National Shakespeare Schools Production 2017

Te Aro Room, Mac’s Function Centre, Taranaki Street Wharf, Wellington

07/10/2017 - 07/10/2017

Wild Theatre, Wellington Zoo, Wellington

08/10/2017 - 08/10/2017

Production Details

Two and a half comedies  

Forty-eight students, eight days, five workshop tutors, three plays and directors, two public performances, and one playwright. This is Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ’s National Shakespeare Schools Production (SGCNZ NSSP) in numbers. But there is so much so much more to it than pure numbers. It is a week full of work, learning, laughter, personal development and the eternal words of the Bard.

These students were selected from the SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festivals 2017 and its allied Costume Design and Music Composition Competitions to attend SGCNZ NSSP 2017. This week-long theatre intensive offers secondary school students the opportunity to rehearse and perform abridged versions of three different Shakespeare plays with three high-calibre directors. Apart from honing their acting and performance skills and expanding their knowledge of the arts and Shakespeare, the students learn valuable life lessons and forge deep and lasting friendships.

Robin Payne will direct The Winter’s Tale with her group. Categorised as one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’, The Winter’s Tale walks a fine line between comedy, tragedy and romance. Robin has worked in theatre world for over fifty years. Apart from being an actor and director, she has also taught drama and voice for many years in New Zealand and overseas, most recently in Singapore for some time.She is the former Director of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School.

Peter Hambleton will be working with the students on Shakespeare’s crazy and fun play, The Comedy of Errors, in a 21st century setting!  Peter is not only an accomplished actor on stage and screen, having played the dwarf Gloin in The Hobbit Trilogy, but is also an extremely experienced theatre director. A former Shakespeare’s Globe International Actor Fellow in 2002, Peter directed the 2017 Wellington Summer Shakespeare production of All’s Well That Ends Well for which he received praise from audience and critics alike.

Eleanor Bishop, who will direct The Taming of the Shrew, is a New Zealand writer and director who is also active in the US theatre scene. She makes socially engaged and critical performances, aiming to reveal and explain oppressive social structures through audience participation. Her latest work is Jane Doe, a play about rape culture which she wrote over three years with the assistance of various US university campuses.

With these three exceptional theatre directors and the 48 enthusiastic young actors, the two public performances of those ‘two and a half comedies’ are promising to be a real delight. The first performance on Saturday 7 October, 7.30pm will be held at Mac’s Function Centre in the Te Aro Room, while the second one on Sunday 8 October, 2.00pm, will be at the Wild Theatre, Wellington Zoo.

Through continuous assessment, half of the troupe will have the exciting additional thrill of being selected to form SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company 2018, and will travel to the Globe in July next year to train and perform there.

Te Aro Room, Mac’s Function Centre, Taranaki Street Wharf, Wellington
Saturday 7th October 2017 at 7.30pm
Tickets: For Mac’s: $25-$12
Bookings: For Mac’s: via , door sales available (cash only)

Wild Theatre, Wellington Zoo
Sunday 8th October 2017 at 2.00pm
Tickets:  For the Zoo: $10-$2.50 + $15 p.p. for Zoo entry
Bookings: For the Zoo: via the SGCNZ office, E:, P: 04 384 1300

Find the booking form online under, pre-booking is essential, NO door sales

The Winter's Tale

Director: Robin Payne
Student Composer: Emily Clifford
Student Costumier: Tui Taiaroa-Smithies

Mamillius:  Nic Brosnahan
Series of Lords/Men; Leontes 3; Florizell:  James Cowan
Camillo:  Liam Dixon
Paulina 2, Dion:  Chanel Edwards
Story Teller; Paulina 3; Mariner:  Helena Goldsmith
Leontes 2; Clown:  Tate Gorton
Paulina 4: Emilia:  Melissa Hyde
Perdita; Gaoler:  Delstancia Katoa
Archidama; Shepherdess; 2nd Lady:  Caitlin McIntyre
Polixenes:  :  Flynn Mehlhopt
Antigonus; Shearer Musician:  Justyce Moala
Leontes 1 & 4:  Kent Norris
Hermione 2:  Tigerlily Perry
Hermione 1 & 3:  Isabella Pownall
Paulina 1; Cleomena:  Nyah Toomey

The Taming of the Shrew

Director:  Eleanor Bishop
Student Composer:  Emily Clifford
Student Costumier:  Tui Taiaroa-Smithies


Part 1 –
Petruchio 1:  Connor Charlesworth
Petruchio 2:  Elliott Andrews
Katharina 1:  Loren Whithair
Katharina 2:  Scarlett Kean
Hortensio:  Fletcher Oxford
Bianca:  Kate Jenkins
Grumio:  Liam Rowe
Baptista:  Max Beal
Tranio:  Ethan Balderston-Tumaru
Lucentio:  Izzy Sheild
Gremio:  Harry Nalder

Part 2 - After the wedding
Petruchio 1:  Mia Oudes
Petruchio 2:  India Lawrence
Katharina 1:  Fletcher Oxford
Katharina 2:  Liam Rowe
Katharina 3:  Ethan Balderston-Tumaru
Hortensio:  Sarah-Lené Hogg
Bianca:  Harry Nalder
Grumio:  Samantha McCutchan
Baptista:  Loren Whithair
Tranio:  Kate Jenkins
Lucentio:  Izzy Sheild
Widow:  Liam Rowe

The Comedy of Errors

Director:  Peter Hambleton
Assistant to the Director:  Charlie Grimsdale
Student Composer:  Emily Clifford
Student Costumier:  Tui Taiaroa-Smithies

Egeon:  Ben Stubbing
Duke Solinus:  Indigo Levett
Adriana:  Louis Boutle
Luciana:  Oliver Howlett
Emelia:  Ben Kelly
Dromio of Ephesus:  Jazzy Axton
Dromio of Syracuse:  Alexandra Briscoe
Antipholous/Ephesus:  Nicole Butterworth
Antipholous/Syracuse:  Krystal O'Gorman
Angelo:  Stephanie Ramlose
Officer:  Mel Logue
1st Merchant:  Andriette Erasmus
2nd Merchant:  Ellie Spurlock
Dr Pinch:  Thomas Hadley
Servant:  Thomas Laybourn
Courtesan:  Billy Thomas

The Compleat Works & Non Nobis Domine

Taught by:  Lesley Graham
Rehearsed by:   Ben Kelly
Performed by:    Full Company

Waiata ~ Tai Aroha

Taught & rehearsed by:  Ben Kelly & Indigo Levett
Performed by:  Full Company

Haka ~ Tika Tonu

Taught & rehearsed by:  Andriette Erasmus & Ben Kelly
Performed by:  Full Company 

Production and Technical Team
SGCNZ CEO & Organiser of NSSP: Dawn Sanders ONZM, QSM
Administrative Assistant:  Liz Weschenfelder  
Programme:  Liz Weschenfelder, Dawn Sanders, Rapid Copy 
Videographer:  Glass Gecko Films - Nigel Sanson
Photographer:  Brian Barrett
Stage Manager:  Jenna Kelly 
FOH & Ushers:  Volunteers  
Rehearsal Assistant:  Charlie Grimsdale
NSSP Assistant Supervisor:  Zoe Hancox-Monk
NSSP Local Travel Liaison:  Robert Gordon 
NSSP Drivers:  Bill Sheat, Colin Macintosh, Neil Coup, Charlie Grimsdale, Marc Rands, Mike Brady, Graeme Sanders
NSSP SGCNZ Alumni Volunteers:  Adam Herbert, Cael Friday, Dylan Hutton, Sophie Barrell, Phoebe Johnson, Lachlan Crane, Zoe Hancox-Monk
NSSP SGCNZ Volunteer:  Janice Campbell
German Intern – Volunteer:  Nadine Neumann
Office Casual Assistants:  Brian Pearl, Alison Stephens 
IT Advisor:  PCWiz2U - Gordon Shailer 
Website Designer:  The SunRoom - Charlie Evans

NSSP Workshop Tutors: 
Sir Jon Trimmer - Mime
Dr Hannah August - About the Plays
Lesley Graham – Singing
Brendan West – Stage Combat
Danny Mulheron – Film
Raymond Boyce MBE Hon LitD  

Youth , Theatre ,

A remarkable outcome

Review by John Smythe 08th Oct 2017

This year Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) has billed their National Shakespeare Schools Production (NSSP) as “Two and a half comedies” – presumably because The Winter’s Tale is also regarded as one of Shakespeare’s late romances. (Polonius might also have called it “tragical, comical, pastoral”.)

This will not be a full review; it’s not a professional-level production. While highly experienced professionals have directed the cleverly truncated works, and led workshops along with other professional tutors, each cast has only had five half-days actual rehearsal. My purpose is simply to put this event on the record because there is little doubt that, while all involved (see the full list here) will benefit from the experience in multiple ways, some will rise to particular prominence in various theatres of activity and spheres of life.

Jacinda Ardern, for example, performed in a regional festival in one of last century’s nationwide schools events (now known as the SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festivals; they began in 1992). Chris Bishop (National MP for Hutt South) is also an alumnus. Performing arts alumni include such luminaries as Melanie Lynskey, Cian Elyse White, Alex Tarrant, Paolo Rotondo, Nina Dekkers-Reihana … the list goes on.

The flat floor of the Te Aro Room in the Mac’s Function Centre presents acoustic and sightline challenges to performers and audiences alike. Seats are arranged on three sides, a brick wall forms the backdrop; actors need to be standing to be seen by all, and the more they shout the less they are heard. Mostly the performers and directors meet these challenges well. The Sunday performance happens at Wellington Zoo’s ‘Wild Theatre’. Usually used for amplified audio-visual presentations, it presents a whole new set of challenges for live performance. What a shame Wellington is not able to offer a better-appointed performance space for this vital – in every sense of the word – event. (The Hannah Playhouse, I note, is dark this weekend: could they not have stepped up as a sponsor?) 

To accommodate the 48 actor participants and give everyone a ‘fair go’, key characters are shared around, with simple costume elements designating the changes in role. As audience we have no problem following this.

Director Robin Payne uses the motif of a story being read to Prince Mamillius (son of King Leontes and Hermione) as a device for distilling The Winter’s Tale. All 15 of her cast deliver the text with intelligence, focus and commitment and, slowly but surely, the paranoia of Leontes comes through, pointing up the dreadful injustice of Hermione’s fate and the death-sentence imposed on their new-born daughter.

Lest we think Leontes’ ex best friend Polixines is also an innocent victim – being wrongly accused of impregnating Hermione – his own dire threats, 16 years later, in response to son Florizell’s love for a shepherdess called Perdita (16 – yes, join the dots) exposes his patriarchal classism. The coming to life of Paulina’s ‘statue’ of Hermione is simply done, to bring about the redemption, resolution and happy ending that allows The Winter’s Tale to be classified as a comedy.

It may seem counter-intuitive that Eleanor Bishop – having confronted rape culture with Boys (a revisiting of Greg McGee’s seminal Foreskin’s Lament) and the ground-breaking Jane Doe – has directed a distillation of The Taming of the Shrew. Her political input is simply to gender-reverse the Petruchio/Katharina casting after their wedding.  

Nine actors variously share the two roles and, as a general observation of the post-wedding phase, the women revel in embracing masculine traits while the men tend to be more superficial in exploring what it is to be a woman in an abusive relationship. There’s a strong echo of Trumpism in Petruchio’s claim that whatever he says is the truth. Katharina’s final speech of apparent capitulation is shared by most of the 15-strong ensemble, diluting somewhat the impact of the highly problematic ‘her hand under his boot’ moment. (I have seen this resolved just once, as a zen-like relinquishing of ego that somehow engenders mutual respect and trust, in direct contrast to deviousness of the Bianca/Lucentio relationship.)

While The Comedy of Errors is Shakespeare’s shortest play, its intricate plot, involving two sets of identical twins and much ensuing mistaking of identities, makes it difficult to trim. Director Peter Hambleton establishes the premise with melodramatic flair: Egeon, a merchant of Ephesus, searching for his wife and twin boys separated and lost at sea, is arrested as an illegal alien in Syracuse and sentenced to death unless he can pay the fine within 24 hours. This sets up the jeopardy and downward pressure designed to make the ensuing comedy meaningful.

High-energy performances follow. The oft-resorted to shouting is undermined by the aforementioned acoustics and the broad-yet-truthful essence of good commedia acting too often gives way to manic performances and speed at the expense of timing. Much of the time it’s a case of ‘can’t see (or hear) the play for the acting’. And because we are unable to invest in the characters and empathise with their situations, key comic moments evaporate. (Perhaps they’ll fare better at the Zoo venue.)

Nevertheless the youthful audience enjoys the hyped-up dynamics and the rap device for taking a time-leap. And even though we’ve been robbed of the opportunity heave a collective sigh of relief that all has ended well, the family-reunion resolution is played out with relative clarity and sensitivity.

Everyone comes together to offer beautifully sung renditions of ‘Non Nobis Domine’, ‘The Compleat Works’ and a wiata, ‘Te Aroha’, then round the evening off with a blistering haka, ‘Tika Tonu’: New Zealand’s rejoinder to the Elizabethan jig.

The whole event is a remarkable outcome for just one week of intensive work by students from all over the country. Their intelligent understandings of the texts, their bourgeoning performance skills and their exemplary ensemble work are heart-warming. The life-skills they learn, develop and consolidate at all levels of the SGCNZ enterprise have undoubted value: arguably more creative, useful and ‘win-win’ in the long-term than any sports tournament played at this level.

Some – about half – will become part of the 2018 SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company. All have already achieved a great deal and whatever they go on to do with their lives, I have little doubt that this experience has the potential to give back to them even more than they have given to it.  

The production page list of credits reveal how many people contribute to making NSSP happen and all involved readily acknowledge the indispensable ongoing commitment of indefatigable SGCNZ CEO Dawn Sanders ONZM QSM and Member of the Shakespeare Globe council, London.


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