Youth given Permission to Speak

Pictured: Permission to Speak cast members and Mount Aspiring College students Lucy Fenton, Evie Simonsohn and Ollie Blyth (all 15 years old).


One unique theatre show featured in the Festival of Colour programme this year is Permission to Speak, presented by Goya Theatre. The show’s cast, co-directed by Fiona Armstrong and Jonathan James, consists entirely of 21 Mount Aspiring College students who will be voicing the many problems faced by youth in the modern world.

The directors are passionate about nurturing talent and are delighted to be able to put this performance in the hands of the students, and to share their stories with the community in April.

Fifteen-year-old cast members Lucy Fenton and Evie Simonsohn, who feature in the promotional imagery, are excited about the opportunity to perform in the production.

"I'm really excited for the Festival of Colour this year,” Fenton said. “I'm really excited to see everyone at the performance."

Simonsohn agreed: “I’m very, very excited to watch it all come together. You know, when you start with nothing and just suddenly you have a huge show.”

The students will start rehearsing next week for the six-night, eight-show run at the Wanaka Yacht Club.
A key theme of the show is literally giving youth permission to speak. From issues like body image, online safety, and locker room talk, the show will voice the many challenges that youth face in the present day. Armstrong said, “getting the younger generation in the theatre and the arts is the main thing.”

Armstrong and James are GOYA Theatre practitioners, who met at The Actor’s Programme in Auckland. Armstrong is no stranger to the Festival of Colour: Before moving to Auckland two years ago, she lived in Wanaka for five years. During her time here she was the assistant director of Festival of Colour show “Like There’s No Tomorrow”, among others. Armstrong was back in Wanaka last year filming murder mystery pilot “Constance” for TVNZ’s New Blood Competition. James is an Auckland-based performer, who originally trained in musical theatre. He has acted in numerous high calibre productions, including playing Danny in the Invercargill production of Grease.

Permission to Speak will run for eight shows during the Festival of Colour, spanning from Tuesday, April 2 to Sunday, April 7. Tickets are still available for the production online or by telephone on the Festival’s ticketing line at 022 4 TIX NOW (022 4 849 669).


Fiona Armstrong and Jonathan James are raising funds through art project crowdfunding platform Boosted. They hope to raise $5000 which will go towards better props & costumes; equipment to provide for the outdoor requirements of the show; and hiring lighting and sound equipment.


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