To die for: Vihaan impresses with his “tender, powerful” Romeo speech as QE hosts Performing Shakespeare competition

To die for: Vihaan impresses with his “tender, powerful” Romeo speech as QE hosts Performing Shakespeare competition

Having won QE’s internal round of the national Performing Shakespeare competition and made it through the London heats, Year 8’s Vihaan Pal then performed strongly in the regional final held at the School.

Vihaan, pictured here and  top, delivered the speech from Romeo and Juliet given by Romeo as he lay dying – giving a repeat of his performance in School, which was praised for its maturity and sensitivity.

The regional heats and final were both hosted by QE, in the Main School Hall and Friends’ Recital Hall respectively. Two boys had reached the semi-finals, Vihaan and Daiwik Khedekar, with Vihaan progressing to the regional final.

Head of English Robert Hyland said: “Performing Shakespeare is integral to student understanding: as we remind the boys, Shakespeare’s plays were written not to be studied in class, but performed in theatres. Learning and performing a speech requires students to make judgements about what a character is saying, and how this will affect things like their movement, their vocal tone, and their interaction with the audience, in a way which analysing in an essay is not able to.

“We were therefore delighted to host two rounds of the competition. Although Vihaan did not progress through the regional final, he did very well to make it through the semi-finals and is to be congratulated on a series of accomplished performances.

“At QE, we recognise the importance of oracy and the ability to perform in front of others as important skills that will help our boys in their later lives and careers. That is why the School has invested heavily in the new Robert Dudley Studio for drama and the spoken word, which is now nearing completion.”

All Year 8s were invited to take part in the internal round of the competition and could choose any speech from a Shakespeare play. They initially learned their speeches during the Autumn Term (alongside their studies of Macbeth).

The boys were judged not only on their physical performance and their vocalisation, but on how far their performance suited the speech, and how far their interpretation of the speech met their artistic intention.

Vihaan said: “The reason I chose my piece [Romeo’s Dying Scene from Act 5 Scene 3] is because I found it inspiring that the message is so simple, clear in its affirmation of the power of love over hate, and showing the strong loyalty Romeo had for Juliet. Although it is different from the classic booming speech with loud expressions, I felt that the acting of this piece with the sad tone, the detailed imagery, and the soft movements made me feel like I was really there.”

Their classroom teachers judged the QE boys’ initial attempts, while the judges in the School final were Kanak Shah, Extra-curricular Enrichment Lead and an English & French teacher, Head of Year 8 Andrew Collins, and Sixth Form actor Keiaron Joseph.

Ms Shah praised the work that the QE boys put into their performances. “I was amazed by the vulnerability of some of these speeches and the maturity and sensitivity with which they were delivered. These qualities were particularly obvious in the speech of our winner Vihaan, who chose Romeo’s last speech to Juliet. He conjured Juliet’s body out of thin air with his delivery of Shakespeare’s words, and his choice of a vulnerable speech was a brave one.”

Dr Collins said that the boys had shown the full range of emotions when they took to the stage, “from rallying battle cries to internal moments of anguish”. He added: “It was extremely difficult to come up with a winner; Vihaan’s portrayal of Romeo was very tender and he showed great power on the stage even when in such a compact physical form on the floor  – a very worthy winner.”