Wairarapa College’s Jackson Burling as Richard III. PHOTO/CAL ROBERTS

CAL ROBERTS
cal.roberts@age.co.nz
A keen young Masterton performer has been labelled one to watch – and may be on his way to the prestigious Globe Theatre in London.
Sixteen-year-old Jackson Burling from Wairarapa College took part in Wairarapa’s regional Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival, which was held at Rathkeale College’s auditorium this week.
The nationwide festival has been encouraging young thespians to get stuck into Shakespeare for 27 years now.
It awarded first place for the best five-minute and 15-minute Shakespeare scenes.
Kuranui College won the five-minute category with ‘Coriolanus’.
Rathkeale, paired with St Matthew’s Collegiate senior college, took out the 15-minute category’s top spot with their version of ‘The Tempest’.
Each winner will progress to the national festival in June.
The National Shakespeare Schools Production – a week-long intensive theatre course – usually runs during the September school holidays and gives young stage enthusiasts the chance to learn and meet with talented peers, culminating in a performance by the new ensemble.
An opportunity existed at the regional level for an outstanding performer to be selected to progress to the NSSP, for their performance alone.
Burling’s portrayal of Richard III on Tuesday earned him that spot.
The festival’s regional organiser, Marilyn Bouzaid, said Burling’s raw talent was obvious.
“He stands out absolutely as someone who should be fostered and given direct entry.”
From the production course, about 20 individuals may be selected to travel to the Globe Theatre in London.
Burling said he was shocked to learn he had been chosen to take part in the course.
“I was trying to do the best I could as a group in that 15-minute scene.”
He looked forward to getting together with other winners to perform Shakespeare.
“We do a workshop together for a couple of days and do all that good stuff.
“We’ll probably learn a lot.”
The chance of being selected for the England trip to see a piece of theatre history was exciting to Burling – who said he worked best under pressure.
“Something about it just really drives me.
“I just want to do one step at a time and so the best that I can do.”
Burling usually played lighter roles aimed at making others laugh.
He said being able to bring Richard III – a manipulative, vile schemer – to life was eye-opening.
“As the years have gone by I’ve learned that performing is not just about making people laugh.
“Performing a serious guy like Richard III – it’s awesome really.”
The regional competitions concluded with Wellington’s festival on Thursday night.
The national competition is next, where the rich talent from Wairarapa will be on show over Queen’s Birthday weekend in June.