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Sheilah Winn

QMC and Scots College students at the SGCNZ Nationals.
Back: Isabella Barber, Marie Katsanos, Ava Flaws, Eleanor Burns and Gregor Burns, centre: Kaia Holborow, front: Siobhan Murray and Karl Patchett

All the world’s a stage for a group of Queen Margaret College students who made the national final of the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival in June.

QMC entered two teams in the regional competition in April: a Year 10 team and a senior entry.

The Year 10 team starred Pia Bryant and Jessica Brunt in an extract from As You Like It. The performance won the award for the Most Outstanding Connection between Two Characters.

The senior entry, directed by Year 13 student Eleanor Burns, was a 15-minute piece of various scenes from Much Ado About Nothing and starred Isabella Barber, Marie Katsanos, Siobhan Murray, Kaia Holborow and Ava Flaws, as well as Scots College students Gregor Burns and Karl Patchett. This team was one of three Wellington teams out of 30 entries to be selected for the national finals.

The piece won Outstanding Presentation from a Comedy Award and the NZADI Drama Cup for Outstanding Imagination and Commitment to the Text. Isabella Barber, who played the lead, Beatrice, won the Outstanding Performer Award and was selected for the National Shakespeare’s School Production (NSSP).

First-time director Eleanor says she was “over the moon” the team was selected for the national competition.

“I was super-proud of my group and pleasantly surprised that I had the vision and ability to stage manage and create a piece that the audience enjoyed.”

She says the nationals had a “fun and invigorating atmosphere”.

“My favourite part was seeing the creative ways other students and teachers brought scenes to life, giving me new ideas on ways scenes could be crafted. I had previously performed some of the scenes we saw, and I found it cool to see different ways they were performed this time.”

After spending her time throughout school as an actor, Eleanor wanted to give directing a go to see theatre from a different perspective.

“I thought it would be cool to try something new as I had never directed my own piece before,” she says.

“Getting to work with each individual and watch them grow as an actor in their development of their character and in their confidence as a person was a highlight for me. I also enjoyed creating different pictures on stage to engage the audience.”

Eleanor says the experience of directing has opened her eyes to future possibilities in the theatre.

“I have always loved acting, and this experience has shown me that there is more to theatre than just acting. I really enjoyed directing this piece and hope I will do more in the future.”

Isabella has since been selected as one of 24 NZ students to visit the Globe theatre in London to attend advanced workshops and perform at the theatre itself.