Youngest ever Fringe Festival performers preparing to bring famous Kiwis to life on stage
Months of hard work by more than a dozen young actors will soon pay off as they take to the stage for the New Zealand Fringe Festival this month.
As part of a partnership between two award-winning youth theatre companies - Wellington Young Actors and Churton Park Young Actors - 18 up and coming stars will each perform a 10-minute solo show.
With all those involved aged between 12 and 18 years old, the combined group is the youngest company to ever produce shows in the 27-year history of the Wellington festival.
For his solo, Gabe Parkin, 15, will portray Kiwi singer Neil Finn; an opportunity he said he wanted to make the most out of.
"You're performing at BATS so you don't want to only be on the stage for five minutes. You've worked for months on this so you don't want it to be over so quickly," he said.
For 2017, the Young Actors have created The Wirecutters, a series of solo performances each based on a famous - or infamous - Kiwi person.
Amongst those being brought to the stage are Katherine Mansfield and Gareth Farr, as well as some of the darker characters from New Zealand's history such as Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme.
Imogen Macalister, 17, began with actress Lucy Lawless but it didn't feel like the right fit so she made the decision to instead portray broadcaster Hilary Barry.
"I wasn't quite sure of who to do but as time has gone on I'm really glad I chose her."
This will be Imogen's first time being part of a Fringe Festival programme but for others, like Max Steel, 15, it is nothing new with 2017 his third year being involved.
However, he said this time felt more high-pressure with less guidance given than in previous years.
"This is the first time we're just being chucked out there by ourselves and the entire process has been entirely by ourselves as well."
Max will depict national coordinator and founding member of the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective Catherine Healey, whom his mother had worked alongside.
"She told me how cool she was and all the amazing things she had done so I was able to meet up with her and hang out which was cool," he said.
The Young Actors have created the pieces themselves with help from director, Deborah Rea, who herself created an award-winning solo, Take Back the Hood, for New Zealand Fringe Festival in 2013.
She wanted to help the young actors feel confident writing and performing their own material, rather than relying on others to give them a part.
"Wellington's theatre scene is shrinking day by day. Being able to create your own work is an absolute must-have skill to ensure any kiwi actor's survival.
"By being able to create their own work already at 12-18 years old, these actors have a secure future," said Rea.
* The Wirecutters, BATS Theatre, February 27 till March 4, tickets from bats.co.nz.