Queen's contingent in Shakespeare festival

Queen’s High School drama pupils are watched over by drama teacher Terry MacTavish (above), as...
Queen’s High School drama pupils are watched over by drama teacher Terry MacTavish (above), as they rehearse a scene depicting the humiliation of Sir John Falstaff in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.
A large contingent of young actors from Queen's High School are in Wellington for a national festival of Shakespeare.

Sixteen year 12 and 13 drama pupils and two teachers are making the trip to present two short excerpts from Shakespeare at this weekend's national Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ University of Otago Sheila Winn Shakespeare Festival.

The Queen's High School actors were selected to represent Otago in both the 15-minute and five-minute scene categories, at the Otago regional festival in April.

In Wellington, they will repeat their 15-minute performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor: Time's Up, Sir John! and five-minute performance of Romeo & Juliet: Sweet Sorrow at the Michael Fowler Centre.

Queen's High School drama teacher Terry MacTavish was very proud of the girls for their hard work in creating the scenes and for their ingenuity in sourcing an array of costumes.

"The girls have scavenged and scrounged, and have really worked hard,'' she said. "It is tremendously exciting for all of us to have this opportunity to be part of the national festival.''

Their feminist interpretation of The Merry Wives of Windsor was well timed, given the worldwide #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

"Sir John Falstaff thinks that, because he is the most important man in the district, he can have any woman he wants,'' Ms MacTavish said.

"Our merry wives turn the tables on him and inflict all kinds of humiliation.''

Playing a Trump-like Sir John Falstaff was an empowering experience for Thirza Brizzell (17).

"It has been interesting becoming what many young women are scared of, and I think it's good to be able to pass on the message in a safe place,'' Thirza said.

"I'm loving making a fool of Sir John - the great watery pumpkin, as we call him.''

Ms MacTavish said the girls' take on Romeo & Juliet for the five-minute segment was innovative, as it brought together the three parting scenes from the play - after their first vows of love, after their wedding night, and at their untimely deaths. 

"It is really quite poignant to see those scenes together, highlighting the progression of the play,'' she said.

The national SGCNZ University of Otago Sheila Winn Shakespeare Festival will involve 650 young performers, representing six regions of New Zealand.

Young actor and director Krystal O'Gormann (17), who will be part of the contingent, was selected last year for the Young New Zealand Shakespeare Company and will travel to Shakespeare's Globe in London in July, to study and perform.

Performers

The Queen’s High School drama pupils who will perform in Wellington are:

The Merry Wives of Windsor: Time’s Up Sir John! cast: Shy Smith (17), Kacey Farquhar (17), Georgia Clark (17), Krystal O’Gormann (17), Thirza Brizzell (17), Cayla Hosking (17), Arabella Thomlinson (17), Paige Counsell (18), Sanduni Udamull (17) and Jelaine van Werlie (17).

The Romeo & Juliet: Sweet Sorrow cast:  Jordyn Martin (16), Alisea Simmons (17), Tia Skaf (16), Chloe Robertson (16), Lily Kitto- Thomas (16), and Alannah Trotter (16).

BRENDA.HARWOOD @thestar.co.nz

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