Boosting the voice of local youth

Pictured: Mount Aspiring College students cast in Permission to Speak.| Photo: Supplied

A group of Mount Aspiring College (MAC) music and drama students are asking for your support in helping them find their voice. The 21 students are cast in Permission to Speak, a GOYA Theatre show that will take the stage during the Festival of Colour and give voice to modern day societal concerns.

The show’s directors told the Wanaka Sun they are asking for community funding to give the audience the show they deserve.

“The crowd-funding campaign launched last week,” said co-director and GOYA Theatre practitioner Jonathan James. “We have reached 10 percent of our goal thanks to some very generous locals and theatre supporters in Auckland. We really need to reach 100 percent to help us create the best show experience for the students and put on the best performance possible.”

He said the play needs specific lighting, outdoor equipment in order to keep the audience dry and a sound system, all of which can be achieved if the crew’s $5000 donation goal is met.

“Crowdfunding works if lots of people donate little amounts,” he said. “If 500 people donated $10, we would be at our target. So we are asking the community to get behind us, donate the price of a sandwich and help the students have the professional performance they deserve.”

Permission to Speak is set in the Wanaka Yacht Club and is composed of a blend of teenager verbatim from nationwide interviews and online comments as well as students’ writing.

“[It’s] a really fun show; there's music, dancing, drama and [lots] of surprises along the way. It also has some touching and thought provoking moments embedded within it; the teenagers talk about consent, feminism and the dangers of social media,” said co-director and fellow GOYA Theatre practitioner Fiona Helen Armstrong.

The show will run for eight performances with the theme of giving the MAC students permission to speak.

“It’s such an interesting time in society today for teenagers and [it’s] confusing,” said Armstrong. “We are teaching our girls and boys to be feminists, have their own voices, fight the patriarchy and, at the same time, they are dealing with the impact of social media, peer pressure and, like all teenagers, they want to fit in. Theatre is an incredible opportunity to voice this and work through these issues.”

James said, “Fiona has been involved in the Festival of Colour for the last few years and has always wanted to debut GOYA's first collaborative youth project here. MAC has an amazing drama department, run by Emily McRae, so when we considered working with the students here, we knew we would be in for a high calibre of talent and enthusiasm. The show is programmed alongside some of the most prominent New Zealand theatre companies and shows, so it's a wonderful opportunity to showcase Wanaka's talent on a national level.”

Donations can be made and more information can be found on

Permission to Speak will run from April 2 until April 7. Tickets are still available on Festival of Colour’s website.



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