February 9, 2024

Thirty years ago this year, the Globe Theatre Hangings, made by 500 embroiderers throughout the motu, were officially unveiled on the mock-up stage in the partially reconstructed Globe in London as a gift from the people of New Zealand. Back then, in 1994, even many of the taxi drivers in London did not even know where the new Globe was located.

Since it opened in 1997, over 600 Rangatahi have been selected to go there as members of our SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Companies and another 100 through Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ’s other programmes for teachers, mid-career actors and emerging practitioners. Since then they, and their extensive whanau, teachers and friends, and SGCNZ, have created a buzz about the Globe throughout NZ and globally.

With the new academic year beginning, auditions and rehearsals are moving into full swing for SGCNZ’s 2024 Regional University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festivals. Rangatahi from Year 7 to 13, whether at school, homeschooled or in community youth groups, are letting “their imaginary forces work” as they invigorate 5- and 15-minute scenes from any of Shakespeare’s plays in machinations relevant to them, life and the world in general, and a few, traditionally. Adults may direct the 15-minute scenes.

Whether exploring through role-play myriad issues Shakespeare presents, making statements regarding historical or cultural events, or enjoying a romp with some of his colourful characters, engaging with the Bard has educational, artistic and manaaki – personal and professional development opportunities.

From a pool of several thousand in the Regional Festivals held by the end of Term I mid-April, several hundred in 2 scenes from each region attend the National Festival in Wellington for 5 days over King’s Birthday weekend. An enriching schedule, developing their pukenga – life skills – ensures that every session of workshops, tours, talks and watching each other perform, is full of learning experiences and a growth in their ‘kith and kin’ – whānau.

Distilled to just 46 young actors and student directors, plus a winner from our Costume Design and Music Composition Competitions, the next stage is a 9-day intensive course, SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production. This year it will be held in Dunedin in the Term III holidays, from 28 September to 6 October, complete with more workshops, rehearsals and public performances. Just half of these Rangatahi are chosen to form SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company 2025.

This year’s SGCNZ YSC troupe, which comprises almost 50% Māori students, travel to the Globe in July.

“Now in their 33rd year, the Festivals have engaged with 134,500 Rangatahi and over 7000 more in our other programmes,” commented SGCNZ CEO Dawn Sanders, “It is very exciting to follow the successes of so many of them in a plethora of occupations, including Alumnus Hon Chris Bishop!”

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