Twizel Area School students have, once again, competed with the best of the best at the SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn National Shakespeare Festival in Wellington and proved that our little Area School can be just as successful.

Lily Brophy, Louie Skinner and Monique van der Westhuizen have all returned safe but exhausted, from their six-day trip to the SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn National Shakespeare Festival.

On the Friday of the festival, they engaged in workshops taken by theatre professionals on such diverse acting themes as: Clowning Fundamentals, Improvisation and Character Work, Connecting to Shakespeare, and Voice Acting. On Saturday they watched twenty-five excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays. They watched a further nineteen on Sunday as well as performing their own fifteen-minute piece from Twelfth Night directed by Louie Skinner and Lily Brophy.

After applying makeup, dressing in their Elizabethan costumes, and running through their lines and song, they waited nervously for their call to go onstage. The Michael Fowler Theatre has a huge stage, nearly 25 metres across and 17 metres deep and the students had to set their own stage within the two minutes allowance. Their set boasted the skeleton of a large window that had to be assembled quickly, as well as various seats and a squeaky tea-trolley! 

Mol 4537

When their play and school were announced to the audience, they were ready to begin. Monique achieved the first laugh from the audience, and from then on there was no holding them back – they had the audience ‘hooked’. One member of the audience was heard to say, ‘They haven’t missed a nuance!’ (That is high praise indeed from a Shakespearean aficionado). Their song, O Mistress Mine was harmonic and you could have heard a pin drop as they sang. Jane Brophy, who in between watching the performance was also keeping an eye on the assessors – noticed them laughing, nodding and at the conclusion, clapping loudly!

The Award Ceremony on Sunday evening was very long. The Young Shakespeare Company 2022 performed Shakespeare’s dramatic poem Venus and Adonis, as well as a waiata and haka. Then came the awards. The girls were thrilled to receive three out of the 43 awarded at the festival.

  • Most Effective Design Award donated by Toi Whakaari (NZ Drama School) 
  • Outstanding Music/Song Award (Student Directed) Donated by Julie Nevett (Morrison Music Trust)
  • Outstanding Performer Award Donated by Peter Vere Jones, won by Lily Brophy 

The Outstanding Performer Award means that Lily will automatically go on to the National Shakespeare Schools Production (NSSP) held 1 – 9 October 2022. This is a residential intensive week of workshops and rehearsals in which the students study and perform one of three Shakespeare plays. A further 22 students are chosen from the Wellington Festival to also go to the NSSP – so further members of our cast are eligible – we will know in a couple of weeks’ time.

Mol 4510

Louie, Lily and Monique would like to thank High Country Salmon, Top Hut, TAS Home and School, The Op Shop, the Mackenzie Four Square and an anonymous arts-loving doner, for their generous support. To get the Most Effective Design award they are very grateful to John (set) Nyree and Justine (costumes) and Sandy and Chris (props).

Finally, some statistics:  Since 2012 TAS has represented Aoraki nine times at the National Festival, 52 students have performed on the Wellington stage, have received 12 awards over this time, 8 students have gone on to NSSP and 1 student (so far) will perform on the Globe Theatre in London as a member of the Young Shakespeare Company 2022. Not bad for a little Area School!

Lily Award

Mol 5435

Mol 5448

Photos courtesy of 📸 Memory of Light Photography