Lydia's favourite task - making you laugh

By Rebecca Cawston


Thespian Lydia Verschaffelt plays some serious roles ... although she'd much rather be giving her best impression of Queenie from The Black Adder.

The 16-year-old has been selected to play the emotionally charged role of Hermia in Detour Theatre's upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The Tauranga Girls' College student loves the challenge of Shakespeare, and especially Shakespearian comedy.

"People instantly make assumptions about Shakespeare and the language ... the challenge of it is to have the audience totally enthralled," she says.

Rehearsing the lovelorn Hermia has been quite a challenge because the character has a huge emotional range. But Lydia loves that the play is an extreme example of Shakespearian comedy. Comedy is definitely her forte.

Watching British comedy is her preference. Favourite shows include The Black Adder, Yes Minister, Black Books and IT Crowd.

"What's the secret to making people laugh? It's an odd mixture, it can be quite random," Lydia says. "I like to think that if you are ready to laugh yourself ... but you can't be too desperate, you don't want the audience to feel sorry for you."

Lydia, with fellow student Tiana Offner, came second at the regional Sheilah Winn Shakespeare competition for a student-directed five minute scene. The piece was from A Winter's Tale and funnily enough, Lydia played the clown. The scene included some trickery with the clown's clothes coming off ... so Lydia made the most of the challenge.

"So you start up with the dialogue and suddenly the clothes go and it's that kind of surprise element. That's the great thing about Shakespeare," she says.

But Lydia gives the credit to Tiana, who was the real star of the show, she says.

The two went on to win most outstanding student-directed Shakespeare in a five-minute scene for movement/dance at the national Sheilah Winn Shakespeare competitions. This means the pair are destined to compete again nationally in October for a possible placement at the Globe Theatre, in London, next year.

Lydia also gained third prize for a Shakespeare essay competition, which she had entered on a whim.

Speech-making is another of Lydia's talents. Last year she attended the 2011 Future Problem Solving Programme International Finals at the University of Wisconsin and the team won the middle division.

This year the Year 12 student has been part of the debating team that won at an inter-school debate and recently came second equal at the national finals of the Race Unity Speech Awards in Auckland.

She was part of the mooting team that won competitions in Hamilton in June, and is involved with Amnesty International and World Vision and works at the Waipuna Hospice charity shop.

A Midsummer Night's Dream, September 12-29, at Detour Theatre.


Lydia Verschaffelt



  • Sheilah Winn regionals - best student-directed scene


  • Sheilah Winn nationals - movement/dance award


  • Part of mooting team which won nationals


  • Race Unity Speech - second equal place


  • Part of debating team which won inter-school competition


  • Amnesty International


  • Volunteer charity shop


- Bay of Plenty Times

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