How Harry Potter and Shakespeare got Rotorua’s John Paul College students to nationals


22 May, 2019 8:00am

Two teams of 16 John Paul College actors and directors did everything but break a leg at the regional Shakespeare competition and are now off to the national finals.

The school took home the winning spots at the regional festival of the secondary schools 2019 Otago University Sheilah Winn Festival of Shakespeare.

They will travel to Wellington on Queen’s Birthday Weekend for the 28th national final of the New Zealand Shakespeare Globe Centre (SGCNZ) festival at the Michael Fowler Centre.

More than 8000 students took part in more than 30 regional festivals with 48 teams making it to the finals.

From there, 24 students will be chosen to become members of the SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company who will go to the London’s Globe Theatre next year.

The festival encouraged creativity, innovation, imagination and required hard work as students acted and directed a modernised version of a Shakespearean scene.

The two winning John Paul College teams performed a compilation of scenes from Macbeth and a scene from Hamlet Act 3.

Macbeth was interpreted through Harry Potter to show how J K Rowling was influenced by the Shakespeare play when writing Harry Potter.

John Paul College head of drama Gabrielle Thurston directed Macbeth and said it was a privilege to introduce the students to the literary works through their shared passion in the arts.

“The students’ excitement and the opportunity for them to experience a feast of theatre and creativity is a great reward,” she said.

Year 13 deputy head girl Ashleigh Webb performed in both skits and said it was different, in a good way, from the other drama she had been a part of.

“It’s nice to be able to perform alongside other schools and see their different interpretations of Shakespeare,” she said.

SGCNZ chief executive and trustee Dawn Sanders said the festival was more than drama and was a “life skills enhancing organisation through Shakespeare”.

Sanders said progression in the festival was an accolade within schools and received high praise in school ERO reports.

She said having made it to the national festival was an opportunity for the young creatives to be exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking.

“Many students tell me how they have found self-worth being valued, making offers in rehearsals and having their ideas and thoughts included have given them self-confidence,” Sanders said.

Two John Paul College teams will be going to the national final for the Shakespeare competition. Photo / Stephen Parker