The Coast’s own Luke Johnston has been named a John Bell Scholarship (JBS) Recipient for 2023. The Green Point Christian College student was one of four recipients of the prestigious scholarship from Bell Shakespeare, the country’s leading theatre company on all things Shakespeare.
Hundreds of students auditioned, with Johnston chosen from a shortlist of highly commended auditionees, following the Central Coast’s auditions, hosted at The Art House.
A life-changing opportunity for regional high school students interested in a career in the performing arts, Johnston will spend a week training at Bell’s Sydney HQ this February,undertaking acting masterclasses, observing rehearsals, and receiving specialist training, focused on Bell’s upcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He’ll also have the chance to perform for and be mentored by Bell’s Founder John Bell and Artistic Director Peter Evans.
“I am honoured and humbled to have been selected for this scholarship. It’s really a wonderful opportunity. I’m looking forward to sharing a space with one of Australia’s biggest theatre companies and getting a sense of what a professional acting environment looks like. I just knows that it will be a life changing experience, I can’t wait,” Johnston said.
Having loved acting for as long as he can remember, Johnston has honed his skills in a host of disciplines, including improv, musical theatre and stage acting and writing. From his earliest memories on stage to this latest achievement, it’s no secret he’s hooked on performing.
“I have loved acting for as long as I can remember, starting with simple school plays (starring as one of the puppy-dogs in the background) then, with the help of several group acting classes, I slowly worked my way up to bigger and more polished productions.
The thing about acting that I love so much is the surrender in losing yourself inside of a character and the interaction that characters can have with the audience. There’s something magical about an ensemble of people on stage who can tell a story so well that people sitting in the audience not only start to believe them, but care for them and want to see what happens next.
Johnston’s passion was evident in his last-minute audition which came about after The Art House approached his school about drama workshops and JBS auditions coming to the venue.
“I heard about the audition from my Drama teacher. She’s so wonderful and is always looking out for opportunities for her students. I told her I was interested, applied last-minute, and two days later I was auditioning!”
The Art House Executive Director Anne-Marie Heath said her team was thrilled to learn a local auditionee had been named a 2023 JBS recipient.
“One of our core objectives within our education portfolio is to provide opportunities for Central Coast students to engage with the arts as patrons, but also as artists. Pathway programs like the JBS are incredibly important, which is why The Art House brought the auditions to our region. We had students audition from a handful of local high schools, the local home schoolers network and even had students travel from the Hunter to participate. We are proud to have been able to facilitate this opportunity for Luke and wish him all the best with his time at Bell HQ.”
In a full circle moment, Bell will return to The Art House with A Midsummer Night’s Dream this June, along with the 2024 JBS auditions, with dates to be announced later this year.
With his time at Bell HQ drawing near, Johnston had the following words of wisdom for any Coasties thinking of auditioning for the JBS 2024: “Just take the jump. There’s nothing to lose from the experience and everything to gain. So why not? Learn your monologue back to front but be ready to change it completely. Look at it from unique and sometimes absurd angles and remember that you love acting regardless of what happens. Have fun and break a leg!”