Playing her part in decoding Shakespeare

29 Nov 2016
Kaitlin Maher (Times photo Wayne Martin)

She cried when she heard the news in the classroom. There were tears of shock and joy!

“I couldn’t believe that from the 5500 students that participated at the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival, I was selected,”

says Kaitlin Maher, student of Botany Downs Secondary College.

The year 13 student is one of the students from New Zealand who has won a place in the Young Shakespeare Company (YSC).

She says she is counting the days to July next year when she will travel to London and perform at the prestigious Globe Theatre.

Kaitlin first competed at the Sheilah Winn Festival, (one of the schools co-curricular activities) and was awarded a direct entry to the SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production.

On the 25th anniversary year of SGCNZ and the Quattro centennial of Shakespeare’s death, SGCNZ continues its legacy of lifting Shakespeare from the pages and translating it to captivating performances – giving students a chance to collaborate and imbibe life skills.

Head of department, drama, Jacqueline Hood says: “Kaitlin spent a week down in Dunedin in the last holidays with 47 other students from around New Zealand. Out of the 48 students, 24 were selected to become the Young Shakespeare Company and she was one of them.”

Each year 24 of New Zealand’s most talented young actors are selected from SGCNZ’s National Shakespeare Schools Production to form SGCNZ YSC to participate in an array of workshops, talks, Q&A sessions at Shakespeare’s Globe, London. They will then have an amazing opportunity to perform for the public at the Globe.

The 18-year-old with a passion for acting says that while the competition in Dunedin was tough since every shortlisted student was an amazing actor, “In my opinion, it was more about how we connected with the director and understood the nuances.

“I love performing Shakespeare and decoding the text.

“The fascinating thing about the festival is that people choose different parts and use them in a different context. I think I did it quite effectively,” says the year 13 student who relishes the richness of language.

“They even taught us how to sing the waiata, the traditional Maori songs so that we could perform once we are in London,” she says.

Kaitlin is excited about the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform at the grand original Elizabethan theatre.

“This is the only place in the world where people get to perform for three and half weeks.”

The talented students will have workshops and tours of the Rose and National Theatres as well as the Royal Shakespeare Company and theatres at Stratford-upon-Avon.

~, Farida Master


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