Last Friday, on 11/11/11, a group of us went to Bristol to take part in auditions for the BBC Shakespeare speech competition, ‘Off By Heart’. We knew we were up against some difficult competition, hundreds of students from all around the country had entered, and the finalists are going to feature in a BBC reality show to be broadcast on BBC2 next year.
Our group included Charlotte Beechener, Year 10, reciting Titania’s speech from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’; and Ollie Heaton and Mattie Heathcote, Year 8, both performing the ‘Dagger’ speech from ‘Macbeth’.
When we got to the venue in we were put into separate groups, unfortunately we were all in different ones. Things were a bit tense at this point! We knew we were going to take part in workshops with professional actors, but that at some stage we would be asked out to perform our audition in front of a panel of judges. Luckily, the workshops were so much fun we soon lost our nerves. “Our group got in a real muddle, in one of the activities we had to clap when the group leader said ‘jump’ and jump when he said ‘clap!’”, said Ollie. However, we did get some good tips on how to improve our performance.
When it came time for the audition itself, the judges were very friendly. “My knees began to shake,” said Ollie, “but after I’d finished I felt very proud of myself.” Mattie said he felt slightly nervous, “but after I got going, I enjoyed it.” The judges gave us lots of useful advice and were very encouraging. “They told me they really enjoyed my performance,” said Ollie. “And they thought my gestures were very effective,” added Mattie. Charlotte commented, “The judges said they liked the imagery I created, and the fact that I took a different aspect of the character of Titania to the way it’s usually performed.”
Having seen some of the performances from other members in our groups we knew that the competition was tough. “The girl in my group who won was extremely good, and she was really interesting to work with,” said Charlotte. Unfortunately it was not to be our day, but we came away with a few gifts – mug, a key and a certificate to remember the day by.
“It was a really interesting experience and it definitely made Shakespeare fun, which was a different way of looking at it,” said Charlotte.