This week I sat down with Joshua Nightingale, Stage Challenge® 2015’s recipient of the National Award of Excellence for Student Leadership. The former Tawa College student explains how honoured he was to receive the acclaimed award and gives us his advice for future Stage Challenge and J Rock participants.


You won the National Award of Excellence for Student Leadership last year. How did it feel to find out you had won this?

It was such an honour, not only for myself, but for the whole Tawa College Stage Challenge team and for the school as a whole. Without them this would not have been possible. It puts all of my hard work and all the hard work of everyone around me into perspective, and I couldn’t be happier with what we produced. Receiving this award was just an honour which reinforced the work put in to produce our Stage Challenge.


What do you think is in the recipe to be a great leader?

You have to be organised! It is imminent that all the forms are completed on the certain dates, all the busses are booked for the correct dates, and that the sets and costumes are all going to be here on time. You must have good communication with the teachers, your committee, and the students. I think the key to being a good leader is having a picture of what you want in your mind but also letting the other committee members have a picture in their head of what they want, and when the two combine it creates something special. I will be forever thankful to those who contributed from our committee and helped to create and inspire our amazing piece.


Describe your overall Stage Challenge experience…

Stage Challenge truly is a magical thing. We often found ourselves getting caught up in the minor details, when actually if you take a step back and think about what we have created – the hours, days, weeks, months that we (in my case it was 10 students ranging from ages 15-17), have spent and what we have created, it is truly incredible. As a leader of this, I was so proud of what we created.


Why do you think Stage Challenge is an important event for students to be a part of?

It’s all student-led. We are taught so many different skills; no matter if you are a participant, a committee member, a leader, or a director – even the teacher in charge learns a lot! We learn skills ranging from discipline, respect, organisation, delegation and participation.


You were one of the student leaders on Tawa College’s Stage Challenge performance last year. Do you have any advice for future Stage Challenge and J Rock participants?

Go hard, fight for what you love and just try your hardest – no one asks for any more than that!


Do you wish to pursue a career in the arts?

In July I am off to live in Los Angeles for nine months and go to a performing arts college called The Young Americans – a non-profit organisation which teaches students to become inspiring teachers. From there we get to travel around the world with The Young Americans and go into primary schools, high schools, homeless shelters and we use our love of performing arts to inspire them.


Don’t miss the 2016 Stage Challenge touring this May and June! To find out more information and for this year’s show dates, head along to

Stage Challenge® involves dancers, actors, performers, lighting liaisons, teachers, set and design crew and make-up teams. There’s an opportunity for everyone of all different backgrounds to let their talent shine on and off the stage.