A Kuranui student has been selected for the National Shakespeare School’s Production 2017 and has the chance to be picked to perform in the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand’s (SGCNZ) Young Shakespeare Company at the Globe in London.
It was Tommy Laybourn’s outstanding performance in his supporting role as ‘Simondes’ in ‘Pericles: The Prince of Tyre’ that won over selectors at the recent Sheilah Winn Shakespeare national finals. A role that also gained him an award for the performance.
The Kuranui Head Boy is one of 20 students selected from the finals to take part in a week-long workshop during the spring holiday in early October.
Laybourn began dancing at the age if 5, but his performance and arts teacher, Juanita McLellan believes it’s his total commitment that has made him a stand out.
“When you see Tommy on stage in his role he is 100% committed to what’s going on, he’s never just standing there,” she explained. “He’s very enigmatic
on stage and he’s very captivating.
“You’re drawn to him because he moves very well. It’s more than his background in dancing, it’s because he thinks a lot about what he’s doing, he puts a lot of effort into it.
“In his role as Simondes, he spent many hours working on just taiaha before going to the finals to get everything absolutely accurate. It matters to Tommy to get it right.”
Laybourn really enjoyed the cultural side of his performance. “At first I was doing something without any training. I watched YouTube videos and I had researched and looked at karakias and taiaha before I went to the regionals, but I didn’t really know it that well because I’d never been taught it,” he acknowledged.
“But between regionals and nationals we had an ex-Kuranui student come in and he taught me some taiaha moves. I practiced that so much.
“I thought the ti tikanga māori was important to get right because you didn’t want to do something that’s not culturally authentic or accurate in front of all the people.
The last time a Kuranui student performed at the Globe was in 2014 when Civic Cruz was selected to travel to London, 10 years before that Melissa Reeve was chosen.
“The selectors will be looking for people from the group who can work together with other people, be helpful and all that stuff to select them to perform at the Globe, in London,” said McLellan.
“New Zealand students are the only school students in the entire world who get a chance to perform on the actual Globe stage, everybody else has to go through either the Royal Shakespeare Company or the Globe Theatre.”
Laybourn said getting the call from Dawn Sanders, the CEO of SGCNZ was like getting a call from the Simon Cowell of Shakespeare. “I was at work at the Pod in Greytown, my phone had been on silent and I just got back from walking the kids.
“There was text from Mrs McLellan and all it said was ‘Yay!’. Then there was a missed call from an unknown number and another text from Dawn saying ‘When can I call you? It’s urgent’ and I was like no way, that just seems too crazy,” Laybourn said.
“Performing will be awesome I just can’t wait to do that! It’s going to be incredible!” he added.