Teen named best at festival for the Bard

Blue Mountain College pupil Anna Herriott in the costume she wore for her performance of a scene...
Blue Mountain College pupil Anna Herriott in the costume she wore for her performance of a scene from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS
A week of hectically remembering lines has led to a prestigious award for a Blue Mountain College pupil.

Last month, year 10 pupil Anna Herriott won direct entry to the National Shakespeare Schools Production (NSSP) when she took part in the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare competition in Invercargill.

Anna and fellow pupil Katelyn Dennehy performed a five-minute scene from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night.

The 14-year-old said she was excited to receive the award.

"It was really good because I was one of the youngest.

"Everyone else was year 12 or 13," she said.

Unfortunately, because of her age, she was ineligible to take up the prize, so her award was changed to overall best actor.

"I still get the award but I don’t get what comes with the award ... oh well."

She would aim to earn entry again at the next competition, she said.

This was the first time she had performed a Shakespeare play in front of an audience.

"I think you’d be stupid if you didn’t get any nerves.

"But I like the nerves.

"It [did take] me a while to get my tongue around the words," she admitted.

The competition, which took place at James Hargest College on March 27, attracted eight teams from across Southland and Otago.

Before the competition, the acting pair watched Twelfth Night with teacher Lisa Swanson.

Ms Swanson then helped them practise during lunchtimes in the lead-up to the competition.

She said Anna was a very talented actor.

"She is one of the best performers I’ve seen as a teacher and also as someone who has worked in theatre.

"She doesn’t come across as this natural-born performer — until you see her on stage."

For Anna to win the award at her age was a great sign for the future, Ms Swanson said.

Anna was also selected for the Southland development debating squad last month.

The squad had a goal of developing youth who had potential as leaders in their school.

"I didn’t even know anything about it and someone said ‘You’ve been selected for this’ which I found cool," Anna said.