July 12, 2011


After three and half years of Artistic Directorship of Long Cloud Youth Theatre, Willem Wassenaar is handing over the leadership of the company to Aaron Cortesi. During Willem’s time with Long Cloud, the company has grown into an ambitious training and production company where talented young actors can develop their theatrical skills through practical performance experience and the opportunity to work with New Zealand’s foremost directors and tutors.

Long Cloud has proven to be a hothouse of New Zealand’s most exciting young acting talent, and many of the students have gone on to professional careers in the performance arts industry and further training establishments like Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. Willem has taught over 120 students and during his time Long Cloud produced 17 productions, ranging from classics from the world repertoire to commissioned new work by NZ playwrights.

“Long Cloud has been my most significant and satisfying undertaking of my career so far. Seeing people develop into their potential and them making huge differences in so many different areas, has been a very rewarding experience. I look forward to Aaron coming with a fresh energy and vision, and feel hugely excited by the prospect of him shaping the company into the future. I want to thank my key collaborators and supporters who assisted me with the artistic adventures of the company. Their work and investments have been invaluable for the growth of the company,” says current Artistic Director Willem Wassenaar.

Aaron Cortesi’s interest is in upholding and growing those values that have made Long Cloud an amazing training ground. He is especially excited in the development of original NZ work and community collaboration outside the theatre environment. He will continue to work in partnership with Whitireia New Zealand and various Wellington theatres like Downstage Theatre and BATS Theatre. Aaron brings in a whole new range of practitioners and alliances to the company from his professional practice and is very much looking forward to the challenging role of Artistic Director. Aaron and Whitireia New Zealand acknowledge Willem for his exceptional vision and passion as leader of Long Cloud and wish him all the best overseas.

Long Cloud Youth Theatre is run by Whitireia New Zealand. It is a unique training and production company for young actors aged 16-21 years. Long Cloud is based in Wellington, New Zealand.

Long Cloud Youth Theatre is a hothouse for New Zealand’s most exciting young acting talent. Long Cloud, run by Whitireia Performing Arts Company and based in Wellington, is a unique training and production company for young people aged 16-21. Entering its sixth year in 2011, the members of the Company get intensive training in movement, voice and acting by various tutors as well as working on stage productions throughout the year. Company credits are THE LARAMIE PROJECT (2011), SHEEP (2011), THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING (2011), DAUGHTERS OF HEAVEN (2011), EQUUS (2010), THE SEAGULL (2010), VERNON GOD LITTLE (2010), TITUS ANDRONICUS (2009), THE CRUCIBLE (2009), GRIMM & COLONY! (2008 & 2009) and SPRING AWAKENING (2008).


Aaron Cortesi is a 2005 graduate of the Bachelor of Performing Arts in Acting at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. Currently he is completing a Master of Theatre Arts in Directing at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and Victoria University of Wellington. Aaron has been a performer/creator of both stage and screen for the past several years.

Recent credits include Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants (Downstage Theatre/Stab 10), Giggles Live (Capital E National Arts Festival/Gibson Group), Mark Twain and Me in Maoriland (International Arts Festival, Erupt), Goodnight the End by Jo Randerson, Paua (SEEyD Company) Heat(Stab 09), Mr Marmalade (Chapman Tripp Production of the Year) and Settling (Stab 08). For his work in Mark Twain and Settling Aaron received Chapman Tripp nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Most Promising New Actor. Aaron is a founding member of A Slightly Isolated Dog theatre company and an associate of Taki Rua, Barbarian Productions and Portable Union.

For more information, please contact Aaron Cortesi: 027 255 3179 / longcloudyouththeatre@gmail.com   

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