TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland

05/12/2012 - 08/12/2012

Production Details

Young Cast Tackles Timeless Shakespeare Love Story 

Among the textured landscape of punks and Goths, lycra and fluro wear, brick cellphones and enormous shoulder pads, we meet high flying CEO Baptista Minola; solo mother of two complicated daughters who juggles the feminist dream of a successful career with raising a family. Can the modern 80’s woman cope with it all or is this a family environment that creates a Shrew; a young woman who struggles with the changing definition of a woman’s role in a man’s world?

The Young Auckland Shakespeare Company bursts onto the scene with their debut production of The Taming of the Shrew, set amongst a rich palette of design influenced by Siouxsie Sioux, the Sex Pistols, Grange Hill, Dynasty, and any 80’s rom com you care to remember. Playing to the strengths of the cast (aged 14 to 20), this classic love story is brought to life through the angst and antics of public school teenagers.

YASC founder Rita Stone directs the inaugural event. She is an actor, tutor and director who travelled to London last year with the Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ’s (SGCNZ) “Teachers Go Global” scheme. Rita has taught at Massey University, the UNITEC School of Performing and Screen Arts, the Performing Arts School of NZ and Western Springs College. She established the Legacy Shakespeare Company in the early 2000s, producing summer Shakespeare productions at the Parnell Rose Gardens for 4 years. In 2011 Rita won ‘Outstanding Play’ for her year 13 production of “Mother Courage” at the AMI Showdown Awards. She is currently one of the founders of The Shakespeare Club in Auckland and the Program Manager for The Actors’ Program.

Rita is passionate about Shakespeare and about young people creating theatre. Above all she is driven by finding practical ways to work with these timeless texts, in order to allow young actors to expand their understanding of language and expression, and to explore the universal themes that are key to developing an awareness of what it means to be human. “I also love the fact that outside of the school classroom, we have a platform for young people to come together and explore 400 year old scripts in this environment that transcends age and year level and curriculum. Line our young cast up in a row and you may not be able pick the year 9 student from the second-year university student. They all learn from each other and they all bring such passion and vitality to the work.”

The Young Auckland Shakespeare Company also offers an Intro to Playing Shakespeare Open Class through the TAPAC Performing Arts Programme. Our tutors include Lara Fischel-Chisholm and Nisha Madhan. Visit the TAPAC website or Young Auckland Shakespeare Company website for more information.

TAPAC Theatre
Wednesday 5 – Saturday 8 December 7pm
Matinee Saturday 8 December 2pm
Bookings: or phone 845 0295  

Baptista:  Amie Bentall
Nicola:  Anya Wood
Christina:  Bella Wicks
Petruchio:  Caleb Wells
Phillipa:  Chantal Hoeft
Pedant:  Elsie Bollinger
Bianca:  Elspeth Carroll
Josephine:  Erin Hayes
Biondello:  Erin O'Flaherty
Haberdasher/ Widow:  Geneva Norman
Lucentio:  George Maunsell
Grumio:  Hannah Schunk-Hockings
Gremio:  Jack Duncan Spring
Tailor:  Katie Longbottom
Tranio:  Murdoch Keane
Natalia:  Natasha Sutcliffe
Katharina:  Sally Bollinger
Vincentio:  Victor Ikeda
Hortensio:  Zachary Buckland

Designer:  Rita Stone
Lighting Designer/ Operator:  Michael Craven
Rehearsal Stage Manager:  Lucie Everett-Brown
Performance Stage Manager:  Eamonn Dobson
Sound Operator:  Riley Mooney
Set Construction:  Kitt Panting  

Full of energy, adventure and daring

Review by Johnny Givins 06th Dec 2012

“We shouldn’t teach Shakespeare, we should perform Shakespeare” – Sir Ben Kingsley.  

The proof of this is on stage at TAPAC and it is wonderful to watch.  Rita Stone formed the Young Auckland Shakespeare Company in July 2012 for 14-21 year old actors.  The Taming of the Shrew is the first performance by this enthusiastic young company. 

The show is full of energy, adventure and daring.  It takes the text of the original and squeezes it into a theatrical event that would please The Bard.  Perhaps some poetry is missing, but the acting by this ensemble cast is direct, physical, and fun.  The actors breathe life into every syllable and make sure that the sense of the action is clear and the intention unambiguous. 

Rita Stone has directed a comedic vision of The Shrew set in the 1980s.  It starts in a girls’ boarding school and the 80s music is loud.  The Principal is the mother of two daughters one Katherine and the other Bianca. The angry Kate must be married before the ‘lovely’ Bianca can wed.

All the Shakespearian characters are there, played by young men and young women with gusto.  There is slapstick, over acting, face pulling, wild reactions, lots of arms thrown about and it’s funny. 

Petruchio (Caleb Wells) is a punk with the spiky green hair, chains and ripped jeans.  He is equally matched by Katharina (Sally Bollinger) with vitriol, abuse, angry wild hair and studs.  These are both impressive performances and talents to watch in the future. 

The groundlings comedy is well served by Grumio (Hanna Schunk-Hocking), Tranio ( Murdoch Keane) and Biondello (Erin O’Flaherty) as they throw themselves into the action and actually make The Bard’s comedy writing work.  There is also great absurd character work from the suitors-Lucentio (George Maunsell), Hortensio (Zachery Buckland) and Gremio (Jack Duncan Spring). 

The set is simple, against blacks, there are six blackboard flats on wheels.  The cast draw images and words in chalk on the boards as the scene requires.  It is just enough to give us the sense of place for the action: there is a fire place and someone needs to light the fire so the actor draws in the flames!

It’s a daring production which pulls itself out of the ‘school production’ mode by the commitment and energy of the ensemble, although it does plays with many of the elements you may recognise from school shows. 

As an initial production the Young Auckland Shakespeare Company, this Taming of the Shrew is to be lauded as a good start and a harbinger for future Shakespeare performances.


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