Role playing

19:15, Nov 26 2012
Emily Hurley
Emily Hurley and Ashton Blake Barlow try out costumes while practising their lines for the Much Ado About Nothing auditions

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."

The line comes from Shakespeare's play, Twelfth Night, and it might inspire Marlborough actors to audition for another of the bard's plays in Blenheim next weekend.

The cast for Much Ado About Nothing is going to be a large one and Blenheim college students Emily Hurley and Ashton Blake-Barlow are both keen to join it.

Emily says director Denise Moran is re-setting the play in 1940s Marlborough, when soldiers are returning from World War II. "She wanted to make it more accessible."

Ashton, who likes the idea of playing Claudio, the second male lead whose intended marriage to a woman named Hero provides much of the plot in Much Ado About Nothing, hopes people will overcome their nerves and turn up for the auditions.

He was introduced to Shakespeare by a 2010 drama teacher who urged Ashton to "have a go".


"Now I can't get enough of the stuff."

Emily feels similarly entranced.

Her drama teacher Pam Logan gave her a part in Midsummer Night's Dream and Emily remembers it being fun but she knew she wasn't very good.

A few more lessons and a little more practice led to her and another year-11 student, Nerys Udy, doing a scene from Twelfth Night and winning a place in the Shakespeare Globe Centre National University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival, in Wellington. Emily also wooed judges in the 2012 Marlborough Performing Arts Festival when she gave a Twelfth Night soliloquy as Violet.

Understanding what the character is saying is important when doing Shakespeare, Emily says.

Words and even the punctuation he used in his scripts contain clues and subtleties that bring his lines alive once understood, she says.

"And the vocabulary is different but the meaning is still there."

Ashton has competed in three Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festivals at regional level, made it into the national event the first time and this year was awarded direct entry to the National Shakespeare School Production in October for his portrayal of Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream

He had "learned heaps" in the week-long Shakespeare Schools Production course.

"I learned to be more myself on stage because I used to slip into my characters' roles." He laughs. "When I played Dracula . . . I played myself as much as I played Dracula.

Auditions for will be held at 6pm on Sunday, December 2 and at 7pm on Monday, December 3 at the Boathouse Theatre, Blenheim. Jazz musicians and singers interested in performing 1940s jazz and swing songs are also sought. Visit the Boathouse Theatre group's Facebook page or

The Marlborough Express