The Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand has transformed the way Shakespeare and drama is taught in schools, with over 50% of schools in the country taking part. Trinity has been delighted to have attended the associated national festival, delivered workshops for students and provided an adjudicator for the event in Wellington since 2011.
Trinity exams have been popular in New Zealand since the late 1800s, and Trinity has examined there longer than any other performing arts examinations board. In more recent years, Trinity has been involved in the hugely popular annual Shakespeare festival which has grown since the 1990s to become a national event.
The Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) was founded in 1991 by Dawn Sanders (ONZM and QSM) following a visit by veteran film director and actor Sam Wanamaker - who led the project to recreate Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London - to New Zealand the previous year. Complementing this work, from 1992, Dawn Sanders set upon establishing a programme of educational activities, including workshops and the annual Sheilah Winn Festival of Shakespeare in Schools in which students perform short scenes at regional festivals.
Representatives from each area of New Zealand are then selected to perform at the national festival in Wellington and take part in workshops and associated events for teachers and students.
From this association a new approach to Shakespeare and drama has developed, with Trinity and the SGCNZ forming a close working relationship, pooling their know-how and experience in staging and assessing Shakespeare in performance.
In 2011 John Gardyne, Trinity’s Head of Drama and Performance, was invited to join the Globe’s Director of Education Patrick Spottiswoode on the panel of judges for the national festival. Meanwhile Trinity’s Cathy Martin initiated a continuing professional development (CPD) programme with related workshops for teachers across New Zealand. One year later, in 2012, Gareth Armstrong, the distinguished actor, director and Trinity drama examiner, took John’s place on the panel, continuing the Trinity tradition. Following these successful visits, John attended again in 2013 and Gareth in 2014.
Over the twenty-two years it has been running, more than 90,000 students have participated in these festivals; 780 have attended SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production week-long intensive series of workshops, rehearsals and performances, and 350 of these students have travelled from New Zealand to the Globe Theatre in London and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon as members of SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company.
In a country with a very strong interest in the performing arts - and a country whose theatre, television and film industries are ever growing in reputation and influence on the international stage - it’s clear that these festivals have substantially changed the way that Shakespeare and drama is taught at school in New Zealand, with workshops, public performances and educational and exchange programmes bringing an exciting and practical dimension to what has sometimes been seen – unfairly – as mainly a literary subject.
Through experiencing Shakespeare live, on the stage and in performance, students and teachers have been able to reach deeper into the text and discover new ways of realising and understanding these much loved works.
‘I look forward to further association and thank you again for this valued partnership’
Dawn Sanders CEO and Member Shakespeare Globe Council, London