Shakespeare experience ahead for St John's pair
After dropping drama for the "more academic" subject of biology this year, a Hamilton high school student is amazed to be among an elite few selected to study at London's Globe Theatre.
Zac Leet-Guinan, 17, a year 12 student at St John's College, was one of 24 students selected from an original 5500 candidates to be a member of the prestigious Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand Young Shakespeare Company next year.
St John's College's success doubled when its drama teacher, Jacqui Wheeler, was named as one of 20 teachers selected for the SGCNZ Teachers Go Global group.
Zac understood Cambridge High School student Jamie North had also been selected for the trip.
Zac and Miss Wheeler will travel to London for three weeks at the same time - July next year - but for the most part they will do separate Shakespeare-themed workshops and activities while there.
"That's something in Zac's benefit," Miss Wheeler said.
"Who wants their teacher hanging around?"
Despite the quip, there was clearly a strong bond between Miss Wheeler and Zac and his classmates, who were in year 9 when she started at St John's College.
This year drama did not fit into Zac's timetable, but he and about six of his keen thespian peers spent many hours - during lunch, after school and in weekends - working with Miss Wheeler on various Shakespearean activities.
"I don't really know anything but Shakespeare," Zac said.
"Miss [Wheeler] introduced me to it."
Zac said The Merchant of Venice, in which he had played the evil character of Shylock at the SGCNZ National Shakespeare Schools Production week earlier this year, was his favourite of Shakespeare's works, but he had not always been a fan of the writer.
"I didn't like [Shakespeare] at the start.
"I pretty much rejected it because of the language."
Zac said it was "a bit unbelievable" that his first overseas trip in memory (he was born in Australia) would be to Britain.
But with $16,000 to raise between them - $7500 for Miss Wheeler and $8500 for Zac - the trip would not come easily.
"I have a part-time job down the road at The Woodbox - I'm hoping to get a lot more shifts over the summer. I have a lot of saving and fundraising to do."