Paul was very active in Central Coast theatre for many years, both as an actor and behind the scenes. As time passed he became more interested in the technical aspects of theatre and was particularly involved with creating and implementing soundscapes for many local shows. He regularly helped out at XtrAct Drama Academy, especially their end of year shows, and made a strong impression on teachers and students alike. So much so that XtrAct principal, Danielle Brame-Whiting, was prompted to institute a scholarship award in his honour. Shortly before he passed away last year, Danielle wrote asking for permission to name the award after Paul and, after some persuasion from both Danielle and myself, he humbly gave his consent. I’d like to share with you all part of the email that Danielle wrote to him on that occasion:
“I would like to initiate an annual award for one student who exemplifies the traits of : a love of performing arts, kindness and thoughtfulness towards classmates and teachers, excellence in team work, a tendency to go above and beyond what is needed of them as a student, a performer, a classmate and a friend. This will be awarded at the end of each year and will cover fees for one student for an entire year. I would like to name it The Paul Ractliffe Scholarship and am after your blessing. You’ve been such an amazing support to XtrAct and I couldn’t think of any better patron.”
Danielle later explained: “My aim was to create an award not only named after him and honouring him, but also awarded to individuals who displayed the personal traits which remind me of him.”
Paul had hoped to attend last year’s end of year performance but, sadly, passed away shortly beforehand. I attended in his place then, and again this year, and I was thrilled to witness the awarding of the scholarship and to meet the two young ladies who were its first recipients:
2015: AMY SEABORN
Danielle says of Amy, “she has been with XtrAct for four years and has just completed her HSC at Narara Valley High School. She is an intelligent and passionate young woman whose fierce determination has never superseded her ability support and compliment those around her. In her time with XtrAct, Amy has been both student in her own classes and a teacher’s aide in some of our junior classes. Her calmness and focus have been a great help to the young students, especially when she has joined them onstage. Amy’s talent and wicked sense of humour partner beautifully with her compassion and care for her classmates and teachers. Her love of the performing arts is evident in everything she does and XtrAct is a better institution for having her with us.”
2016: PAIGE STEELE
“Paige has been studying drama with XtrAct Drama Academy for four years,” says Danielle. “We have watched her grow from a quietly spoken, shy girl, into a confident young woman. One of Paige’s strengths is her understanding of the importance of collaboration and team work in the theatrical arts. She has not only volunteered to help both on and offstage at our junior shows, but also volunteered behind the scenes at Wyong Drama Group and Jopuka Productions. Paige is a passionate, funny, talented individual with a natural talent for balanced leadership. She is always one of the first to offer an assist in class and usually one of the last to leave. XtrAct is so proud to participate in Paige’s life journey and couldn’t think of a more deserving winner for this year’s Paul Ractliffe Memorial Scholarship.”
Amy and Paige with Danielle.
Many congratulations, Amy and Paige, and my thanks to you both, and to Danielle,
for honouring Paul’s memory so beautifully.
(Images provided courtesy of Danielle Brame-Whiting,
principal of XtrAct Drama Academy)