Student delivers a winning performance

By AUT Journalism student, Katie Shepherd

A Mount Maunganui College student has claimed top honours at the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare National Festival.

Juliet Luxton was named Most Outstanding Performer, receiving the Peter Vere-Jones award for her individual performance at the festival, held in Wellington over Queen's Birthday Weekend.

The Year 13 student said she was so amazed by her win that she cried.

"I had no expectation of winning ... I was having fun as a group," she said.

Juliet said her speech and drama teacher Myra-Lou Conner introduced her to Shakespeare and head of drama and dance at the college, Wayne Flanagan, created the love she now has for the great playwright.

Juliet hopes she can now follow in the footsteps of her inspiration, her sister, Emma-Rose Luxton, and go on to perform at The Globe with the Young Shakespeare Company.

The regional Sheilah Winn competition was held at Mount Maunganui College on March 28.

From this festival assessors chose one 15-minute adult-directed performance group and one five-minute student-directed performance group to attend the national festival.

Mount Maunganui College's adult-directed performance of Richard III, directed by Mr Flanagan and Denise Edmonds, was chosen, along with Tauranga Girls' College's student-directed performance of The Winter's Tale, directed by Lydia Verschaffelt.

At the national festival, Mount Maunganui College's performance of Richard III claimed awards for Outstanding Imagination and Commitment to the Text and Outstanding Presentation from a History.

Mr Flanagan said he was extremely proud of his students. "There is no higher accolade in drama than being a [top] Shakespeare performer," he said.

"There is a need to keep the language and text of Shakespeare alive and the integrity of the text alive."

Mount Maunganui College principal Russell Gordon said he was proud of his students.

"Shakespeare is so far removed from the common currency that teens live in today. Credit goes to them for keeping it up. Mr Flanagan is a remarkable drama teacher - he knows what's needed."

Meanwhile, Lydia received the award for Outstanding Student-Directed Movement/Dance and was third-equal in the essay writing competition.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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