Plans are already afoot for our youngest cohorts of performers to be treading the boards in early November in Primarily Playing with Shakespeare 2023.

An opportunity for young people from Years 1-8 and their teachers, this is a programme created to develop core skills as students embark on a journey of discovery of the delights of language, story-telling with confidence, and performing the words of Shakespeare – ignited with artistic creativity. Watch this space for more details!

Expression of interest

SGCNZ PPWS is happening in 2023 in Wellington and around New Zealand! Choose the appropriate form and return ASAP. Enquires to

From cutting teeth on Shakespeare to the Globe

It is exciting to see that 3 children, Maddie Brooks Gillespie, Mirren Callaghan and Jacynta Scurfield, who began their time in SGCNZ’s activities in this programme, Primarily Playing with Shakespeare, as teenagers performed in our Regional and National Festivals, were chosen to attend SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production and selected to be members of SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company to study for 2 weeks and perform at the Globe in London! Maddie and Jacynta both became Narrators for SGCNZ PPWS performances, and Maddie has also designed most of the posters and programme covers. And so the pūkenga and whanau increases through SGCNZ.

For more information on this programme, or if anyone in any region around the country wishes to start up this programme under SGCNZ’s aegis, please contact Dawn Sanders on 027 283 6016 or email


SGCNZ PPWS 2022 – Macbeth “Toil and Trouble” 

SGCNZ responded to the students’ preference to perform an hour-long version of Macbeth for Primarily Playing with Shakespeare 2022!
Braving the vagaries of Covid, the following schools and groups participated in PPWS 2022: Clifton Terrace Model School, Kelburn Normal School, Otari School, Crofton Downs Primary School, Ridgway School, Kena Kena School and WHEN.

SGCNZ engaged Alexander Sparrow as PPWS Co-Director/Mentor to help guide teachers with directing their allocated scenes.

Performed in the Concourse of the Sky Stadium on 10 November, their performance attracted an audience of nearly 300. This included a significant contingent from nearby Queen Margaret College.

Comments from participants:
“The 2022 Macbeth performance was the best and most iconic performance yet. While the Sky Stadium had a huge echo it was still an enjoyable experience.”
“It was so fun to perform for everyone and watch all the other schools perform. I also loved seeing how the other schools interpreted their bit of the play and I liked seeing all the
different costumes.”

“I really liked playing the witch part. I hope to do this again in the future.”

SGCNZ PPWS 2021 – Julius Caesar

SGCNZ Primary Playing with Shakespeare continued in 2021 – this time with Julius Caesar – one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays, with all the intrigue, backstabbing, and power struggles that come with it! However, sadly, Covid dictated that the audience would be only the SGCNZ staff and volunteers, students’ supervisors, a photographer and a videographer.

In spite of this, not to mention those famous words: “Friends, Romans and Countrymen, Lend me your ears”, there were so many schools and groups wanting to be involved, there had to be two performances.
On Wednesday 3 November, these were: Karori West Normal School, Crofton Downs Normal School, WHEN, Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, Clifton Terrace Model School.
A week later, on Wednesday 10 November, participants were from: St Mark’s School, Fun Creative, St Peter & Paul School, Kena Kena School, WHEN.

Mel Dodge was engaged by SGCNZ as the Co-Director/Mentor.

Performances were held at Karori Recreation Centre on 3 November and Pataka Education Room on Wednesday 10 November.

From the mouths of the primary age children:
“I can’t believe I could learn so many lines and perform like I did!”
“That was the best show I have ever done, I love Shakespeare!”
“I didn’t realise how rhythmical the language was!”

SGCNZ PPWS 2020 – The Comedy of Errors

“Let your imaginary forces work!”

Join students from Clifton Terrace Model School, Wellington Home Education Network, Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, Otari Primary School, Queen Margaret College, St Mark’s Church School, Kelburn Normal School, Ridgway School, Hutt Intermediate School, Kena Kena School and Karori West Normal School as they present an action –packed version of The Comedy of Errors!

USB Orders Forms for PPWS 

SGCNZ PPWS 2020 – The Comedy of Errors

Both performances were professionally recorded and are available to be ordered via USB.

These can be ordered via these forms which need to be returned and payment sent through by the 17th of November.

These forms can be downloaded here ;

Samuel Marsden Performance, 3rd NovemberUSB Form

Hutt Intermediate School, 10th NovemberUSB Form

PPWS 2020 Poster

The 2020 performances took place at:

Samuel Marsden Collegiate School
Tue 3 November 202
Featuring students from Clifton Terrace Model School, Wellington Home Education Network, Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, Otari Primary School and Karori West Normal School

Hutt Intermediate School
Tue 10 November 2020
Featuring students from Queen Margaret College, St Mark’s Church School, Kelburn Normal School, Ridgway School, Hutt Intermediate School and Kena Kena School

Ministry of Youth Development Survey

Participant Feedback link:

We are asking all participants in SGCNZ’s activities – SGCNZ UOSWSF, SGCNZ NSSP, SGCNZ YSC, SGCNZ Dance Nimble Soles, SGCNZ PPWS and Competitions between 12 and 24 years old to complete this survey from the Ministry of Youth Development.

Funding from this source is contingent on us having at least 1500 people respond  about their experience of being involved (in whatever way – acting, directing, designing, mentoring, crew, front of house, MCs, Assessors…). From the age range, it is clear that it is not just those still at school.

Any queries about this, please contact Dawn Sanders, M: 027 283 6016 P: 04 384 1300


SGCNZ PPWS 2019 – Twelfth Night

What You Will – otherwise known as Twelfth Night, was performed by over 100 primary school students over two days. A multitude of Olivias, Orsinos, Violas, Cesarios, fulsome Sir Tobys, foppish Sir Andrew Aguecheeks, witty Marias and foolish Festes took to the stage.

St Mark’s Church School, WHEN (Wellington Home Education Network), Queen Margaret College and Karori West Normal School performed allocated scenes on Tuesday 5 November at 12:30pm in Queen Margaret College Hall. Clifton Terrace Model School, Kelburn Normal School, Kena Kena School and Samuel Marsden Collegiate School performed in Kelburn Normal School Hall on Thursday 7 November.

SGCNZ PPWS 2018 – Much Ado About Nothing

Due to popularity, SGCNZ had to extend its 2018 Primarily Playing with Shakespeare performances to two days. Karori West Normal School, Kena Kena Primary School, St Mark’s School and WHEN performed allocated scenes on Tuesday 6 November at lunchtime at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School while Clifton Terrace Model School, Queen Margaret College, Te Aro School, Fergusson Intermediate School and Evan’s Bay Intermediate School performed at Evan’s Bay Intermediate School on Thursday 8 November.

SGCNZ PPWS 2017 – As You Like It

Primary-age students from Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, Karori West Normal School, Clifton Terrace School and WHEN (Wellington Home Educators Network) put their fresh slant on SGCNZ’s Primarily Playing with Shakespeare 2017 (PPWS) production of As You Like It at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School on Tuesday 7 November 2017, 12.30-1.30pm.

SGCNZ PPWS 2016: Shakespeare & Henry Live at the Stadium

“From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” 

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) was delighted to have presented its third Primarily Playing with Shakespeare production Shakespeare & Henry Live at the Stadium at the iconic Wellington Westpac Stadium. 

The ninety minute version of Henry V was performed by approximately 250 primary school age students, directed by their teachers, with mentoring by Co-Director appointed by SGCNZ, Ania Upstill. Eight primary schools and a homeschool group rehearsed their scenes independently and came together on Tuesday 8 November in the morning for their first run through. Their public performance began at 12.30pm. Westpac Stadium generously partnered with SGCNZ to facilitate this event, along with the British High Commission, as part of its Shakespeare Lives programme.

“How exciting to be performing in the Wellington Stadium and adding to all the war events which are on as well,” said young actor on the poster, Aidan Brooks Gillespie

Watch Shakespeare and Henry Live at the Stadium online here:

Through a grant from the UK’s Shakespeare Reactivation Fund, the performance was live-streamed to primary schools throughout the country.

 “Let your imaginary forces work!”

Aimed at young people from Years 1-8 and their teachers, this is a programme created to develop core skills as they embark on a journey of discovery.

Primarily Playing with Shakespeare is a vehicle for the students to experience the literary works of William Shakespeare through exploration of the text in a fun, imaginative and thematic way. It is also an opportunity for teachers of Year 1-8 students to explore their core curriculum through a new dramatic lens.

This programme started as a prototype in Wellington, to be replicated in other cities if and when desired.

Ania Upstill assisted SGCNZ to coordinate the joint performances by primary school students in the Wellington region for the past three years. In its inaugural year in 2014 SGCNZ’s Primarily Playing with Shakespeare invited students and adults alike on a magical trip into the forest of Athens with its enchanting production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The following year, primary students from five different schools, along with their audience, embarked on a turbulent journey with The Tempest, and in 2016 SGCNZ mounted its biggest Primary Playing with Shakespeare production so far when 250 primary school students battled each other at the Westpac Stadium in Shakespeare’s epic play Henry V.

Mentoring is available to teachers and students involved in the project, ensuring that the whole experience is not only fun, but also educational for all parties, and that the resulting production meets and exceeds audience’s expectations.


  • To foster Shakespeare in primary and intermediate schools
  • To build capability which advances the learning of both teachers and students
  • To demystify Shakespeare and lift his words off the page in a tangible way
  • To encourage young people to recognise their skills, and use them with imagination and creativity in the classroom
  • To envisage and explore realms around Shakespeare’s plays and their characters
  • To use specific tools and techniques as a “way into” any part of the curriculum
  • To develop another fun physical way to teach and learn
  • To work towards young people performing Shakespeare-inspired scenes in Artsplash


Students will be able to:

  • Experience bringing text to life
  • Engage with literary techniques and figures of speech at an early age
  • Find ways they can explore text in a physical way
  • Gain confidence and skills in the use of language
  • Advance communication skills
  • Enhance reading and comprehension
  • Promote performance skills
  • Develop self-confidence and esteem

Teachers will be able to:

  • Advance their knowledge of Shakespeare’s text
  • Further develop the use of exercises and tools to encourage imagination in both student and self
  • Apply techniques which allow students to take the text off the page and bring it to life
  • Gain confidence and skill in analysing text
  • Discover other ways to utilise drama to teach any part of the core primary curriculum.

This is NOT a competition, simply a showing of work in progress.

SGCNZ is grateful to the following supporters for helping to facilitate this programme: