WelCom May 2023
The SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival takes place annually. [SGCNZ is the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand.] Hundreds of students take part in regional events around the country.
A number of 15- and five-minute scenes from Shakespeare’s plays are presented. From each region only one 15-minute and one five-minute scene is selected to go through to the National Festival, which takes place over a weekend in Wellington – this year, 1–5 June. The festival includes workshops run by industry professionals and two days of the best performance pieces from around Aotearoa.
The Taranaki regional is held in Stratford, where students perform on the grand King’s Theatre stage, which has been in operation since 1919. Students from New Plymouth’s Sacred Heart Girls’ College Senior Drama class and St Frances Douglas College participated.
‘For 21 students and one teacher, it has been a very busy term of editing, refining, rehearsing and polishing to get four performance pieces ready for public staging,’ says Heather Ashton, Drama teacher at Sacred Heart. ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet were all 15-minute entries performed in a comic style and Macbeth was a five-minute, serious entry. Three of these pieces have been invited to go down to the Nationals.
‘Students thoroughly enjoy the National Festival and even those not invited to participate in it will attend to watch and support the performances and take part in the workshops. A testament to the event’s success is that students request to re-enter this festival from year to year and to include it in their course curriculum.’
Gabriel Gerente, of Francis Douglas Memorial College, won the 2023 direct entry selection for Taranaki Region. Gabriel will have an opportunity to perform in October with a view to selection to travel to the Globe in London next year.
Go to www.sgcnz.org.nz for more information about the National Festival.