Fifteen Hawkes Bay Youth Theatre ambassadors and their support crew have returned from their cultural and performance tour to Wellington and Australia, hungry for more. Hungry for more opportunities to perform and for more opportunities to train in theatre. The tour of Romeo and Juliet had its first stop in Wellington where the troupe were treated to a workshop with Meisner Technique expert Deb Mulholland. Sponsored by The Drama Workshop, the session was an introduction to Meisner and an affirmation of the work on connection that had already begun with directors Peter Cottrell and Champa Maciel. From there, the four days in Sydney was an opportunity to visit the amazing facilities at AFTRS (Australian Film, Television and Radio School) and attend world class theatre including a heart wrenching play at Belvoir St Theatre and the amazing Bangarra Dance Theatre at Sydney Opera House.
The extraordinary and moving ‘30 Years of Sixty Five Thousand’, a mosaic of memorable company works and an homage to the past thirty years of Bangarra’s world class and groundbreaking work.
“We are so fortunate to be able to share with these young people a rich array of different performance languages, they all feed and grow the possibilities of our rangatahi, and challenge the way we perceive art and culture in the modern world.” Champa Maciel, HaBYT’s movement director and co-director of R n J.
In Brisbane the community and school performances kicked off with audiences big and small but all very appreciative. One teacher commented that the gift of seeing theatre for the first time, especially theatre by young people, was the greatest gift of all. Students who were heading into studying R n J in English were extremely grateful for the opportunity to have the story presented in such an accessible way. This reflected the experience of Taradale High School teacher Jane Pierard who made similar comments after HaBYT’s visit to their school as part of the Hawkes Bay season before leaving for their tour. The community performance at Reload Espresso Bar in Brisbane was particularly memorable with representatives from Brisbane’s theatre and music scene, drama educators, university lecturers and family and friends in the audience. Co-director Peter Cottrell says that the biggest challenge for the company now is to keep the momentum going. We have engaged the students in helping to design the program for the next half of the year and are pretty confident that what has been designed will be fulfilling and challenging. “We have new students auditioning for a spot in Habyt and it’s important that we keep the program relevant and interesting for everyone”. Producer Juliet Cottrell is always on the lookout for new opportunities for the group and has her sights set on the Galway International Arts Festival who have an engaging and vibrant youth theatre scene as part of the festival. “I’d like to think that our students could also have a voice at our own local Arts Festival one day”. For now it is back to school and work and their regular weekly class for the young people who are drawn from many schools across Hawkes Bay bringing a diverse set of skills and experiences to the group. HaBYT are here to stay and will continue to build on the work started over fifteen years ago by Ken Keys, now run by Peter and Juliet Cottrell. “We are already planning our fourth trip to Australia and who knows – perhaps Ireland. We are committed to continue providing a sustainable training programme for young people in Hawkes Bay, some come for a year, most stay for three”.