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Having stolen the show at the Regional Final, Amelia (UIV - Year 9) was excited to attend the Grand Final of the English-Speaking Union’s Performing Shakespeare competition at The Globe on Friday 24th June.

With the event being live-streamed to the ESU’s 54 international member countries, Amelia delivered her mature and personal interpretation of Juliet’s soliloquy from Act 4 Scene iii. Here, Juliet battles with her doubts over taking the vial of potion that will sink her into a deathlike sleep. She wanted to portray Juliet from a more feminist perspective, with the strength of character that Amelia would draw upon in making a challenging decision of her own.

Amelia was presented with her finalist’s medal (pictured) by Jane Easton, the ESU’s Director General. During the day, the finalists enjoyed collaborating in a workshop led by Nicolette Morgan of Aunty Jen Productions, a Stratford-based theatre group. ‘Aunty Jen’ herself, Jennifer Rigby, was our excellent compère for the competition.

The judges included John Pfumojena, whose powerful and entertaining feedback made a lasting impression on all present, and Benet Brandreth QC, a former World Public Speaking Champion. The chair of judges was Jacqui O’Hanlon MBE, the Director of Learning and National Partnerships at the Royal Shakespeare Company - it was said that the judges had ‘drawn swords and shields’ in arriving at the very difficult decision of selecting an overall winner!

Jacqui O’Hanlon’s feedback commended Amelia’s ‘incredibly strong’ and ‘refreshing’ performance, ‘…really drawing the audience in at key points in the speech.’ Meanwhile, Benet Brandreth reflected: ‘Amelia presented us with a case of timeless Shakespeare using the conflicts of human emotions with a feminist approach… She gives Juliet self-esteem and control.’

Earlier in the day, teachers and finalists were treated to a tour of The Globe, where we witnessed rehearsals for the current production of Henry VIII, and also of The Sam Wanamaker Theatre, where Amelia was able to tread the boards on the stage of the replica Elizabethan Playhouse (pictured).

We in the English Department are very much looking forward to entering next year’s Fourth Form into this competition, as well as working alongside our colleagues in History & Politics to further support the development of our pupils’ oracy. We thank Amelia’s family and Mrs Carolyn Rigby, Drama, for their support, and wish Amelia every success for the future.

If you would like to discover more about the work of the ESU, including becoming a Young Member or participating in the Debate Academy summer school, please visit

Miss Julie Grant, Second in English