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Rathkeale thespian makes Bard’s contest

Gabe Bailey-Murdoch in The End of the Golden Weather. PHOTO/ SUPPLIED

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All the world’s a stage, and Wairarapa is full of players.

Year 13 pupil Gabe Bailey-Murdoch from Rathkeale College will be heading to the National Shakespeare Schools Production in Dunedin, joining fellow performers from Kuranui and Wairarapa College.

He said his selection for the week-long workshop was a surprise.

“It wasn’t something I actually considered myself to be in the running for.”

Pupils from Rathkeale performed ‘The Tempest’ at the Sheilah Winn national Shakespeare festival.

Bailey-Murdoch’s portrayal of Ferdinand – a prince blinded by love – caught the eye of adjudicators.

He said young performers were still interested in Shakespeare, particularly in finding new ways of performing.

Although pupils were initially put off by the language used, fresh interpretations kept them interested.

“With what people are doing with the texts, and the ideas people are using to perform them, is the exciting part.”

English and drama teacher at Rathkeale Alix Bushnell directed the school’s 15-minute piece.

Bushnell said her pupils worked hard to pull out the best performance they could.

“They started rehearsing when school started in February.”

She said the festival helped introduce pupils to the Bard.

“It creates an opportunity for students to engage with text and work they otherwise wouldn’t engage with.”

Condensing it down to a 15-minute scene forced pupils to really understand Shakespeare, to pull out the key beats and themes of a piece.

“The bits that are most important are the ones that have a universal theme that connects to love, despair, hope – all those big ideas that reflect on what it is to be human.”

As of January, 475 college pupils from across the country had performed at the Globe Theatre in London as members of Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand’s young Shakespeare company.

Next year’s Globe performers will be selected as part of the workshop later this year.

Bailey-Murdoch is also part of the joint Rathkeale-Saint Matthews school choir, Viva Camerata, which was selected for the national finale of The Big Sing competition.

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