ASPIRE record breaker from SFX Hamilton

If you have ever watched any of the brilliant ASPIRE performances, then you might have noticed a familiar face popping up in the cast each year – that of Ollie Crawford.

A student from St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton, Ollie is a true ASPIRE star - appearing in every single production since its launch in 2011.

ASPIRE is an audition-based drama, dance, music and performing arts program that invites talented students from across the diocese to come together to develop and enhance their skills through performance opportunities in vocal, instrumentation, drama, dance and strings.

With around 130 students selected through the audition process each year, students have the opportunity to participate in workshops and studio practice to advance not only their theatre skills, but also networking and teamwork abilities.

“Every year in ASPIRE we learn more and more about devising and play building, which I think is the most important aspect of drama that any young actor should learn,” said Ollie.

“It would be easy for the directors to just write a script and then that’s what we perform, but the whole drama ensemble is so heavily involved in the script development and our input is always highly valued.”

“My most typical role in any production is a high-energy, loud, funny character, but last year I played Sean in ‘The Hoarders Next Door’, a deeper and complex character that initially I found challenging to connect with. However, in the end, I found it most rewarding.”

As well as performing each year, Ollie has participated in various other workshops through the ASPIRE program, including the senior theatre-makers and script-writing programs.

Last year also saw him selected for the Australian Theatre for Young People’s Sydney festival immersion program where he spent a week in Sydney taking part in various workshops and building on his theatre skills.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I have made some of my closest friends at ASPIRE. You work alongside like-minded people with directors who push you to reach your potential.

“Going through every year, I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the most talented people in Newcastle. Every year we get another amazing cast to work with, with plenty of new faces and it’s always hard saying goodbye at the end of the show.

“I am so grateful to have been a part of this production for the past seven years. It has been an honour and the bonds I’ve made with both the cast and crew will stay with me for life. I can’t imagine the person I’d be today without ASPIRE,” said Ollie.

“The benefits of being involved in ASPIRE are so much more than skills development in the creative arts. It’s learning to work as a team, being challenged to be the best you can be, gaining confidence in yourself and developing creative problem solving skills,” said Anna Kerrigan, ASPIRE’s Artistic Director.

“You might be interested in performing, working behind the scenes, script writing, song writing or just keen to try something new; I can guarantee ASPIRE offers something for everyone,” she added.