National Youth Drama School is over for another year.  So many were disappointed last year by the cancellation due to Covid, but this year, to everyone’s delight it went ahead with almost as many attendees as in the past. 

Running 17-25 April, 230 performing arts students aged between ages 15-19 flooded into Havelock North High School for the thirtieth year since its inception in 1992. They came from all over New Zealand for an inspiring eight days of theatre, film, design, technical theatre and film, songwriting, editing, dance, circus skills and more. 

The 15-minute showcase performances on the final weekend revealed what the week of tuition can do – scores of confident, high energy and creative young people extending their skills and loving every minute of it.

From Drag to Shakespeare, Songwriting to Scriptwriting, Circus to Stage Combat, the interests being catered for was wide ranging and frequently collaborative. The Playwriters provided scripts for the Advanced Acting group, who were in turn, directed by students of Stage Directing, with the Techies responsible for sound and light. A similar collaboration between groups was reflected in the final showings of Film Studies on the Sunday morning; the Screen Actors, screen makeup, Drag, stage 

Rangitane from afar were billetted with local families or stayed in school hostels, many have never been away from home and family before. The village filled with gaggles of teenagers as meal breaks freed them from their workshops and emptied again as they recommenced.

Circus skills student, Alice Hoogerbrug observes, “One thing I’ll never forget about NYDS is the culture of acceptance and support. It is so refreshing,” she says. It is Alice’s second NYDS event, the first was as a 15 year old in 2019 and also circus skills. She notes that no one was instructed to be kind and supportive but it happens quite naturally. “NYDS brings a bunch of people together who are already aware of the freedom of art and the personal expression it fosters, and they are let loose for a week of creative mayhem.”

“The tutors were flexible in guiding our individual skills and interests, it’s so cool. We are trusted to take responsibility for ourselves so we weren’t overly managed during the lunch and dinner breaks. It allowed a sense of personal independence and encouraged us to make connections with others across the different courses.” 

The workshops are taught by industry professionals who are active in their creative field and passionate about sharing their skills and experience. Many tutors first attended NYDS as students themselves and understand how this is a formative and life-changing experience. And with thousands of students since the first NYDS in 1991, it’d be pretty hard not to bump into them again. 

As NYDS boasts on its website “You’ll find former NYDS students at the forefront of our creative industries, working as artists, technicians, managers and producers in theatre, film and television and teaching at top tertiary training institutions in the arts. As a member of this unique creative community, you’ll make invaluable connections and friends for life.”

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