It was only when his brother whispered in his ear "I'm proud of you," on stage at the Kāpiti regional Sheilah Winn festival that it sunk in for Connor Norris what he had achieved.

It was then the emotions came out and the tears began to flow.

After entering the annual Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) Regional University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival and competing in three groups, Connor was feeling sad after the two main awards which give entry into the national festival were read out and his were not successful.

With his mind already racing to next year and what they could do better, Connor was only half aware his older brother and MC of the festival, Kent Norris, had come back on stage to announce another award only sometimes given.

Connor Norris playing Stephano, right, with Maya Gatling playing Trinculo in The Tempest. Photo / Jack Penman
Connor Norris playing Stephano, right, with Maya Gatling playing Trinculo in The Tempest. Photo / Jack Penman

Assessors may select one student from each regional festival and give them direct entry into the SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production (NSSP), however the award is only given if there is someone there of a high enough standard.

With the award not given at the Kāpiti Regional Festival last year Connor had forgotten about it until his brother called his name out.

"Kent is the sole reason I did this.

"When I found out I won I was feeling like I was going to cry — but I wasn't, and then I went and hugged Kent.

"He said 'I'm proud of you' and I just started bawling. That just meant everything to me, to know that he was proud of what I had done."

Connor who attends Paraparaumu College played Dromio of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors, Stephano in The Tempest and Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream with his performances leading to this award and selection for NSSP.

"Only 48 students out of over 5500 people who participate make it into NSSP so it's a big achievement," Paraparaumu College arts coordinator Clare Thorley said.

"This is the third time consecutively that we will have a student attend as Kent won a place the previous two years."


From the 48 students, 24 are chosen for the SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company which performs at Shakespeare's Globe in London.

At NSSP students will spend a week doing intensive workshops and rehearsals with a performance at the end of it.

Connor will attend representing Kāpiti, with the five and 15 minute scene winners from the Kāpiti Regional Festival also having a chance to be selected for the production at the national festival later in the year.

It's mixed emotions for Connor as the other students he worked with did not make it in.

"Everyone I worked with is like a family to me, they're the reason why I got there. I wish there was a way for the others to get some of the award as well, but I guess there's always next year.

"We're all definitely going to do it again and try really hard to make it to nationals again so that everyone can perform."

"We were all standing and clapping when Connor was selected," Clare said.

"Being selected out of 5500 people is an amazing achievement."