“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” wrote Wordsworth. “It takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.” Finalists of the Bentley Elocution Prize this week delivered recitations that embraced silken power and finesse that would have made him proud.
Lower and Upper School contestants treated a rapt audience to a diversity of works and styles, from Milton, Shakespeare, Hopkins and Housman to Brian Bilston and Harry Baker, as they vied for the laurels of one of the oldest and most eagerly contested annual school competitions.
High quality was ensured by Dr Law as a commanding presence in the competition’s organisation and as MC throughout the competition. In an impeccable adjudication in Monday’s final, all present were lucky to hear the inspiring and instructive comments of acclaimed actor Rufus Wright, whose theatre credits include West End and Broadway hit, The Audience, with film credits including Star Wars and the James Bond blockbuster, A Quantum of Solace.
Joining Sir Michael Palin - a previous Bentley winner - in the illustrious annals of the competition were Third Former Ed Pickersgill (R) for an engrossing comic turn with Edgar’s Asparagus and Fourth Former Georgina Cooper (G) with The Listeners, praised for its poise and sense of drama.
The Upper School prize went to Orlando Williams (Rt) for his impassioned and unplugged rendition of Frank Turner’s I knew Prufrock before he got famous. Highly commended were, respectively, Kate Woodman (M) and Tabitha Winkley (G) in Lower School, and in Upper School, Emily Hartland (G) and Issy Wong (G).