Southland schools get set for Stage Challenge video

JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

Verdon College Stage Challenge Rehearsal

YouTube glory is on the line as southern schools are set to go to war - on stage.

Ten Southland and southern Otago schools will duke it out at Invercargill's Civic Theatre on Wednesday, as the latest edition of the Stage Challenge comes to the south.

Verdon College year 13 student Travis Oudhoff​ said he and his school's 64-person team were hoping to improve upon last year's second-place showing.

Verdon College students (from left) Grace Burke, Arachelli Taningco, Travis Oudhoff, Makensie Waddell, Tilly van Eeden, ...
JOHN HAWKINS/FAIRFAX NZ

Verdon College students (from left) Grace Burke, Arachelli Taningco, Travis Oudhoff, Makensie Waddell, Tilly van Eeden, Samantha Calvert and Patrice Brookland practice ahead of the Stage Challenge competition.

"We're just going to have full enthusiasm. They're a great bunch to work with."

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Oudhoff and fellow co-director Liam van Eeden​ were heading the school's Stage Challenge entry for the second year in a row. The theme this year was the worldwide refugee crisis, Oudhoff said.

Verdon College students Travis Oudhoff, Makensie Waddell and Tilly van Eeden  practice ahead of the Stage Challenge ...
JOHN HAWKINS/FAIRFAX NZ

Verdon College students Travis Oudhoff, Makensie Waddell and Tilly van Eeden practice ahead of the Stage Challenge competition, which will be held on Wednesday at Invercargill's Civic Theatre.

"It's very topical," he said.

"Syria used to be a First World country. Just because we're in New Zealand doesn't make us immune."

He said rehearsals had been taking place every week since auditions were held in early February.

Verdon students (from left) Grace Burke, Arachelli Taningco, Travis Oudhoff, Makensie Waddell and Tilly van Eeden ...
JOHN HAWKINS/FAIRFAX NZ

Verdon students (from left) Grace Burke, Arachelli Taningco, Travis Oudhoff, Makensie Waddell and Tilly van Eeden practising at Verdon College on Tuesday.

"It's a great chance to represent your school."

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At James Hargest College, year 13 student Claire Russell said the school's 85-person team was ready to go.

"It's pretty organised. Everyone knows what they're doing."

With performances required to be under eight minutes in length and illustrating issue concerning students, Russell said Hargest's performance dealt with discrimination based on gender and gender identity.

"It's just very sad."

Fighting against gender stereotypes was important to promote equality, she said.

Supervisor Pip Paulin said the students had worked hard in preparation, with planning beginning in 2015.

"It's their chance to step up."

Last year's Stage Challenge winners, Fiordland College, are not participating this year - meaning the top prize is wide-open.

Event manager Hazel Reid said the event gave youth invaluable life experience.

Taking place annually since 1993, about 16,000 students from 200 schools throughout New Zealand will take part in Stage Challenge this year.

 - Stuff

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