Congratulations to Nathan Alleyne '18, who has been named the winner of Asheville School's annual Shakespeare Recitation competition, a school tradition that now goes back more than 30 years.
David Zheng '18 and Elizabeth Thomas '17 were named second and third place in the competition respectively.
Every Asheville School student memorizes at least 20 lines from a Shakespeare play and recites them in their humanities class. Top students advance to a second round, where they recite their lines for a group of Asheville School humanities instructors. The instructors identify eight to 12 finalists who move on to the final round, where they recite their lines for the entire Asheville School community.
A panel of judges names the top three recitations for the year. For 2017, the panel was comprised of Jason Williams, James Pharr '97, and Darren Marshall.
Jason Williams serves as board chair of Montford Park Players, an Asheville organization that puts on Shakespeare and other classic plays. Williams also serves as a director for the Montford Park Players. James Pharr '97 is a current humanities instructor at Asheville School who made it to the finalist round of the Shakespeare Recitation competition in all four years as an Asheville School student. The panel was rounded out by actor Darren Marshall, who has worked with several companies in Asheville.
The works of Shakespeare are woven throughout students' education at Asheville School. Each grade level studies a different play in their humanities class, every year students watch a play performed by a professional troupe, and every other year Asheville School Drama performs a Shakespeare play for the school community.
This means that four-year Asheville School students study and watch 10 Shakespeare plays during their high school careers. Humanities Chair John Gregory says this focus "is a unique and distinct thing about Asheville School."
Gregory says that this competition is a favorite because it is a community-wide experience that gives students a chance to shine. "A kid who you think is quiet surprises you," he said. "They come out with all this emotion. It's a neat opportunity to have every kid on campus reciting Shakespeare."
James Pharr says that he feels lucky he gets to continue participating in this tradition. "I love that every student takes a risk by reciting lines in front of their classmates," he said.
"As a member of the audience and as a judge, I'm always impressed by the talent on stage and by how supportive the rest of the student body can be. I love to hear them cheer for their peers when they nail a recitation."
You can see a playlist of this year's recitations here.