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One more step to world stage

Rising Shakespearean actor AJ Southey, left, with Kuranui head of performing arts Juanita McLellan. PHOTO/ SUPPLIED

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Wairarapa is producing top-tier young actors who could soon take on London’s Globe Theatre.

Kuranui College pupil AJ Southey, 18, has been selected for the National Schools Shakespeare Production workshop in Dunedin later this year.

He is one of only 20 to be picked from more than a thousand pupils from across New Zealand to attend, and will be joined by Wairarapa College’s Jackson Burling, who was given a spot for his portrayal of Richard III during the festival.

Both have the chance of further selection to perform with the Young Shakespeare Company at the Globe in London next year.

Southey performed Coriolanus at the Sheilah Winn Festival of Shakespeare in Schools, in which won Kuranui the five-minute category in Wairarapa’s regional Shakespeare festival in April.

Southey said the piece was challenging.

“I liked that Coriolanus wasn’t a hero, he was a grey person, a flawed human being.

“I also liked the thought of a lesser-known play and enjoyed exploring the themes and ideas, especially since the organisers had asked for ‘no pixies, fairies or witches’.”

He joins the list of Kuranui pupils, including Civic Cruz and Tommy Laybourn, who were selected for the workshop previously.

“It’s quite an honour and I’m proud to be part of the tradition.”

The week-long workshop involves the auditioning, learning of a part, and performing a Shakespeare play on the final day, as well as waiata and kapa haka training.

“I like the thought of giving and receiving manaakitanga, the sharing of my mana with others, and allowing them to grow.”

Kuranui’s head of performing arts, Juanita McLellan, was proud of Southey for being selected.

“He’s a really nice, well-rounded person.

“As a performer, he’s just astounding.”

She said Southey gives “150 per cent” at rehearsals and researched his roles extensively.

For Southey, Shakespeare is all about the story – even if the words were hard to understand at first.

The workshop is run by the Shakespeare Globe Community of New Zealand.

“I can’t wait to meet and connect with other people with similar interests, and working with experienced tutors in a supportive atmosphere.”

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