More than 100 students around the Whanganui, Manawatu and Rangitikei will tackle some of the hardest drama plays in history when they go head to head at the Regional Festival of Shakespeare this Sunday.

Whanganui Girls College will host five schools who have taken up the challenge of performing either a 15-minute or five-minute piece from any of Shakespeare's 38 plays.

The winner of each category will have the chance to perform their piece in Wellington at the National Festival of Shake-speare in June.

They will be assessed by Wellington actor and director Patrick Davies. Davies has performed in many of Shakespeare's plays and won international acclaim for his portrayal of James K Baxter in Jerusalem, Jerusalem which gained five stars at the Edinburgh Festival.


Whanganui High School has entered three of the 12 scheduled performances, including a group of Year 9 and 10 students who will be re-enacting a piece from A Midsummer Night's Dream. The school's other two groups will perform pieces from Romeo and Juliet and Henry V.

Wanganui Collegiate, Whanganui Girls College, Feilding High School and Palmerston North Girls' High School are also scheduled to perform in the festival.

Regional representative Paul Collins is excited for the event to be held at Whanganui Girls College, where he is a drama teacher.

"This is my fourth year in charge of regionals and it's exciting as it's the first time the event has been at Whanganui Girls. We've been moving the event around different schools in the area each year, so to have it at Whanganui Girls has been good for me as I've had a bit more control over it," he said.

"There's plenty of talent coming, including a group of Year 9s and 10s from Whanganui High School which is very young for this, but it's good to see them in it."

Mr Collins, also a board member of the New Zealand Shakespeare Globe Centre, said it is encouraging to see younger people involved with Shakespeare because they are starting to try to push it at a primary school level.

The event is organised by the New Zealand Shakespeare Globe Centre, which also runs 24 regional festivals around the country.

Tickets are on sale at the door and cost $5 for adults and $2 for students.