opportunity.

For more information on how you can support programs like the John Bell Scholarship, contact
All photographs (c) Clare Hawley