Borders actor Alister lands place at prestigious MGA Academy

Alister Borthwick, centre, from Ettrickbridge.
Alister Borthwick, centre, from Ettrickbridge.

A young Ettrickbridge performer has taken a big step towards his dream career by gaining a place at one of the country’s leading performing arts academies.

Alister Borthwick will begin full-time training for a professional stage career in September after landing a coveted place on an acting course at The MGA Academy of Performing Arts in Edinburgh.

Alister Borthwick.

Alister Borthwick.

The 23-year-old impressed staff at the academy during an intensive audition and was delighted when, days later, he received a letter of acceptance that allows him to remain in Scotland while studying at a level equivalent to prestigious London schools.

In preparation for his application to study acting full-time, Alister has performed with Selkirk Amateur Operatic Society in their last two productions.

He also enrolled on dance masterclasses with Murray Grant, the world-renowned choreographer and co-founder of The MGA Academy.

“I’m completely over the moon,” Alister said. “Since I opened the letter, I’ve been in nothing but shock, horror and disbelief.

“I’m raring to go!

“My friend went to study at The MGA Academy and I started to go to the school’s shows in Edinburgh.

“I did some dance classes with Murray and knew I had to go there. His training is world-class.

“I then did some private classes with Molly Innes, who is head of the school’s acting course, and she gave me the confidence to audition.

“They’re all magical people at The MGA Academy – they just fix you.”

After studing at Galashiels Academy, Alister went on to study social care at Borders College, but has always known that acting is his dream job.

“I love singing and dancing, but I was always particularly fascinated by acting,” he added. “When I went to see Wicked at The Playhouse in Edinburgh when I was younger, I found the body language of The Wicked Witch phenomenal; it’s storytelling with your body and I want to explore that.

“Ideally, I’d like to be in TV and film. The theatre is my home and I’d never turn down an opportunity to get on stage.”

In 2018, The MGA Academy became the first full-time professional training academy in Scotland to be awarded accreditation by professional dance, drama and musical theatre industry bodies.

Drew Gowland, co-founder and managing director of The MGA Academy, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Alister onto one of our full-time acting courses. For more than a decade, we have been providing students like Alister with exceptional training on par with London’s leading dance and drama schools.

“We are currently holding auditions for courses starting in September 2019 and have already received more applications than ever before. We have had hopefuls from all over the UK and across Europe apply to audition so far and would welcome applications from people from the Borders with similar aspirations to Alister.”