A YOUNG Nelson Mandela Bay actress has been recognised for her talent and crowned the best performer among fellow Eastern Cape drama pupils.
Talented Grade 11 Collegiate High School pupil Caitlin Wiggill, 17, won a R35000 bursary towards the studies of her choice after being crowned best performer at this year's FNB Alexander Playhouse Eastern Cape High School Drama Festival.
The awards were held on Friday at the Guild Theatre in East London.
The festival was started three years ago with a handful of entries. This year it had attracted 20 high school drama groups, officials said.
Award-winning actor, playwright and theatre and television producer Deon Opperman adjudicated the eight provincial finalists and chose the top three winners.
Port Elizabeth's Pearson High School took first place with its production, Exhibit X, winning R10000.
Hudson Park High in East London took second place for Thandi: A pastoral story.
Third place went to Collegiate High School for Girls for Backstage Politics.
A special developmental drama award for the best play in a developmental category was made to Molteno High School, for Mine Workers, winning it R10000.
Caitlin, who lives in Kamma Park, Port Elizabeth, said winning the bursary was unexpected.
"I haven't even decided if I want to study drama or psychology after high school," she said.
"Winning was crazy. I wasn't expecting to win at all. This has been a huge opportunity and winning was unexpected and amazing. I thought my parents were going to cry. My friends were all excited and really supportive when I won."
Festival director Michele Brandenburger said Caitlin was "very talented, versatile and has a lovely stage presence".
Caitlin, who does drama as a school subject and at the Rother Swain Drama Studio, and fellow drama pupil Amy Annear wrote Backstage Politics, a play based on the behind-the- scenes action at the making of the 2002 film, Chicago.
English teacher Jessamy Kromhout helped with directing the cast of five.
Caitlin's character, Velma Kelly, is "vindictive, self-centred and domineering".
"The play is exciting. It shows the element of complete rivalry and how every actor wants to be successful and is out to make it big for themselves," she said.
This was the first time Caitlin had written a script for the stage. She said the 20-minute script took a lot of hard work.
"I had written monologues before for drama assignments, but never for stage."
Caitlin has been taking drama lessons since Grade 5. She has also acted alongside her dad, Selwyn, in last year's pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, and said her talent for acting "comes from my dad".
She started singing in Grade 8 as first soprano for the school choir and is the head of the Eastern Cape Youth Choir.
Caitlin's mom, Cassandra, said her family was proud of her.