Spirit of Shakespeare inspires Bay students
Two Hawke’s Bay schools competed at the 30th Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) National University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival. Iona College and Napier Boys’ High School competed in the festival held from June 3-7. At the festival, students perform Shakespeare plays with their own interpretations. Iona College director of performing arts Carol-Ann Stubbs said: “Shakespeare is an integral part of life at Iona College”. Stubbs says as well as Shakespeare in the English curriculum, the college places an emphasis on students being involved in the Shakespeare programme from a young age. Year seven and eight pupils embark on a Shakespeare Learning programme where they spend time learning about the basics of Shakespeare and the language. This culminates in an audition for the annual Shakespeare in The Blyth Concert. “Being involved in these types of programmes from a young age encourages the love of Shakespeare, hence the success Iona College has with The Sheilah Winn Competition.” The college has been involved in SGCNZ since 2013, and in 2015 Tessa Rao and Ella Brown — along with the former director of performing arts — were selected to travel to London to work at the Shakespeare Globe Centre along with 22 other students selected from around New Zealand. In 2019 Lucy Brown was nominated as the best comedy performer at the festival. “The learnings and friendships our young ladies get from this event will stay with them forever,” Stubbs says. Iona College performed Julius Caesar at this year’s Sheilah Winn Festival. Napier Boys’ High School English teacher Tracy Robins said the school decided “very much at the last minute” to enter this year. She said the boys had six weeks to choose the scene and rehearse. “The boys initially struggled to decipher the humour in Shakespeare’s language but once they started to interact with each other and perform, the comedy quickly became apparent. “Shakespeare’s insight into human failings, emotions and motivations are timeless. That he can bring them to us in a comic way makes his visions of humanity all the more revealing. The boys performed Act I, scene 2 from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where characters are planning to stage a play within the play. “It is important to remember that all Shakespeare’s plays, even the tragedies, have a strong comic element which was designed to entertain his audiences. Tracy says as the school doesn’t have a drama department, the boys enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their talents to other schools.