Thursday, October 22, 2015

QUOTING SHAKESPEARE!

Each year, the English Speaking Union invites students and their teachers/directors to participate in their National Shakespeare Competition.  It all starts in the classroom.  Schools all over the country conduct in house, school wide Shakespeare competitions in which scholars present a memorized monologue of no more than 20 lines.  After the school selects a winner, they are sent along with other scholars across their state, to compete at the branch level.  This time, they present their monologue and one of Shakespeare's sonnets.

The lucky scholar selected at the branch level is then flown out for a week long trip to New York City, where they are dined, entertained, and have the opportunity to mingle with other branch winners and students of the infamous Julliard School.  The grand finale, however, is that each student gets to perform his/her monologue, sonnet and a cold read on the stage at Lincoln Center in the National competition.

The competition is stiff.  Every scholar brings with him or her a uniquely brilliant interpretation of
the Great Bard.  The judges no doubt agonize over their decision, but only one lucky scholar will be chosen as the grand prize winner.  This scholar will win an all expenses paid trip in the summer to study at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.  A second place scholar at competition is awarded a scholarship to the American Shakespeare Center's Theater Camp in Staunton, Virginia, including tuition, transportation, food, and accommodations.  The third place scholar wins a $500 scholarship from The Shakespeare Society of New York City.

This year, Odyssey Institute will be participating in the competition, and I personally could not be more excited.  I would like nothing more than to see one of our scholars take their bow at Lincoln Center as a finalist, or dare I say, board a flight to London to study at The Royal Academy!  Just for fun, here are two videos.  The first is the National winner from Hawaii, and the second is the Branch winner from Arizona who was sent to compete in New York.  I am happy to say he did place in the top ten.

Watch the two videos and then please share your insights, evaluations, and comments.  It brings me great joy to share these amazing performances with you!




78 comments:

  1. These both cold reads and sonnet readings give me chills. I genuinely feel as if I am watching a full sought out performance not just a reading. They read with great emotion and inflection. I could only dream to have their memorization and quick thinking skills. When Sarah read she had to change her tone from the cold read to sonnet, and how quickly she could switch roles amazes me. These videos were not only enjoyable entertaining.

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    1. I agree! The cold reads were exciting to watch because they make it look easy. You can definitely practice and get better at them, and there are tricks you can employ, but in the end, it comes down to connection. If you can quickly find some connection with the character or his/her situation, that is what will make it stand out. Yes--how quickly they shift in and out of character is amazing. That's a true professional!

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  2. Can I just start off by saying that anyone that can get up in front of a large audience and act is simply amazing. I think it is marvelous that Odyssey scholars have the chance this year to participate in the National Shakespeare Competition! I honestly believe that one of the scholars here could win the whole thing. I really wish I had the guts to do what these kids do. I love how you can see the way the actor changes character each time he or she reads a different piece. After watching the two video links you provided, I ended up watching more.

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    1. I think you definitely have the guts--you do amazing things out there on the field in front of a large audience as a cheerleader, too! But I know what you mean. It is tough when you are standing up there speaking, all eyes on you. I have the same personality type as you, and getting up to speak in front of a big audience always upsets my stomach. But with theater, you're not you. When you learn how to shift characters, the nerves are not as bad, because there is someone to hide behind, or at least, that's how I look at it. I think you could surprise yourself! :)
      That is so cool that you watched others! You'll have to share links with some of your favorites. I would love to see them!

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  3. I really enjoyed watching these students perform their cold reads, sonnets, and monologues. Ever since the first Shakespeare play that I've been in, I've loved the way he writes. At first Shakespeare may be confusing, but when you look deeper and truly understand what he is saying you find so much more meaning and its really beautiful. I am definitely going to participate in the National Shakespeare Competition and I think that it is going to be an amazing opportunity. Monologues are also really fun because during monologues, it's all eyes on you. Except, you're not you anymore. You become your character and get to forget about everything else you're doing. My favorite Shakespearean play that I have ever been in is Romeo and Juliet. I was The Nurse when we performed the play and I had such an amazing time. I felt like I had connected with the character more than I ever had before and it was a magical experience.

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    1. I am glad to hear you will be participating in the competition. It is an amazing opportunity. I am happy to hear that you felt so connected to the nurse. It was a fabulous performance. That particular production will always be magical to me.

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  4. I find these performances to be incredible and inspiring. They really bring Shakespeare's work to life. Being a performer of Shakespeare myself, I can attest to the difficulty of it all, and these performers have done amazing things with what they were given. It would be an honor to be able to compete for this competition, I can't even imagine getting the opportunity to be able to perform along such great actors as these. I am kind of jealous of the acting ability that these people have, and it would be an amazing opportunity to be able to act alongside them.

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    1. You do know the difficulty! You took on an incredible challenge as Macbeth and you were sort of thrown into it. I know it was a lot of work--more than people think it is--but every time you encounter a big challenge like it and work it through to performance, you grow more and more as an actor. Don't be jealous, keep working. I hope you participate in the competition. You have come a LONG way, and your performance of Macbeth, who is one of the hardest characters to play, was excellent. You should also be very proud of that performance. I am super disappointed we don't get to take it to Scotland for real, but I am excited they will see it live stream! :)

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  5. I have seen both of these videos twice, and I am interested no matter how many times I watch them. Both of these individuals are very,very talented! I have never performed Shakespeare, but I have seen many Shakespearean plays and the language is beyond beautiful. This opportunity for the Odyssey Institute to be able to be a part of this great organization is an amazing opportunity for these young actors/actresses. There is no doubt in my mind that one of my fellow thespians will win this whole thing. I am hoping that when I am in college I still get to be able to be a part of the plays/musicals. I love how tight knit the theatre program is and I am thrilled to call everyone a part of the program my friend. So excited for what is to come for our theatre program in the near future!

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    1. You're a great actress, Samantha, and you really saved me in stage managing, too! I would actually love to have you and Avi on the panel to judge our Odyssey competition because you both know the challenges of Shakespeare too well and will offer a very valuable student voice. I hope we can make that happen! :)

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  6. These performances were chilling. Though I have never participated and read sonnets or monologues in a Shakespearian play, I can tell the amount of talent it takes to perform one so boldly and do justice to the language. I am fascinated alone with the talent and ability of being able to memorize this language. Something I observed in both videos was how before reading the script, both actors took a second or two to put themselves into character. I admire that, and see it as dedication to not only playing the part, but becoming it. It has been so great to see our own Odyssey scholars perform these plays, and observe the amount of talent and work they put into them to bring us (the audience) into those settings.

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  8. SARAH SPALDING! Instantly cracked a smile when I heard how wonderfully she said those words. She had this edge with body language that gave her voice more power. Not to mention the first two monologues she did needed that edge to them. The style was so firm, but yet I felt comfortable watching, like I could continue to watch an entire show if everyone had that edge. The other performance was excellent as well. Coming from that background of acting it reminds me why I love to do it. Unfortunately I don't currently have the time to audition for the opportunity, but after watching that I am considering just memorizing Shakespeare just because. A++

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  9. Those performances were amazing. It takes so much talent to be able to get up in front of so many people, memorizing lines, and showing an incredible amount of emotion. I really liked Hale Stewart's Mercutio performance; it had a lot of feeling and it was amusing. Sarah Spalding had a lot of power in her performance and I could see why she won. I admire people who put themselves out there and commit so fully to what they want. It's awesome that Odyssey gets to participate and there are so many talented scholars that would do amazing.

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  10. These performances were amazing! I especially loved each of their monologues because they made the characters come to life with personality and gestures. I liked how each of them were comedic in their own way as well. I could see why Sarah won; she had such an edge to her performance. They were both so confident on the stage, and that takes guts. It would be awesome to see someone from our school be able to go far in the competition, and I think there is a great possibility that one of our scholars could win the whole thing. Watching these videos along with Macbeth last Friday makes me want to see as many plays as I get the chance to in the future. They are beautiful pieces of art to get lost in, so you'll be seeing me a lot at future performances at school. :)

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  11. OH MY GOODNESS! Don't even get me started on the competition! Let me get this out of the way first, I am SUPER exited for being able to participate in it next year and I want to more than anything. Being able to be apart of this means the world to me. I also want to say that the it does take a special breed of actor in order to win this intense competition. The way that the performers communicate with their audience is truly amazing. Their voices, their confidence are astounding and can only be discribed as what I strive to be like. When I was young I was never really in to Shakespeare and The Theatre at all, that is up until recently. I have had the joy of working with Mrs. Caraway on all of her shows and what an experience the have been. These shows are the single thing that have shown me how amazing Shakespeare can be and have given me a greater appreciation for the Bard himself. Performing is my life and my blood, I'm just glad that Mrs. Caraway helped me see that. I'm Uber pumped for the competition and I'm even more pumped to win... ;D

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  12. These kids are extremely talented! The use of body language was very powerful in my opinion. As my little acting experience I have, I often find myself thinking "Okay, what are your hands doing right now?" Once upon a time, many, many, years ago, I sang a karaoke bar on a cruise ship. After I was done, a woman approached me who ended up being one of the lead dancers on the cruise line applauded my performance and told me that her biggest complaint with me would've been that I held my arms too close to my body. She told me "When you close yourself off from the audience, they will never be able to connect with you. They will never be able to believe you." Even though that feels like a lifetime ago, I always remembered that and seeing it come to life in these videos was a good reminder about how important body language is for actors, singers, dancers and even public speakers.
    Thanks for sharing and for putting on this competition on for our scholars. I can't wait for more people to see just how much talent we have at Odyssey. :)

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  13. I found these cold reads crazy, their ability to switch emotions between each line. If I could find a monologue with more emotion of happiness and laughter like the first performers I think I would definitely perform in front of the school. The memorization would probably be the second hardest thing just because I don't use that type of language on a daily basis. It would definitely take a lot of focus and practice to perform nearly as well as the performers in the videos.

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  14. I am simply amazed by the talent both of Sarah & Hale have; the memorization of the lines, the cold reads done so well and the combination of enthusiasm and physical movement that was incorporated with the lines. It was very well noticed that they worked very hard to show the judges and audience an expectacular performance. I really enjoyed how Sarah changed her tone, inflection on certain words, used her body movement very well and especially facial expressions. Many people can memorize the lines but not many can comprehend and show emotional while reading them. Body language and enthusiasms is very important when it comes to performances because it helps the viewer understand what they are trying to convey. Hale did a very good job of playing one of Mercutios monologues and tying in “special effects” within, such as taking out the sword and putting it back even though it was an illusion.

    I am beyond excited for some of the Odyssey scholars to compete at the National Shakespeare Competition. I know that we have very talented people and I believe that one of them can win it all! I will be there supporting all of those who decide to participate the entire way no matter what. I am very proud of the theater program and those who decide to compete. It is not an easy task.

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    1. I agree on the illusion! Very clever of Hale. I noticed how both actors chose sonnets and monologues that opposed each other emotionally so that they could display range of emotion, too. They knew how to showcase their gifts!

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  15. I think that these two students were simply amazing. I agree with you, Hannah they gave me chills. Their cold reads were extremely well articulated and I love the change in facial expressions as they spoke their lines. They didn't need props or other actors or a real set to perform they just went straight into our theatre program. It is very impressive how well they put themselves into the character assigned to them. I am excited who will step up and be chosen to represent our school in this competition.

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  16. These kids have some real big guts going out there and performing this. Both these videos were beyond amazing. They gave me the chills! Sarah seemed as if she already knew what the cold read was. The way she responded to it was just incredible. I loved her tone of voice and facial expressions. The way she transitioned from all three was just impressive. When Hale did Mercutios monologue it was interesting how he used the illusion effect. I liked his body movement and facial expressions, and how they all go together. It must have taken both of these students a long time to prepare for this. It takes a lot of time, effort, and memorization!

    I would never be able to do something like that. I am excited to see who tries out for this at our school. Anyone can do it, if they set their mind to it.

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  17. Sarah Splading was by far the greatest cold reader I have ever seen. Granted, I haven't seen a lot, but she did so great. She interpreted the text so well and played the character flawlessly. I really enjoyed how she would play a role, turn around, and then jump into another role. That takes a lot of talent to just jump between characters like that. Hale Stewart also did a great job. I loved how he played the role of Mercutio. It seems like he was made for that part.

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  18. This was amazing to watch. The way the actors were able to inflect their voice at just the precise moment and showed their understanding of the text so well. Some traits I saw each actor rely on was for their monologues they mostly looked up unless the monologue was spoken to someone else (Mercutio). Both actors also moved around and physically showed what their character was talking about. Sarah Spalding in her sonnet when showed spite, entertainment, sadness, and happiness when her character spoke about those traits. Hale Stewart also showed the references Mercutio was making during his monologue. You could also tell the actors fully understood what their pieces were saying and what their characters were like. This is vital when portraying the character. Finally, their faces were amazing the way they were able to manipulate their faces to make the exact expression that was needed. It wasn't just their smile that they changed, but their eyebrows and eyes. It was amazing to watch these actors quoting Shakespeare. They did such a wonderful job.

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  19. Both of these students had incredible power within them. It amazed me how they were both able to present their cold reads so well (something I could never do). It was interesting how most of the depth from their performances didn't come from their gestures or bodily motions (although that did help) it came from their words and how they presented them. They're voice inflections along with their facial expressions conveyed both their own spin and what I believe would have been the authors original intentions. These renditions very much reminded me of our schools own performers and lead me to believe that a few of our schools own scholars will have chances to preform with the top contestants. It's so great that we live in our country where students have an opportunity to work on what they love, express that with others and take advantage of other opportunities that then stem from that love.

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    1. It always gives me such joy to witness people doing what they love! Their passion is just as infectious as their talent.

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  20. It really does amaze me how people take on rolls of completely different people and in thes instances three in less than 5 minuets. Both were amazing but I could especially feel the emotion and the passion from Sarah. She used her body and her face to help express the words she was speaking. The cold reads were also very impressive. I'm sure if I was immersed in Shakespeare as much as they were the cold read would be as intimidating as it sounds. Even being in theatre class in front of a few people is intimidating and I can only imagine the pressure on these competitions.

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  21. These two videos were both so amazing. Both of them have extreme talent. When they preformed, they had the ability to capture the whole audience which I think is really incredible. Standing in front of a large crowd can be very intimidating. They were able to connect with the characters which makes the performance even more enjoyable. It's amazing how they can memorize the lines and show body language as well. I thought Sarah and hale both did a really good job with her facial expressions and moving around on stage. When they started performing they took on their rolls so professionally and were able to stay in character. Not everyone can do that, so they do have a special gift.

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  22. Man oh man were these kids amazing. The girl just had the face for it. she was able to emote really well and it allowed her to go rapidly between a bunch of different emotions in a short period of time. And her body language added to it all the more. I know for a fact i'm not able to do anything remotely close to that, because i'd laugh way too much. The boy was a joy to watch, especially his Romeo and Juliet part. He took the character of Mertrucio, and brought out the comedic aspect, the body language and facial expressions took the characters role to a whole other level. I wish i had the ability to do stuff like that, because maybe id be able to talk better in front of people. I'm glad they were blessed with the ability to do such things.

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  23. I thought it was really cool how they just seemed to completely immerse themselves into the worlds of the characters. You could kinda see who they are as people when they were introducing what they would be reciting and when they were going up onto the stage. However, when they started performing what they prepared, they completely transformed into an entirely different person from a different place and different time. It makes me wonder how people are able to manage just completely dropping everything that is happening in their personal lives and just change into someone else with different issues and in a completely different situation. That transformation alone was what I thought was the coolest about those videos.

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    1. I have to agree. They became their characters--even in the cold reads!

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  24. These were absolutely phenomenal cold readings and sonnets. Although I couldn't understand the meaning of what they we're saying, when they would chuckle as they spoke or raised their voices and widened their eyes, I could then understand the context and it was no longer them memorizing a reading and then preforming, but it was as if they were genuinely talking to me. They were so captivating in the way that they would talk using their hands. The way they could transition from an overwhelming amount emotions so freely yet with so much power made my heart beat faster and made me intrigued to know what they were going to do next. Neither the boy or girl held back from anything or had any distractions, in that moment they just focused on expression and it made the readings that much more incredible. It reminded me of the Macbeth performance at school where all the actors made the audience connected with them and it wasn't just them reading a script, it was that individual's interpretation of the character they had to play. These actors were all amazing on their own and didn't need an props or special effects to make their performances more powerful they just needed emotion filled voices. It was so inspiring how passionate they both were.

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    1. I am so happy to hear the actors in Macbeth connected with you! They have a great chance, I believe, of possibly winning the branch competition. It's a lot of work and luck, too, but they definitely have the talent. :)

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  25. I want to start off by saying I do truly admire anyone who can get up in front of a bunch of people and perform like this. Acting isn't really my thing but it doesn't mean I don't enjoy and are amazed by people who have the courage and the talent to do something like that. The videos were very entertaining and it was cool to see how they changed into different characters on the spots. They spoke so clear and really did justice to the characters (my favorite being Mercutio). Something like this is an amzing opportunity and I agree it would be amazing to see one student from here up on that stage performing, perhaps even winning the whole thing. That being said I wish the best of luck to anyone who enters this competition and I admire your bravery.

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  26. I was greatly shocked and amazed at the amount of talent in these videos. It's truly impressive when someone has the courage and confidence to stand in front of a crowd and perform in any style. I was surprised how at one point, the actors were themselves, and the next, they were a completely different character. It amazes me how the actors appeared so comfortable with what they do. They make it look so easy. I felt myself getting chills as each one performed. As an audience member, I could feel the passion and intense emotions. It was also incredible to me, how these actors have the ability to memorize the Shakespearean language. This is true talent, and I'm lucky to be able to witness it.

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  27. I was amazed by this. One thing that I wish that I had the courage to try is acting. They made it look so easy and natural, the way they BECAME the characters that they were portraying. As Daniela said almost every performance gave me the chills and I cant explain why. It really is an incredible talent to be able to do that. I think that some of the scholars from our school have what it takes to compete at that level, and I cannot wait to see how they do.

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  28. Whether you're someone you likes Shakespeare or doesn't like Shakespeare, you can admire the talent these individuals possess. To be able to stand in front of a group of people and put on a solo performance is not something I could do. I thought it was insane how they could be handed a piece of literature and then perform it like they had been practicing it for hours! The emotion they were able to portray just with their voices was incredible. I knew exactly how the character was feeling and what they were thinking just by the infliction in their voice. Personally, I liked Hale's performance a little bit more because he took his monologue to the next level and used gestures and motions to portray Mercutio. Both put on a great performance and I know the Competitors from our school can represent us just as well as these two!

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  29. I thought both performances were very impressive. It was clear that Sarah knew what she was saying, and committed to the role. She was magnetic. However both her sonnet and her monologue seemed contrary, so maybe she should have shown a little more range. Hale showed more range, and his monologue as Mercutio was absolutely hilarious. I found it interesting he had a British accent on his first monologue, and more of an Irish one on his second. However, his sonnet fell a little flat to me. Honestly, if I were judging them, I wouldn't know which actor was better, which is the mark of a great performer.

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  30. All I can say is wow; both of them very captivating! They both brought so much talent to each performance. I can honestly admit that even if some do not like shakespeare, they have to give credit to these two individuals. They did an amazing job. I noticed, which was obviously what set her apart, but Sarah stepped into the character as if it were her own self even with the cold reading and each performance she poured herself into it. She acted the same even through each performance, which is quite incredible considering that she had less and less time to practice each as the competition went on. On the other hand, Hale's performance was quite amazing, and way better than I could do, but it was almost obvious that his confidence and acting changed with each performance. However he did a great job at even changing his voice to match different characters. I can't wait to see one of our scholars win in New York!

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  31. It’s incredible how skilled they are. How they can memorize something without a problem - I don’t even remember what I ate for lunch yesterday. It’s fascinating to see them perform because they are so passionate and full of emotions. I always get chills when I see very spirited performances. Because I know that they love what they do. They make it look so unbelievable easy. Especially the cold reads. Yes, they have the sheet right in front of them, but they have to quickly put emotion into what they are saying. Spalding and Stewart are very talented. And I know for sure that our school is too. It would be amazing to see one of our scholars/peers get to do what they love in front of much more people and for something they are passionate about.

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  32. When I was watching these videos the only thought I had was, " Wow, these kids are talented!" I couldn't even imagine doing that myself, but I am glad for our Odyssey scholars that will hopefully represent our school, sate, and country. One thing is for sure, their passion for acting will get them far in life. Sarah Spalding's performance was really intense with anger, for the most part, and her voice was always loud and really confident, and I liked that about her acting. Hale Stewart's performance was comedic and full of emotion, and what I liked about his acting was the personality he gave Mercutio. I really hope our school gets ahead in this competition, I support you guys all the way!

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  33. All I kept saying was "Holy cow!" I cannot believe how crazy talented these kids are and they are the same age as I am! I thoroughly enjoyed Hale's performance because he had a little bit of humor behind his memorized sonnet and he acted it out a tad as well. I do not think I have the ability to get up in front of people like that and have them judge me based on how I perform. I was extremely surprised how quick it went by, maybe I would be able to do it, but I get a little antsy some times.

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  34. I really enjoyed watching these performances. In each of the performances the actors are very into their performances. They each really get into their roles with not only their speaking but also with their physical expressions. I enjoyed watching their expressions (especially Sarah's) and listening to them speak. When each of them talked they made sure to enunciate. They were very clear, loud speakers and that made them very easy to listen to. I'm very excited that our school is able to be a part of something so huge! After watching them perform Macbeth I'm sure they'll all do amazing!

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  35. If there was ever a definition of the Perfect Theatre Kid, these two would be it. They were both very convincing and dedicated to their role. The girl seems very serious in her monologue, so much so that it seems like she was angry at someone in the audience. None the less, they were both every convincing. They always appeared to be in character and emotionally charged. Why I think the guy didn't win first place over the girl is because of his sonnet, which was a little flat compared to the emotion of the girl. It would take a lot of commitment to play these roles, and these two are very fine at their roles.

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  36. These two individuals were amazing with their performances. They seemed so calm, when they were in front of the audience. I personally would not be able to remain so calm in front of that many people. What makes it even more astonishing is with their cold call. They barely got to see that piece, let alone practice with it, and they were able to act it out like they've seen it for years. I like how they used a lot of hand motions to emphasize certain parts of the monologue. It really portrayed the emotion in it well. I also wonder how far these two got, and if one of them won the whole competition. These two are great with their roles, and played them perfectly.

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  38. These are amazing!! I’ve never actually preformed on a stage, I do become a little jittery while in front of an audience and it was so amazing how well they both said their lines. They came out strong and it takes a lot I could only image. I loved the emotion and the feeling they put into their acts as well, was so amazed by each I couldn’t stop watching. I loved also how they used their body langue, it was also very strong just like how they said their words. I have always wished I was that good at speaking in front of audiences like they were, i was just simply amazed.

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  39. I think that I couldn't even come close to how well these kids perform. Reading Shakespeare is honestly like another language to me and it's amazing that they speak it as if it's an everyday language to them. When they are doing these, it's like they turn into a completely different person, but it is not like conventional acting you see in movies. It is a more passionate and dramatic acting, so it's a completely different style that you don't see very often, but you can just tell it is extremely good by the way it is acted out. It would take serious talent to do this stuff and you really have to give these kids credit for the job that they did.

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  40. I don't even know what to say. Those kids were absolutely phenomenal. I have absolutely no clue how they can do that. How they can have such confidence in front of so many people and judges. My favorite was the girl from Hawaii. Her facial expressions and the way she manipulated her voice to express different emotions is what really stood out. Watching this made me realize that our theater kids at Odyssey are just as good if not better than these people. I think we definitely have a great chance of winning. This is not something I would be able to do, but I wish I was talented enough to be able to do it.

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  41. I am so amazed by how both Sarah and Hale performed their pieces. It amazed me how they quickly went from one character to another and how they could change their emotions so quickly. Their confidence is absolutely amazing, I wish i had to courage to do what they did. I could never stand in front of that many people and do what they did it was phenomenal. Sarah and Hale maybe be people who will inspire others to keep trying. These people made me remember about the competition our school is having and i think that the person that ends up being the one who will represent our school might have a big chance of getting far.

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  42. I loved Sarah Spalding's performance it was so amazing! Her acting was very intriguing and captured my attention with no dull moment. The face expressions that she showed were really good as well and I could tell the emotion of each scene she performed. In Hale Stewart's first reading his emphasis was very forward and I could easily read that this scene was out of anger and in a way wishful revenge towards someone. His performance of Mercutio, Romeo and Juliette made me laugh because of how he showed that Mercutio was being witty and funny in what he was saying and not serious by using gestures with what he was saying. I also think it’s amazing how they can go in front of a crowd, by themselves, is brave. I perform with the cheer team but I know that I couldn’t do a performance alone so I think it's really cool that they have the courage to go up in front of people and do that. It’s like when they are up there they are just telling a story to a friend not a crowd.

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  43. Now, I don't care for Shakespeare, but I can respect those do; especially those who can recite his work, and act it quite well. I will never understand how they can do it. I couldn't even recite one short monologue in your class last year, it was impossible. These performances were quite commendable. And simply, any accurate display of Shakespeare's work can be quite great, because... Seriously, have you tried saying those words? It physically hurts me. I don't know. I don't know.

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  44. Both of those were suuuper awesome. The girl definitely deserved the win, her talent just radiated through her. i'd love to be able to do something like that. i'm sure I could if I had more practice with acting, but sadly I don't. They had all of their things down and even the cold reads were astounding. Crazy how kids that young have such talent. i'm sure it isn't just raw talent, you need some serious practice and memory skills for that type of stuff.

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  45. The way they perform gives the impression that they understand thoroughly the pieces that they read and how the words should flow. I find myself very mixed up when I speak Shakespeare’s works but these kids though understood how to say the words and how they were meant to be played out with pronunciation and emphasis. They had the knowledge of emotional tone the words were meant to be read with. I have no interest in these sort of competitions myself but I can appreciate the work that goes into it and the understanding.

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  46. I get so lost in performances; I absolutely adore watching people act. The moment I can lose myself when I act is the moment I’ll finally be good. Watching them perform gave me a whole new excitement about this contest. Acting is a beautiful art form. They were both very composed and you could tell they had run through their performances many times. I liked the girl’s last performance the best, and even though the boy’s last performance was incredible, I think I was partial to his sonnet. They made me believe them, which is why they were good. Like I mentioned, I’m much more excited about this competition now. Thank you for showing us these!

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  47. There is only one way I could describe this and it would be just pure beauty. It honestly astonishes me how they are able to memorize their sonnets and perform with such passion. I wish I had the confidence to be able perform like them without forgetting what my purpose was. I loved how they were able to grasp everyone's full attention with just memorizing the minutes before. They were truly amazing.

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  48. Holy cow! It was like they left the real world and entered the actual setting and stories of their excerpts! There is no way I could do that! While I was watching Sarah Spalding, I was thinking, how on earth is she focused on remembering her lines and perfectly executing the tone, hand movements and facial expressions of her part? Not to mention, dealing with nerves. Speaking of tone, I really am bad at understanding Shakespeare. So I had no idea what the sonnets were about but I got a basic idea through the tone of the actors. I specifically noticed that Sarah was really good at being sarcastic and angry. It reminded me of when we talked about tone, register and style. You can take a lot away from a conversation without comprehending what's being said.

    I would have to say my favorite part between both videos was Hale Stewart's last reading of Mercutio. He was so into it and I liked the way he used his fingers to add a sort of comical effect. I really enjoyed both actors though.

    Thanks for sharing! I wonder why we find so much enjoyment in watching people pretend to be who they are not.

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  49. It is honestly so amazing how Sarah and Hale can go up onto a stage and take over the piece of text that they are reading. Going in front of a panel of judges and being critiqued would honestly make me nervous and I do not have a great talent of memorizing lines sadly. I was really amazed by Sarah's interpretation of Leontes and Rosalind. I honestly felt like the change and inflections in her tone made me feel like she was Leontes, and that he ( I am assuming that it is a he) was just another character from a piece of text but an actual person. It seems like they both know the Shakespearean language very well. I honestly am not a fan of Shakespeare , but I am very fond of others performing his plays.

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  50. These performances were as impressive watching them this time as they were the first time I saw them, when you shared them with the cast of Macbeth. Both performances stand as a testament to the capability of young actors to master Shakespearean language, instead of withdrawing from it in fear and leaving it to older actors. I wasn't familiar with all of the material they were working with, but in the cases I did know, it was clear that the actors understood the meaning of the words and the context they were spoken in.

    As an actor, I noticed that both of them matched dramatic physical motion to several of their lines. This is one of the best choices an actor can make when preparing a monologue. Seeing motion connected to the words increases the strength of the performance when viewed from the audience, and makes the meaning of the words much more clear. As an additional benefit, connecting motions with words aids in the memorization of the monologue itself, as more of the mind and body are engaged with each sentence. The combined effect is one of ownership over a monologue, instead of mere recital. An actor's role is not to speak someone else's words, but rather to assume the personality of the speaker. This means that there should be a range of emotion and emphasis put on each word just as would happen in a spontaneous conversation.

    Both of these actors did an excellent job, and I'm pleased to have their examples to consider as I continue to refine my own acting abilities. Thank you for sharing these examples with us, Mrs. Caraway!

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  51. It's very clear just how much time and effort went into the preparation of these actors. Even in the cold reading, it's obvious that they used their limited prep time to the fullest. Both had such incredible presence on the stage. I particularly thought the first actor had the most confidence, however both were still very strong in their performances. It's hard to understand just how it would feel to perform on that stage before hundreds. Even though I probably won't ever experience it, I can imagine it would be a terrific honor.

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  52. That would be pretty interesting to watch in person. Its amazing how they can look at a monologue for a quick minute and be able to figure out the context and how they are going to go about saying the monologue. It wasn't just someone reading a monologue it was like they were in a play acting. At first I didnt think this would be too hard but watching all they put into it like their facial expressions, this would be really challenging to do.

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  53. Both these actors did amazing jobs on their performances. But what really impressed me was when Hale was doing his performance on Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet. In my opinion, listening to the big voices of the actors being so serious in their roles can make a play drag on and seem less interesting. Hale must have agreed with me because it seemed like he tried to make his part as funny and entertaining as possible! The great thing about competitions like these is you get to see different peoples' interpretations of texts. Different interpretations make for different ways to present a text with things such as body language and tone, which the two actors seemed to control very well.

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  54. Oh my lanta! I loved watching this so much! I found it so interesting and really wish I was talented enough to do something like this! I would love to watch something like this in person, im sure it brings many emotions out of the crowd and participants as well. I find it so amazing how actors can look at a script for a minute or two and make an emotional performance with something they just looked at! I mix up words and stutter when reading Shakespeare and these people read it like its liquid gold to their ears. I am completely amazed and in awe of both of their preferences.

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  55. It was amazing watching both of the actors, and just thinking about how much time they had spent to memorize not only their monologues, but also the emotions they were supposed to convey. I thought that the cold reads were the best parts of each video, because of how much force and confidence they had, especially for only looking at the speeches for such a short amount of time

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  56. It takes a lot of guts to stand on that stage and deliver those monologues and sonnets so beautifully. I thought you just had to read it off the page. The emotion and amount of enthusiasm is just amazing. I really liked the cold reads, because they have such a short time to deliver, and they do a great job. I stutter my words all the time! There is no way that I could do something like that. It would be nice to see what people from our school could do with Shakespearean literature like that when the contest comes around.

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  57. To see some of our own actors go up there and present their skill would be interesting. The feeling of being able to compete with others with the same interest would no doubt inspire some amazing responses that would cause some very interesting performances. All in all Great performances and i congratulate these two highly skilled actors

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  58. It takes a tremendous amount of talent to be able to do what these actors just did. Not only did they get on stage and perform in from of multiple people, but they performed a piece of text that they just received. When people hear the word Shakespeare, most try to push it away because it's not interesting and hard to understand. But when these actors were performing it, it's hard to look away. They read with such enthusiasm and you hang on to every word they're saying. Even if someone has no idea what they're talking about, you still want to keep watching. Personally, I could never do this in a million years. I think each and every one of the theater kids, or anyone else who is interested in Shakespeare, should apply for this. Not only is it a great opportunity, but you get the chance to go to New York and LONDON.

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  59. First off, I must say: WOW!
    These teens have a lot of talent, and I can tell they've really worked hard. Their performances, even their cold reads, held so much emotion, movement, and expression that they really brought Shakespeare's words to life. As a person who makes up for her creativity with difficulty in expression, I respect and admire their performances all the more. I just love seeing people do things like this and use themselves as a conduit for creative expression, to bring the creator's ideas to life for the whole world to see with their own little twist. I think it's great that teens are getting a chance to pursue their dreams on the stage, and to spread the beauty of Shakespeare. Even after he's long gone, it's amazing how the Great Bard touches us in the daily, academic, and whimsical parts of our lives.

    "Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em"
    ~William Shakespeare

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  60. Okay I had no idea Shakespeare could be so mesmerizing. I was thinking of trying out for the Shakespeare thing but I feel like I would never make it with people like these performing. Like doing a cold read is hard when its just with your class but in front of judges who are seeing if you make it to London to go study the great works of Shakespeare, oh gosh I would have an anxiety attack.

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  61. I am so excited that our school has such an amazing opportunity. I think that everyone should participate because it would be a great experience and an honor to say that someone from our school won this thing. The other participants and winners are absolutely amazing and you can tell they put a lot of hard work and dedication into it.

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  62. I loved both of the performances. The cold reads were outstanding! I can only with to the the chameleon ability to mold my personality so well! I noticed how physical Sarah was and it made her performance easier to understand as I could read her body language. I noticed that she had a very specific and unique tone when presenting; I think it helped the audience better understand her due to the fact that her low range traveled farther and clearer.

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  63. Sarah Spalding was absolutely amazing! Hale was also really good, I loved him as Mercutio! It takes a lot of guts to go up there and fluently present monologues in front of tons of people. They're very talented people and I wish I could memorize 20 lines like that. The emotion they showed was flawless and they definitely deserve to be recognized by everyone.

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  64. Both of these performances were outstanding. I personally don't find much interest in theater or performing arts but I do see the opportunity in this kind of competition. Each performance was very precise and expressed a broad range of emotion and feeling that only an actor can convey giving this a lot more depth and perspective that the text alone can convey. Reading/acting these sonnets in this specific manner makes them so much more interesting and gives the audience a better sense of the tone. Everything's more exaggerated and very easy to grasp. This competition looks like a fantastic opportunity for anyone to gain a better understanding of the topic and be able to see other performances based on the same Shakespeare make up. Overall, both were noticeably well planned and thought out and were done very well.

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  65. I have no idea how the were able to remember those. Listening to Shakespeare by people who can actually speak it is so beautiful. I wish I could do that. You can tell that they have so much passion when they speak. Personally I thought Sarah's performance was better. She was so into it, her facial expressions, everything was so captivating. People like them are who make me enjoy Shakespeare, even when I have no clue what anything means.

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  66. I was actually surprised that there are actually certain people out there in the world who are that talented. Just to have the guts to do a cold read or just any kind of performance in front of a audience. I was impressed how she put so much emotion, expression, and how she made it seem so effortless! Definitely, changed my point of view of how I see the theater kids and how much effort they put forth.

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  67. I was actually surprised that there are actually certain people out there in the world who are that talented. Just to have the guts to do a cold read or just any kind of performance in front of a audience. I was impressed how she put so much emotion, expression, and how she made it seem so effortless! Definitely, changed my point of view of how I see the theater kids and how much effort they put forth.

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