The Many Faces of Recitations

by Liam Maclure, Grade 10

Video of recitations by Leo Marchand, Mary Lapp, Kelly Twa and Tom Zheng.

My heart is pounding. I have to remind myself that I love my piece in order to calm myself. The seat to my right is empty. In a few seconds I will stand and speak. She sits. Three deep breaths. As I introduce my recitation, the anxiety starts to fade. As I say the first words, all things are forgotten and passion starts to flow. The crowd is silenced, and I tell my story. My memory is solid, not hesitating between stanzas, and too involved in my character to even think about the possibility of forgetting. I finish to the applause of an enthusiastic crowd. I sit down, immediately wishing I could go again, loving the thrill and all the audience’s attention. I watch as the next performer introduces himself, and goes through the same emotions that I just did two minutes ago. His performance appears flawless, and he sits down, smiling at his performance.

This solution of anxiety, excitement and enthusiasm created an evening of spoken word that was truly exceptional.

I chose my piece, “On Human Potential” by Brendan McLeod, because I was passionate about the topic. It was a message against homophobia, done in a brilliant way, involving humor. After I had memorized it, I was able to give all my effort to involve the audience through actions and dynamics. It seemed as though everybody else also really enjoyed sharing their recitation. I was only able to stay for half the evening, but I thoroughly enjoyed those who I saw perform. Jeremy Fairley did a hilarious poem by Shel Silverstein, which could be interpreted as just a light and funny story about two old generals, but I thought there was an underlying message against war. Colin Hawes defined the Canadian cliché “eh?” in his monologue, to which the audience roared with laughter. These are just two examples of how amusing the evening was.

Recitation night was a very enjoyable experience, from both an audience member’s and a performer’s perspective. Mr. Young’s introduction was clever and funny, which set a relaxed mood, allowing performers like me to become less nervous. Everyone was supportive, and really watched in awe as students preformed their work of art; spoken word. Each student had a different impact on the audience. Sometimes the audience laughed, at other times was silent, other times scared, but always listening, anticipating the next words. I look forward to at least attending next year’s recitation evening and experiencing more spoken word.

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