“We want to see what you CAN do, not what you can’t.” These words, of a St Peter’s Performing Arts teacher, motivated me back in Year 8 to audition for Aladdin - and they truly changed my life. Before starting at St Peter’s, I was never really that interested in the performing arts. I occasionally sang (badly) in primary school choirs and, at times, was unwillingly dragged along to watch my sister’s dance recitals. Instead, my passion lay solely in sports. From rugby to swimming to tennis, I was sports mad, just like many other kiwi boys. But that certainly changed once my eyes were opened to a world of possibility through the amazing performing arts teaching and programme at St Peter’s. Over the past 5 years I have been encouraged to get involved in a wide range of learning, competing and performance, both locally and nationally. It’s been crazy busy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. The exposure to the performing arts has ultimately helped me to become more well-rounded. Someone who strives to epitomise the school motto of ‘Body, Mind and Spirit.’
I have taken part in every performing arts opportunity I possibly could. I have taken weekly Speech and Drama lessons and Vocal lessons through school. In Year 9, I joined the school choir. I am in the minority usually with only a few other boys, but I have loved the chance to improve my singing and be with like-minded peers. It’s the best stress relief ever, and practice is a great way to kick off the school day. In Year 10, I auditioned for, and was accepted into, the senior school production of Miss Saigon. In Year 11, I auditioned for the senior school production of Bonnie and Clyde and was given a named role. In the same year I was also asked to take a lead role in the Year 13 NCEA Drama production, and had a lead role in the St Peter’s Sheilah Winn group. In Year 12, I was a member of the Shakespeare Club, the Musical Theatre Academy and Bella Voce. The standard of teaching and encouragement from itinerant teachers and performing arts staff is outstanding. They go way beyond the call of duty to ensure every student, whether they be first-time performers wanting to give something a go or seasoned performers looking to reach new heights, has the best experience possible.
Since Year 8, my passion has been with Speech and Drama. Weekly lessons with some of New Zealand’s most experienced teachers have allowed me to hone my craft and reach levels I never thought possible. One thing I’ve loved about Speech and Drama is that the teachers push you to excel at not only a school level but also a regional and national level. Highlights over the years include competing in and winning various categories of the school’s Drama Cup competition; the Hamilton, Te Awamutu and Tauranga Speech and Drama competitions; and receiving a nomination to compete at National Young Performer of the Year in 2019, where I made the semi-finals and won the People’s Choice Award. But the biggest highlight was definitely working with my St Peter’s buddy in drama, Matt Wightman, to win a place to represent St Peter’s and the Waikato at the National Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival held in Wellington. Performing to a large house on the stage at the Michael Fowler Centre was mind-blowing.
Performing Arts at St Peter’s has taught life-long lessons and has given me the courage to reach for the stars in whatever I aspire to do later on in life. Regardless of whether you’re already a keen performer or someone who’s more interested in academics or sport, I would encourage every student to give the performing arts a try. There is so much on offer and there really is something for everyone. There is a growing body of literature that highlights that time spent in performing arts pursuits is advantageous to academic learning and outcomes. On numerous occasions, I have drawn from what I have learned in drama, speech, singing and musical theatre to help me in class, in assessments, in exams, and in life.
I’ve always had a passion for performing and the St Peter’s performing arts programme has provided me with every opportunity under the sun. Since starting at this school in Year 9, I have been involved in Petra Musica and Viva Stringendo, playing the violin. In addition, I have also been able to enter the school’s music competitions, Bevan Cup and Kammermusik, with the help of weekly itinerant violin and voice lessons. The itinerant lessons been extremely beneficial, helping to extend and improve my abilities far beyond what I ever could do on my own.
As well as music, I have also had the chance to participate in behind the scenes of the youth production, Drama Clubs and our one of a kind - Musical Theatre Academy. Full of likeminded people, all with a love of musical theatre, there’s nothing quite like the Musical Theatre Academy. The sheer number of performance opportunities offered each year, including school productions Miss Saigon and Bonnie & Clyde, is what I have found to really help develop my confidence and push me to reach my full potential. From dance to drama to music, there’s something for everyone with the St Peter’s arts programmes.
My musical theatre journey began in 2015, as a nervous but eager, blonde headed Year 8 walking into the annual Prep Production auditions for Aladdin. To my surprise, I gained a role and in 10 weeks’ time was dancing, singing and acting on stage for the very first time. I instantly fell in love with the ‘show buzz’ and haven’t stopped since. In the 4 years following, I was in the senior school productions Into the Woods, Starlight Express, Miss Saigon and Bonnie and Clyde and am now about to begin my last show for the school - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The ‘Audi’ has become a home away from home for me. During production season I was spending 15+ hours at school, but because of that I was able to build close relationships with my peers, friends and performing arts staff, who have become like a second family. I always felt a sense of pride knowing I was a part of these high calibre shows because they were never just ‘High school Productions’ - they were so much more than that.
Since Year 7 I have been lucky enough to be involved in the instrumental lessons at St Peter’s. Weekly vocal lessons have not only helped me strengthen and build my voice, but allowed me to gain confidence in myself and the voice that I have. I have only ever felt support and positive encouragement from my teachers, focusing on ‘what I have’ rather than ‘what I don't have.’
In 2018 St Peters was the first school in New Zealand to introduce a ‘Musical Theatre Academy’, a prestigious Performing Arts group where we learn how to sing, dance and act focussing on the goal of becoming a ‘triple threat’. I was lucky enough to be a part of this Academy for both 2018 and 2019. It is truly inspiring to be surrounded by students of all ages who have the same passion for performing arts as I do and to be able to grow and develop my skills with the help and support of other musical theatre students.
I have always had a passion for Dance and Drama, so having the opportunity to educate myself further in these subjects was something I couldn’t turn down. I have taken Dance as a subject for 5 years and Drama for 4 years and it has been one of the best decisions I have made. Both Curriculum Dance and Drama have provided me with many interpersonal skills that I can take with me into future endeavours. The subjects allow me to flourish in positive environments, knowing that I have constant support from my teachers and peers.
St Peter’s really is about the opportunities it provides. Thanks to the facilities and culture that the performing arts admin and students have built, my younger Year 8 self has grown in many ways and has been shaped into the person I am today.
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