A win at the Sheilah Winn

It’s Romeo and Juliet. In a courtroom. With puppets. by Gemma Bayly, Year 12 student, Kaipara College

When a group of senior drama students from Kaipara College entered a video of their performance into the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare competition earlier this year, they weren’t expecting to do very well. They entered the competition last year and didn’t have much success, so expected this year to be the same. Then they received an email to say, ‘Congratulations! Your scene has been chosen as the 15-minute scene from the Auckland West Festival to progress to the National Shakespeare Festival. “We were very surprised with our victory,” says year 12 actor Kelly-Jean Moki.
Their piece was a court scene set after the end of Romeo and Juliet, with Montague and Capulet on trial for the deaths of their children. The actors also used hand puppets to show the events of the play. Red ribbons became the blood spurting out of the puppet’s mouths. The examiners said the piece was a “fantastic fresh interpretation of Romeo and Juliet,” and “utterly joyful from start to finish!” Instead of performing the whole piece at once as they usually would, the students were able to film it in several parts and edit it together for effect. The piece was written by Kaipara College drama teacher, Stephen Lunt, and filmed and edited by Jeremy Houghton (Year 13). Six Year 12 students, Kelly-Jean Moki, Emily Gunston, Ruby Williams, Grace O’Brien, Josh Masterton and Sam Stenning were the performers. The students are all experienced actors, having performed in a number of college productions over the last four years.
Every year, secondary school students across New Zealand perform sections of Shakespeare’s plays as part of the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival. They perform in their region and the winners progress to the national competition. Due to COVID-19, this year’s competition was through video submission.
The Kaipara College students’ scene will now be judged against all the other regional finalists by top industry judges. If they win, they will be part of the National Shakespeare Production in Wellington and might be able to perform at the Globe Theatre in London.
Good luck to all the students awaiting results.

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