Students from Kuranui College spent the long weekend performing at the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival in Wellington, and at the same time scored themselves a VIP invite to meet the Governor-General, Her Excellency Dame Patsy Reddy, before picking up a very special award.
Run by the Shakespeare Globe Company NZ (SGCNZ), the three-day festival proved a good opportunity for the students to attend a number of workshops and to perform their interpretation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.
The weekend started with the invitation to attend a festival reception, alongside 300 drama students hosted at Government House. “We nearly didn’t make the guest list, but were luckily added at the last minute,” explained Kuranui’s performing arts teacher, Juanita McLellen.
The reception incorporated a little drama of its own when a fire alarm went off and the fire brigade turned up, fortunately a disaster of Shakespearean proportions was averted and the reception eventually resumed after the all clear.
Over the weekend, the drama students went to several workshops run by theatre personnel, including Peter Hambleton and Rangimoana Taylor, they also had an opportunity to listen to Allen Henry, spent time with the team from Waiora, and the actors from Still Life with Chickens.
McLellan struggled to put into words how proud she was of her students. “They won an award for most co-operative school,” she explained. “They were always on hand to hang notices, carry boxes, set up tables, change furniture, help others out, clean up, open doors, and congratulate everyone. I loved seeing how they were so happy to go up to others and say what they liked specifically about a performance.”
Dawn Sanders, SGCNZ CEO, said it was a huge pleasure to present the award to such a fantastic bunch of young people. “The troupe were always there and helped so very willingly.”
In July, McLellen and former student, Tommy Laybourn, will be heading over to London to perform Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale on the stage at the Globe Theatre.