What are SGCNZ’s UOSWSF?

Each year, SGCNZ holds 24 Festivals nationwide, in which  secondary-age students, from 11 to 19 years old, perform 5- and 15-minute scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, set in any time, place, dress – though definitely in Shakespeare’s words. The Regional Festivals are scheduled between mid-March and mid-April.

An outstanding 5- and 15-minute scene from each region are then chosen to perform at the National Festival, held over King’s Birthday weekend in Wellington at the Michael Fowler Centre and Opera House. There are awards of certificates, books and even some money. Leading theatre practitioners present 22 workshops, give talks, advice, and view emerging talent. Groups of students may pay to participate in the workshops and attend the public performances on the Friday and Saturday if not chosen to perform. Contact us for further information.

SGCNZ believe in making the festival affordable for all participants, so individual entry fees do not apply. Schools/ Home School Cluster Groups, however, must be financial members at the time of participation in their Regional Festival and the National Festival. Subscriptions are per calendar year, and cost $200 (gst inclusive) for Schools, or $110 (gst inclusive) for Home School Cluster Groups.

SGCNZ Competitions

SGCNZ’s allied competitions offer students the option to explore design, music, and essay-writing. For more more information about the competitions please see here.

The competition finalists are invited to attend the UOSWSF workshops and can attend the festival performances and the Award Ceremony free of charge. They will receive their monetary prizes at the Award Ceremony on the Sunday evening of the National Festival.


Then there are further opportunities!

The Supreme Winner of the SGCNZ/Tony Catford Shakespeare Costume Competition and SGCNZ/Morrison Music Trust Competition and 46 students selected from the Regional and National Festivals attend the SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production (NSSP), a week-long intensive course with workshops, rehearsals and culminating performances.

SGCNZ NSSP is held in the September/October holiday each year. During this week, 24 students are chosen to form SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company (SGCNZ YSC) and travel to the Globe in London and Stratford Upon Avon for two and a half weeks in July the following year (fees apply).

History of SGCNZ’s Festivals

Just nine months after the founding of Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand in June 1991, SGCNZ held its first Regional Shakespeare Festival in Schools. The Sheilah Maureen Winn Charitable Trust came to the party to assist with funding from the first National Festival soon after. In 2006 the University of Otago entered the scene with a significant contribution, which resulted in the rebranding to the SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festivals. This much appreciated partnership has continued, along with valued contributions from other sponsors.

From the initial seven regions, the Festivals have grown to 24 regions. Over 5500 students each year from over half the schools with secondary students perform the 5-minute student-directed and 15 minute adult or student-directed scenes. One of each is chosen to be performed at the National Festival at King’s Birthday weekend each year, where participants attend talks, workshops and other performances. Specific criteria have been introduced to include an additional scene in Regions with very large participation. These are outlined in the Board Policy document.

With more than 131,500 students nationwide having participated in the first 31 years of the Festivals, the impact can now be seen on stages throughout the country, big and small screens, backstage, front of house, in various arts administrative roles, and in a vast array of non-theatre based positions. Check out what some of our alumni are up to here.

The SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival is EPIC…thank you to all who make it happen…”

“The UOSWSF has been an amazing opportunity that I have benefited from every year for the past five years…”