Thursday April 5, 2018
Local youth tackle a coming of age story
From left, Cary Stackhouse, Aimee Smith, Cassandra Tse, Patrick Jennings, Konrad Makisi and Greer Samuel, part of the cast of the rock opera Spring Awakening. PHOTO: Ben Emerson
Walking up a confidence boost at Houghton Valley School
One of Wellington’s newest musical theatre companies, WITCH, is presenting the Tony award-winning rock opera Spring Awakening between April 10-21 at Bats Theatre. A number of young people from the cast are from the southern and eastern suburbs. The director, 24-year-old Ben Emerson, took on the challenge of the New Zealand premier, wanting to see a cast in their early 20’s directed by their peers. It is a very timely production, despite being based on a German play written in the late 19th century. The universal themes covered include exam pressures, sexual abuse, suicide, first love and an adult world which fails to provide a safe environment for young people. Ben says: “The ‘Spring Awak-
ening’ comes around every generation.” The show resonates in the 21st Century and it interesting that The Stoneman Douglas High School students who, following a massacre at their school, have been famously vocal in their quest for gun reform, were in fact rehearsing Spring Awakening at the time the killings occurred . Ben, as director, said he felt the biggest responsibility of the actors in his show was to unpack the emotion. “Make it honest and ensure it has a New Zealand voice”. He hopes that young people will come and see themselves in the characters, and maybe feel a little less lonely, and that adults will come to the show and see the need for change, “becoming the champions to opening up the world for these kids”.
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Art Prebble (right) and his younger brother Alfonso show off their feathered slippers for their school’s Fancy Feet Parade. PHOTO: Supplied
Walking to school solo recently has been a big confidence booster for sixyear-old Houghton Valley School pupil, Art Prebble. Encouraging kids to walk or wheel from home to school was one of a range of activities that Greater Wellington Regional Council promoted for last month’s Movin’March, which celebrated walking and “wheeling” to primary schools throughout the Wellington region. Art’s mum Natalie Keegan says that while at first she was nervous about him walking alone, she’s now embraced the idea as a great step towards more independence, which she says is just what a six-year-old is keen on.
“We are lucky enough to live a short distance from his school. I wave him off at the top of our drive and make sure I can see the school road patrol is there and often get a wave from the teacher on patrol. “Art has one road to cross and often neighbours are heading to school at the same time. “It was his idea to walk by himself and it has helped boost his confidence.” Research supports this, showing that walking and biking to school improves physical fitness and helps develop confidence, independence, decision making and risk assessment skills, improve communication with parents and build a stronger sense of community.
Cook Strait News 05-04-18