Performances by two Whangarei actors have earned them each a place among 24 members of the New Zealand Young Shakespeare Company heading to the Globe theatre in London.
Thomas Gowing and Lutz Hamm recently excelled in their performances at the annual University of Otago Sheila Winn Shakespeare Festival in Wellington.
With its international reputation, standard of excellence and glittering prize of a trip to the reconstructed Globe theatre, "the Sheila Winn" is New Zealand's most prestigious Shakespearean theatre contest.
Thomas and Lutz have both been drama students at Whangarei Boys' High School and acted in Northland Youth Theatre productions. They and their peers in Young Shakespeare Company leave on Friday for 2 weeks of tutoring by professionals in London, culminating in performing on the hallowed Globe stage itself.
Lutz is in his last year at WBHS and intends going on to study at Toi Whakaari, New Zealand's drama school, in Wellington.
"I've been involved with theatre locally since 2009 or so, so my interest is comparatively recent. But thanks to role models such as Robert Pollock, head of drama at Whangarei Boys' High, who has always been a guiding light and who encouraged me into the first stages of the Young Shakespeare Company, and Laurel Devenie, who has directed me in several shows [with] the senior Northland Youth Theatre cast, it is a passion which has woken with a vengeance," Lutz said.
"I've always loved acting, being someone else, somewhere else, and this trip to London will be life changing."
Thomas, who is at Victoria University of Wellington studying a bachelor of design, started acting at primary school and has "loved it ever since".
"Like Lutz, I have been lucky to have been taught by the likes of Rob Pollock and also Laurel Devenie, who has directed me along with the senior NYT group in plays such as Thinning and Quarry," he said.
"Both have been the most inspiring and helpful teachers I could have ever of hoped for. At this stage I am interested in getting a job in the advertising industry after completing my qualification. However, I hope to continue acting as well. In terms of going to the Globe, this is a once in a life time opportunity I will never forget."
Wellwishers can help the lads by attending a fundraising concert at Whangarei Boys' High School on Wednesday at 7pm.
The programme will include Lutz and fellow drama students performing scenes from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night which they recently presented at the Sheila Winn Shakespeare Festival. Thomas will perform in a play by Harold Pinter called Victoria Station.