All eyes were on the opening performance of The Tempest by Kuranui College. PHOTO/BRIAN SCURFIELD

EMMA BROWN
emma.brown@age.co.nz

Kuranui College covered themselves in dramatic glory at the University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival at the weekend, coming back across the Remutaka Hill with four awards.

Their five-minute pupil-directed piece from Richard III earned Florence Carter the Outstanding Student Directed Ensemble Work Award, and the whole cast earned Most Elizabethan Production for the connection to the audience.

Teacher Juanita McLellan said Carter and her crew did a phenomenal job communicating their ideas and text to an audience that were moved by their interpretation.

Kuranui pupil Nina Gelashvili, who was in Richard III, said it was “an overwhelming opportunity to be surrounded with such talented people and perform alongside such an amazing group of girls”.

Joshua Wiegman who worked backstage with the stage manager of the Michael Fowler Centre was awarded Best Technician, and the school, which also performed a 15-minute piece from The Tempest, received the Most Co-operative School Organisers’ Award for the second year in a row.

Wiegman said, “I thought it was so much fun, although a bit stressful. I would love to go again next year.”

Friday was packed full of workshops on everything from dance to the communication of text before the competition started on Saturday.

Kuranui kicked off the first day of performances with its 15-minute performance of The Tempest.

A gruelling 6.30am start on hair and make-up proved worth it as the pupils put out a great performance.

Teacher Juanita McLellan said, “[they] held the audience with their brilliant use of sound and silence in a performance”.

Wairarapa College also competed, performing a five-minute performance from King Lear.

Director and actor Jackson Burling, who is also Waicol head boy said, “it was incredible working with people with such great pedigree, their knowledge just blew me away”.

Wairarapa College’s five-minute performance of King Lear was “honestly our best performance we have ever done”, he said.

“It was like something had lifted us and it was like magic. It was great because then we could enjoy the rest of the weekend and take it in.

“We had people who were doing Shakespeare for the first time and to see them come from where they started to where they ended was just heart-warming.”

Both McLellan and Burling said their hope was that the younger pupils went away from the weekend inspired and full of new ideas for next year’s competition.