In January, Brisbane’s Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts hosted ‘Shake Fest’, and the Queensland Youth Shakespeare Festival’s latest production of ‘As You Like It’.
This colourful version of Shakespeare’s classic boasted the talents of Queensland’s finest school-aged actors; among them local Bracken Ridge students, Feba Philip and Jessica Pinto, from St John Fisher College.
The talented young performers were selected, following a mass audition process that covered all Queensland. “Shake Fest brings students from all around the state to celebrate the works of William Shakespeare,” said ‘As You Like It’ director Madeline Römcke. “By giving students the opportunity to use their skills in a professional theatre environment, they can get a real idea of what this career would be like.”
School-aged artists were invited to a series of workshops that covered acting, music, dance, film and photography. A select few went on to perform at a regional Festival in October last year. Shake Fest ended with ‘As You Like It’, where 20-30 of the best students were invited to be a part of the ensemble.
Year 12 saxophonist, drummer and vocalist, Feba Philip, was among musicians, who were tasked with composing a musical soundtrack to support the production.
“I’ve been able to bring my own ideas to the table and also get something out of the production itself,” said Philip. “I have developed a love for Shakespeare and it’s an absolute honour to take part in a Shake & Stir production.”
Self-taught hip-hop dancer, Jessica Pinto, incorporated her skills into a dance element where students were given the opportunity to express narrative through dance, led by choreographers Chace Wales-Collis and Rebecca.
“We’ve created an experience and a community that stays with these teens well into their university education and into their careers,” said assistant director, Jess Bunz.
Shake & Stir Theatre Company is one of Australia’s leading contemporary theatre companies, providing workshops, school touring and professional productions. 2020 marks Shake Fest’s eighth year of helping young artists showcase their talents.