Two young men are the latest actors to receive the Brett Goldin Bursary award, a fund created in memory of slain gay actor Brett Goldin.

Nearly two years after the brutal murders of Goldin and his friend, fashion designer Richard Bloom, the young actor’s memory was again honoured on Saturday, at the Baxter Theatre Centre, when Thami Mbongo and Nicholas Pauling were selected as winners in the 2008 Brett Goldin Bursary awards.

Goldin was murdered just days before he was due to leave for Stratford-upon-Avon, where he was to perform the role of Guildenstern in the Baxter Theatre Centre’s production of Hamlet at the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival.

The Brett Goldin Bursary was founded immediately by the Royal Shakespeare Company in England, The Actors Centre in Johannesburg and the Baxter Theatre Centre in Cape Town.

Mbongo is the winner of the 2007 Aardklop Best Actor award for Lara Foot Newton’s Karoo Moose, which he shares with the ensemble cast, and is also nominated as Best Supporting Actor in the 2007 Fleur du Cap Awards. His play, Township Talks, which he wrote and directed, is currently at the Ikhwezi Theatre Festival in the Baxter Sanlam Studio.

Pauling was nominated as Best Actor at last years’ Fleur du Cap awards for his performance in the title role of Amadeus. He also played the role of the young professor, Nick, in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Baxter last year. Nicholas took over the role of Guildenstern in Hamlet, just days after Brett’s killing.

The two were chosen out of a shortlist of nine actors selected from 103 applicants countrywide. The final selection was made by a panel comprising of Janice Honeyman, Lizz Mills and Paul Savage, who were joined by Cape Town-born actor Sir Antony Sher, Greg Doran (Chief Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company) and Denise Goldin, mother of the slain actor.

The successful bursars will work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and will travel to the UK in June for three weeks. Their work programme will include activities such as attending warm-ups, solo and company voice and verse classes, any Artist Development workshops held during the visit, technical rehearsals and other rehearsals at the directors’ discretion, as well as sessions with a director or assistant director and the opportunity to attend Learning Department workshops.

The organisers of the Brett Goldin Bursary have decided to hold the event every second year, so the next call for applications is only expected in 2010 and will take place in Johannesburg.

Goldin and Bloom were brutally murdered in the early hours of Easter Sunday in 2006 following a hijacking and robbery. Two men, Shavaan Marlie and Clinton Davids, pled guilty to the murders and were each sentenced to 28 years in prison.

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