Shrewsbury School

Bentley Elocution Prize

Friday 23 February 2018

The annual late winter ritual of the Bentley Elocution Competition, the School’s principal exhibition of verse recitation, brought a splendidly attentive audience of elegantly suited Third Formers, 16 well-rehearsed and confident competitors, a gaggle of dactyls, a troupe of spondees (and a few sneaky slant rhymes) into the Ashton Theatre for the great event.

All performers not only got through to the end of their chosen pieces without interruption or hesitation, but most also invested their performances with a rich variety of tone and a measure of feeling successfully communicated to the audience.

Our judge, the Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden, widely known writer, broadcaster, and temporarily eye-patched ecclesiarch, was faced with a difficult set of choices. In his summary comments he powerfully emphasised the importance of the alchemy of collaboration between poet and performer on the one hand, and between the reciter’s brain and heart on the other.

According to these criteria, in the Third Form Class Henry Weir (O) was highly commended for his version of Kipling’s If and first prize was awarded to Eddie Cracknell (O) for R.S. Thomas’ Cynddlan on a Tractor.

In the Fourth Form Class, Lucy Lees (EDH) was highly commended for One Art by Elizabeth Bishop and Tom Allen (Ch) took first prize with his rendition of Housman’s On Wenlock Edge.

Elizaveta Stolyarova (G UVI) was highly commended for her performance of Margaret Atwood’s Variation on the Word Sleep in the Senior Class (Fifth and Sixth Forms), leaving Anya Tonks (MSH V) in possession of first prize for her rendition of Rupi Kaur’s Selfish.

For a successful and enjoyable evening we must offer our thanks to Dr Law, chief organiser of the event, to our judge Dr Ashenden who so effectively shared his insight, urbanity and discernment with us, to Mrs Leslie and her colleagues in the English Department, to Sara Luzny for her help with publicity materials and above all to the competitors themselves for yet again making this event such an important part of what we are about.

Mr Sheppe


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