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Westminster Kingsway College’s Performing Arts students ‘achieve greatness’ in production of Twelfth Night

Aspiring actors from Westminster Kingsway College took to the stage when they starred in Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Twelfth Night.

Two casts of Performing Arts students performed abridged and pantomime versions of the Bard’s work at the college’s theatre at its King’s Cross Centre from 7-8 December.

Twelfth Night tells the story of twins, Viola and Sebastian, who are separated after a shipwreck. Viola, disguised as a page boy, falls in love with Duke Orsino. However, Duke Orsino is in love with Countess Olivia who in turn, falls for Viola thinking she is a man.

Zaris-Angel Hator, 17, who played Viola, said: “I’d never read the play before, so I’ve had to explore it and understand Shakespeare and the language. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been really fun to do.

“Viola’s quite reserved and wants to do the right thing but has a crush on her master who is in love with Countess Olivia. We’ve all had crushes and trying to get them to fancy you when they like somebody else. I’ve been through that and I used it to develop her character. I also worked with my teacher on my voice to get make myself less feminine. It was quite challenging because the audience needs to know it’s still Viola but she’s also playing someone else.”

Shakira Yearwood-Hines, 18, who played Duke Orsino, said: “Orsino is in love with Countess Olivia and really wears his heart on his sleeve. I tried to be really manly and pick up on the little things he does. I actually enjoyed playing a man, I’m a bit of a tomboy and the females in Shakespeare are just too dainty.

“I loved doing the play. It meant stepping out of my comfort zone. I mainly sing and dance, and acting isn’t something I would never normally have tried. It was difficult at first, but my teacher has helped me come along way and given me more confidence.”

“I love the creative process of starting with nothing and building your character, and each time you add something you reveal more about them. I love that you can change an audience’s perspective or way of thinking, or if they are having a hard day you can make them smile.”

The play was directed by Performing Arts lecturer Rob Alexander who will be leaving WestKing this academic year after nearly two decades at the college.

His former students include actors Jumayn Hunter, Tobi King Bakare, Francis Lovehall, Romario Simpson, Babyre Bukilwa and comedians Babatúndé Aléshé and Jamali Maddix.

Rob said: “This was the first full production the students have put on in two years because of the pandemic. They all worked incredibly hard on what were quite complex scripts and deserved all the plaudits they received.

“I’ve had a fantastic 19 years at WestKing. We’ve worked with professional companies, put on some fantastic productions and taught some very talented students. I’m not aware any other FE college has the same number of alumni we have working as actors or in music or comedy.

“To quote Twelfth Night, ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.’ I hope in some small way I have helped each of my students be the greatest they can be.

“I will miss WestKing enormously, but as they say the show must go on.”

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