Regional win for West Auckland school in Shakespeare competition

Director Libby Palmer with friend and performer Elise Henry, who played Macbeth in Libby's 15-minute piece.
Amy Baker

Director Libby Palmer with friend and performer Elise Henry, who played Macbeth in Libby's 15-minute piece.

It's third time lucky for West Auckland student director Libby Palmer who will get another chance to represent her school at the national Shakespeare festival.

Her compilation of scenes from Macbeth was judged the best 15-minute scene for the Auckland West region. Regional winners are invited to attend the national festival in Wellington in June. 

The year 12 Hobsonville Point Secondary School student has been directing Shakespeare festival pieces since she was in year 10.

Elise Henry in character. Costumes were pared back to a simple colour palette: black, red and white.
Gerard MacManus

Elise Henry in character. Costumes were pared back to a simple colour palette: black, red and white.

This is the third year in a row she's been selected to go to the national event.

It will be the first time, however, that she will attend for a scene she has directed.

Palmer, 16, began preparing the piece over the summer holidays and said she had a vision in mind for what she wanted to do.

Cast for the West Auckland region best 15-minute scene: Elise Henry, Keisha Jayapuram, Chelsea Sampson,  Sophie Lindsay ...
Gerard MacManus

Cast for the West Auckland region best 15-minute scene: Elise Henry, Keisha Jayapuram, Chelsea Sampson, Sophie Lindsay (assessor), Emily Smith, Libby Palmer (director), Rachel Taylor, Constantina Kardula and John Callen (assessor).

Initially she tried to piece together all her favourite parts of Macbeth but when she found that didn't work she selected excerpts to show the theme of the characters' growing madness and eventual downfall. 

Movement theatre - "kind of a mix between contemporary dance and drama " - was also a major inspiration, she said.

Eight students from the school performed in the piece.

Elise Henry, who played Macbeth, said the role pushed her out of her comfort zone and has opened up other opportunities, such as a part in the school's upcoming show, Daughters of Heaven. 

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 Teacher Leigh Sykes said the win was a "a huge testament" to the students at the school and to their former drama teacher, Megan Peterson, who encouraged festival involvement from year nine level. 

Sykes said it was an "awesome achievement" for Palmer to be going to the national festival for the third year in a row. 

"I think she had a really, really clear concept from day one. I was so impressed in her first rehearsal that she knew exactly the style she wanted to achieve." 

The Shakespeare Festival is held in Wellington from June 1-5. 

 - North Harbour News

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