Speech and Drama Musing

Friday 27 April 2018

At the moment I am preparing to adjudicate at the 69th Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival, along with 23 other colleagues from the UK, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa and Australia.  This will be my last festival of 2017, having adjudicated at various Speech and Drama Festivals in the UK, Ireland and Sri Lanka during the year.  This will be my 12th visit to the Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival and a visit that I am very much looking forward to.

Speech and Drama Festivals are amazing events.  They are special to the performers, the organisers and yes, special too to the travel-weary adjudicator who will sit and hear many poems repeated, over, and over again!

Speech Festivals are special to the performers because they are an opportunity to perform in public for an audience.  To test oneself on technique, artistry and above all confidence and ability in communication skills. Speech Festivals afford performers and teachers the opportunity to engage in various performance skills, observe other performers undertaking the same task and to hear constructive advice from the adjudicator.

Speech Festivals are special to the organising group or company because they see the opportunity festivals offer participants and teachers, who both learn, grow and develop in all aspects of performance at such events.

Speech Festivals are special to the adjudicator because it is an opportunity to engage with both teachers and performers; to help and support them in their studies and to share with them, in a clear and constructive manner, advice and suggestions on the work presented.

As an adjudicator I have the opportunity to visit various events in many different locations.  But, while each event is unique and distinct, they too have many things in common. There is the enthusiasm and excitement of the participants, the tension and worry of both parents and teachers, the wish by the organisers to have a happy and successful festival.

Speech and Drama is unique among the performance disciplines in that most people who participate in the subject are not solely interested in performance but also have other skills that they wish to learn and develop.  For most of the overseas festivals, in countries where English is not the first language, Speech Festivals are an opportunity for the performers and teachers to improve linguistic ability; to learn communication skills and to develop confidence in presentation and performance.  Yes, some of our participants will go on to become performers or performance teachers, but most will benefit from the experience of participation and the personal challenge they had to face by standing up to speak a poem or perform a piece of drama.

Speech and Drama is a subject open to all.  To participate in Music or Dance a performer must have some competence and training in the technical dynamics of an instrument or particular genre of dance.  But Speech and Drama is open to everyone regardless of ability or previous experience. You just get up, speak, and perform!

Visit www.federationoffestivals.org.uk to find out more about the Federation and locate your nearest festival. Follow us on social media for festival news: @FestivalsHouse  www.facebook.com/MusicDanceSpeech

Image Credit: Thomas Cheetham