Selection for the National Shakespeare Schools Production

A week after the SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare festival in 2012, I received a call from the lovely Dawn Sanders, the CEO.  I was informed that I had been selected to be a part of the SGCNZ NSSP. The only thing I could think of doing at that very moment was to jump around screaming like a 12 year old fan-girl, which I did do to the best of my abilities.

This year, Nisha Senerath from Hillary House has been selected from the 2013 National Shakespeare festival to be a part of the 2013 SGCNZ NSSP. Nisha described her surprise and joy in finding out: “Mrs Shepherd took me to a corner and told me the news. I just screamed and was absolutely gob smacked! Perfect timing too as we were just about to go for our Sheilah Winn Regionals photo. I was just so happy because after Nationals, seeing all those great actors, I just wrote myself off and said to myself that I’ve got 2 more years!”

The SGCNZ NSSP (Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand National Shakespeare Schools Production) selects 48 students from the regional and national festivals. These students are then invited to attend one intensive week of rehearsals and workshops, which culminate into a full Shakespearean production.

The SGCNZ NSSP 2012 was held at St Kentigern’s College in Pakuranga. Initially, I felt as if that one week would be the most daunting, haunting and scariest period of my life. Imagine living with 47 strangers for one week; each were all extremely passionate about acting, overly enthusiastic about every little announcement and a bit crazy – though not going to lie, I fit this category too. I was about to be put into a situation way beyond my comfort zone. Although after arriving and meeting everyone there, I couldn’t feel any more at home, it felt as if I was meeting long lost brothers and sisters who were extraordinarily talented, not only in acting but singing and dancing too. We were all very quick to bond because of the many similarities we shared; it was a beautiful moment for all of us.

The 48 students were divided into three groups, and each group was to perform different plays. I was part of the hilarious ‘Twelfth Night’ cast which was directed by Paul Gittens, a famous New Zealand actor and director. Being directed and taught from such an experienced person in the industry was truly a pleasure, even though I thought Paul disliked me because he picked on me the most. The other plays were ‘Merchant of Venice’ and ‘The Tempest’, directed by Raymond Hawthorne and Laurel Devenie. Throughout the week everyone also had to attend workshops on movement, literature, history and voice of Shakespeare. All of these were very interesting and I found out so much I didn’t know before.

The rest of the week was filled with laughter, cries (for some), focus, dedication and drive. Everyone there had become best of friends but also the worst of enemies, because at the back of their minds was that almighty goal and objective, to be selected to be a part of the SGCNZ YSC 2013. Only 24 of us would be selected and have the opportunity to travel to the Globe Theater in London to perform. Every night before I went to sleep, I made sure I prayed that all my friends got in – but that I got in before them. It may have been selfish, but it was the truth.

Overall this experience taught all who were there an abundant amount about Shakespeare’s great works, created unforgettable memories, and most importantly created the best of friends who I will always love and cherish. Macleans College has been a leader for the last few years in this festival, and hopefully this successful tradition continues with the next batch of talented actors.

Article by: Idam Sondhi. Edited by: SuYoung Lee.

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