A surge of interest in the performing arts has over 250 young people performing at
Hāwera Repertory's Barbara Leydon Junior Drama Festival this week.

The festival gives school-age actors the opportunity to explore the theatrical
world with on-stage lighting, costuming, make-up and a live audience.

Festival co-ordinator Clive Cullen says there are 27 plays to be performed over four
nights, Monday to Thursday.

"This is probably the biggest year ever. I think the recent Hawera Repertory productions of Annie and The Lion and The Witch and the Wardrobe have helped these young people's interest to grow," he says.

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"It's fantastic because we're watching the next generation of Hāwera Repertory start
out on stage."

Both Hāwera Repertory and South Taranaki schools have plays entered in the
festival.

Cullen says there are a number of youth directors this year.

"We're really trying to help all ages grow their interest so we've been running a
mentoring programme which is allowing our talented teens to really grow their skills."

The festival also provides an opportunity for youth to explore interests in sound,
lighting and backstage roles.

This year, children are helping in each field.

Cullen says they're hoping to see the community out supporting the youth each night.

"We've made it really affordable because we aim to give the community some
entertainment and the youth a chance to shine. Entry is $5 per adult and $2 per
child."

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Performances will be on Monday to Thursday evenings starting at 7pm.