SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production 2021

Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

10/10/2021 - 10/10/2021

Sky Stadium, 105 Waterloo Quay, Pipitea, Wellington

09/10/2021 - 09/10/2021

Production Details


Covid-willing, 46 young people selected from Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand’s 24 Regional and National University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festivals will descend on St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, with the Supreme Winners of SGCNZ’s Costume Design and Music Composition Competitions for SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production week at the beginning of October.

Divided into 3 groups, the students will work on 40 minutes of scenes from 3 plays, Romeo & Juliet, Measure for Measure and Henry IV Part I, directed by Grace Hoet, Tom McCrory and Jonathon Price respectively. The challenge for the 15-18 year olds is, in 5 half days, being cast, learning lines and rehearsing, culminating in a public performance at the Sky Stadium (inside!) on 9 October, and a second one at a very prestigious venue, by invitation only, the following day.

With fight scenes being prevalent in a number of Shakespeare plays, learning how to perform these safely makes the Stage Combat Workshop, taken by Simon Manns, an obvious inclusion. Heightened awareness of effective but safe contact means the Intimacy one, taken by Lori Leigh, is also vital for these young people. Grace Hoet will take one on Maori Culture in Theatre Awareness. Voice and singing, dance, historical context and acting techniques will be covered in others.

In these anxiety-filled times, one of the most significant outcomes of the SGCNZ NSSP week is the camaraderie and long-term friendships and support networks which are established.

“Whether it is helping each other through difficult times and sharing strategies, or developing new works and performance co-ops, or being given opportunities to develop and share their skills as they progress in life, NSSP over the years has provided ‘safety nets’, personal and professional development,” said SGCNZ CEO, Dawn Sanders.

Half of the group will be chosen to, hopefully, go to Shakespeare’s Globe in London in the middle of next year as members of SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company.

Scenes from Romeo & Juliet, Measure for Measure, Henry IV Part 1

Sky Stadium, Wellington
Saturday 9 October 2021

Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre – 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown
Sunday 10 October 2021

The performances should be considered works-in-progress, with the process being more important than attempting to unrealistically achieve a brilliant finished product in this short time, especially for the 10 last-minute replacements of the Aucklanders who were sadly Covid-compromised.

Huge appreciation to the intense work of our Directors, 2 of whom were new too*:
Mel Cook*, Peter Hambleton*, Tom McCrory

Romeo & Juliet

Director:  Mel Cook
Assistant Directors:  Saskya Max and Phoebe Rolleston
Student Costumier:  River Charteris-Wright
Student Composer:  Lauren Doherty

John Brunning-Tate:  Papa Capulet
Inaya Sinclair:  Lady Capulet
Stacey Hayes:  Tybalt Capulet
Brooke McCloy:  Juliet Capulet (I)
Matthew Lee:  Juliet Capulet (II)
Lawson Elmslie:  Nurse to the Capulets
Saskya Max:  Papa Montague
Taliah Edgecombe-Pearse:  Balthasar Montague
Emma Uhlenberg:  Benvolio Montague
Ngahuia Riddell:  Romeo Montague (I)
Darius Martin-Baker:  Romeo Montague (II)
Phoebe Rolleston:  Captain Prince
Hayden McWha:  Paris Prince
Ethan Speers:  Mercutio Prince
Nadi Figur-Ambler:  Laurence
All other parts played by members of the company

Henry IV Pt1

Director:  Peter Hambleton
Student Costumier:  River Charteris-Wright
Student Composer:  Lauren Doherty

Zac Bell:  Prince Hal 1, Hostess
Chloé Bothwell:  Poins, Blunt
Ella Brown:  Gadshill, Worcester
Laura Cowles:  Falstaff 3, Security Guard
Alyssa Dalope:  Lady Mortimer, Prince Hal 2, Security Guard
Taya Flame-Sparrow:  Falstaff 2
Nicholas Harman:  Bardolph, Prince Hal 4
Maia Hulton-Harrison:  King Henry, Security Guard
Mahanga Mitchell:  Owen Glendower, Security Guard
James Morland:  Falstaff 1
Mia Page:  Lord Mortimer, Security Guard
Lucien Panting:  Peto
Zia Rogers:  Harry Percy, ‘Hotspur’
Matthew Whitwell:  Lady Kate Percy, Vintner, Security Guard
Heather Wright:  Security Guard, Prince Hal 3
All other parts to be played by the Company


Measure for Measure

Director:  Tom McCrory
Student Costumier:  River Charteris-Wright
Student Composer:  Lauren Doherty

Sheryl Chand, Penelope Hare, Eden Peters, Nadia Officer, Samantha Goodchild, Siobhan Schuster
Solomone ’Ahio, Harry White, Daniel Honey, Tutukangahau Teepa
Claudio  Jack Cullen, Heretini Fidow
Lucio:  Taygen Elliot, Coryn Shuker
Duke Vincentio:  Eden Denyer
Escalus:  Abigail McCaffrey
Katharina, Tranio:  Maeischa Fox

Song ~ Non Nomis Domine

Taught by:  Lesley Graham
Rehearsed by:  Daniel Honey
Performed by:  Full Company

Waiata ~ Tutira Mai 
Taught & rehearsed by:  Heretini Fidow & Tutakangahau Teepa 
Performed by:  Full Company

Youth , Theatre ,

A platform to showcase talent, connect as a community, diversify skills and have fun

Review by Emilie Hope 11th Oct 2021

Despite COVID-19, Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) has done it again – producing the National Shakespeare Schools Production (NSSP) 2021. The 40-minute excerpts are rehearsed over five half days, with students attending workshops with local Shakespeare professionals and performance specialists over the other half days. This year, at Sky Stadium, we see scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Henry IV Part 1 and Measure for Measure, finishing with a song, a waiata and a haka.

This year has been hit just as hard as last year by COVID-19, especially with the changing of levels and rules. 11 performers had to be replaced last minute, due to their residing in Level 3 zones, and two directors were replaced. When Covid-related issues suddenly parliament buildings withdrawn for the scheduled second performance, Dawn Sanders, the CEO of SGCNZ, had to scramble to find another venue (Te Whaea happily opened its doors). Due to some of the performers being replaced, some of the actors read from scripts, which is something, I am told, they felt embarrassed by; nevertheless they maintain a great connection to their audience and their characters. Well done.

The first excerpt is from Romeo and Juliet, directed by Mel Cook, one of the directors who stepped in to replace the former director. We start with a tableau, showcasing the story as Captain Prince (Phoebe Rolleston) presents the prologue. The players create a lively and fun atmosphere with singing ‘Wanna Be’ (by the Spice Girls) down the aisles and wearing outrageous costume pieces like hot pink pants.

This version of Romeo and Juliet has two sets of the titular couple. First, Ngahuia Riddell gives a lively Romeo and Brooke McCloy shows off Juliet’s sweet and demure side. Riddell doesn’t deepen their voice to try to be more masculine and therefore is not playing Romeo as a boy. It is refreshing to see them as a queer couple on stage, professing their love to each other – we even get a queer kiss! Brava to Riddell and McCloy, as on-stage kissing can be a daunting task for any actor.

The second couple are Darius Martin-Baker as Romeo and Mathew Lee as Juliet. The transition between the couples is expertly realised at the wedding scene, with the actors ceremoniously removing a character-identifying piece of clothing and dressing the new actors in them. This signifies to the audience that after Romeo and Juliet are married, they are different people, bound to each other. It also helps us understand in a visual way why Romeo doesn’t want to attack Tybalt initially, because he has become his cousin by marriage. Martin-Baker does a great job showing the liveliness of Romeo, like his counterpart Riddell, but is also given the opportunity to show his hot-headedness. Although Lee is dressed in similar clothes to McCloy – a pleated skirt and a sweater vest – Lee doesn’t change the pitch of his voice to play Juliet as a girl. He speaks normally, giving greater nuance to this version of the character, one that is proudly genderqueer, as indicated by the costuming (by River Chateris-Wright).

While both Romeos wear a purple shirt under their leather jacket, overall, I do wish there were stronger visual links to divide the Capulets from the Montagues. Outside of the Romeos, there are only small purple or silver bandanas displayed as arm bands or around necks to signify the two gangs.

The next play is Henry IV Part 1, directed by Peter Hambleton, who also stepped in at the last minute. In this version, there are a couple of interesting choices. For one, instead of the original Welsh which Owen Glendower (Mahanga Mitchell) speaks, and Lady Mortimer (Alyssa Dalope) speaks and sings, we have te reo Māori. I find this incredibly compelling and wish more New Zealand productions of Shakespeare in particular, which can be played in many ways and adaptions, incorporate te reo Māori and therefore help us explore our colonial past.

Another interesting choice is to have multiple Prince Hals (Zac Bell, Alyssa Dalope, Heather Wright, and Nicholas Harman) and Falstaffs (James Morland, Taya Flame-Sparrow, Laura Cowles). Sometimes the transitions between the actors are clear and work well, like ripping off a ‘Prince Hal’ sticker and slapping it on the new actor’s chest, or having the Falstaffs in a red dressing gown. However, the stickers weren’t large and obvious, and it takes me a while to work out who is whom. Perhaps a hat of some description could have been used as Prince Hal’s character signifier. Overall, this piece is fun with a sombre finish as Prince Hal is forced to stop messing around and act like the prince he is, in political discourse.

After an intermission, the final play is Measure for Measure, directed by Tom McCrory. This is the most theatrical of the performances. The actors create soundscapes to set the tone, and the costumes are clear and striking: masculine black or feminine white. Two characters are played by multiple actors as a group: Isabella (Sheryl Chand, Penelope Hare, Eden Peters, Nadia Officer, Samantha Goodchild, Siobhan Schuster) and Angelo (Solomone ’Ahio, Harry White, Daniel Honey, Tutukangahau Teepa). Others are duos: Claudio (Jack Cullen, Heretini Fidow) and Lucio (Taygen Elliot, Coryn Shuker). However, as they all share the same costume – those playing Isabella, the almost nun and sister of Claudio, wear white skirts and white cloth headwear reminiscent of a habit – it is easy to keep track of who is whom.

In Measure for Measure, sex and, in this case, Isabella’s virginity, is used as a bargaining chip and men abuse their power in requesting it. After Claudio is imprisoned and given a death sentence for impregnating his fiancée outside of wedlock, Angelo offers to pardon Claudio if Isabella sleeps with him (Angelo). Isabella, of course, flat out refuses and when she explains to Claudio what has happened, and he asks her to take the deal, she launches into an impassioned speech (Nadia Officer and Eden Peters deliver an exceptional performance) highlighting the abuse of power both men exhibit. However, it ends with Claudio’s remorse and accepting his fate.

Performing this today in the twenty-first century world gives me inklings of the Me Too movement, where we ask men in positions of power to take responsibility for their actions and demand justice for women. A full-fledged version of this play would not go amiss.

The full company sing Non Nomis Domine with beautiful harmonies, followed by an exceptional waiata Tutira Mai, and finishing with a haka Maunganui. These performances send shivers down my spine: a wonderful way to end an evening of Shakespeare.

Dawn Sanders and the SGCNZ team have given these students a platform to showcase their talent, to connect as a community, to diversify their skills (much needed when entering the New Zealand theatre industry), and to have fun and have done so for the last 30 years. I’m glad this opportunity exists for young people and I hope SGCNZ is able to continue their work for another 30 years at least.


Editor October 12th, 2021

For the record, four full productions of Measure for Measure have been produced and reviewed by Theatreview in the past few years:

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