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Shake the ... GFC!

March 18, 2020 at 3:46 PM

After an untimely squall in the middle of last year’s performance changed ‘Shake the Quad’ to a quickly reformatted ‘Shake the Chapel,’ all eyes were on the weather charts this year! After a long, hot summer like no other, it surely had to be a safe bet to expect a perfect twilight sky for an outdoor performance on show night, right? 

By the weekend prior, there was every indication that a ‘tempest’ could be due to pass through, so leaving nothing to chance, Shakespeare shook the Goodfellow Centre this year instead!

Saint Kentigern’s Festival of Shakespeare, long-known as Shake the Quad, is always the first Performing Arts event for the year, giving co-curricular drama students from Years 7 - 13 a unique opportunity to perform Shakespearean scenes to a live audience - usually in a relaxed outdoor setting! This year, it was a relaxed indoor setting, with plenty of beanbags for comfortable viewing.

Showcasing work of their own devising, students were involved as cast members and directors, as well as those working behind the scenes to ensure costumes and props were at hand. The students largely had free rein and their chosen scene could be set in any time, place or costume - there was just one essential requirement, the lines spoken had to be true to Shakespeare’s words!  With one exception. MC, Peter Wallace (Year 13), playing the part of the fool, kept the evening flowing with lively banter of his own creation - where did he get all those ‘Shakespearean’ puns?

Students could choose to take on the challenge of directing their peers, or to be directed. They took on the responsibility to select a cast, attend rehearsals, determine costuming and conceptualise how each piece should be performed, often reflecting the contemporary world. In so doing, they re-connected us with the classic works, but often in a new way. 

From King Lear to Macbeth, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, and Othello - whether it was the youngest of our students making their first foray into Shakespeare’s works or our more seasoned actors taking command of the stage, each performance was a joy to watch as the carefully rehearsed words were delivered. 

Over 40 young thespians rose to the challenge this year, with a further group of musicians providing music, whilst fellow actors and members of the Arts Council delivered refreshments before the start of the show. Students from the Design Council designed posters and the programme, making the whole evening a truly collaborative student effort. 

Prior to the show, the students were fortunate to benefit from a workshop with one of New Zealand’s top Shakespearean actors, Stephen Butterworth. One of the leading stars of the Pop-up Globe, Stephen has been a lead actor since its first season and most recently, has taken on the role of Richard the Third. Following the workshop on Shakespearean acting for our students, he critiqued each of the scenes, giving valuable feedback to the students. His input clearly paid dividends with the students exuding an air of confidence throughout their performances.

We were pleased to see so many students from all year levels involved in this year’s Shake the Quad, celebrating their passion for Shakespeare. We now wish them well as they make their final preparations for the upcoming SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival. 

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