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ALRA drama graduates won the Sir Alec Guinness Memorial Award

The ALRA are extremely proud that, for two years running, the prestigious Sir Alec Guinness Memorial Award was presented to two of our alumni. In 2011 the deserving recipient was Raj Bajaj, who was presented with the award by the amazing actress Celia Imrie.

Since winning the award Raj has gone on to great things: appearing in The Snow Queen at the Unicorn Theatre, playing Balthasar for the RSC in their production of Much Ado About Nothing, making his Royal Court debut in The Djinns of Eidgah, the National Theatre’s Treasure Island, BBC’s Doctor Who and now wowing the West End once again in the smash hit musical Bend It Like Beckham.

The 2010 award was also presented to the talented Kirsty McDuff who has been constantly in demand for both film and stage roles, including Portia in Julius Caesar, Ailsa in The Isle of Skye, Blonde in Wake Me Up In the Morning, Lesley in Talking Heads, Billie Holiday/Ava Gardner in A Man and His Music and Ruth in Tribes.

The Sir Alec Guinness Memorial Award is hosted by the Catholic Association of Performing Arts and is given every year to one talented young actor who receives support for the coming 12 months with Spotlight and Equity membership and vouchers towards classes at the Actors Centre.

Sir Alec Guinness was one of the top British actors of the 20th century, alongside the likes of John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier. His career spanned over 70 years and included not only stage but film appearances that are now legendary, such as Fagin in David Lean’s Oliver Twist, Colonel Nicholson in Bridge Over the River Kwai and, of course, Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Early in his career he converted to Catholicism and his faith stayed with him until his death in 2000. In this capacity, he served as Vice President of the Catholic Association of Performing Arts, an organisation that provide chaplaincy service for people working in the performing arts sector and encourage members to stage productions in aid of charitable causes.