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What a fantastic festival!

What a fantastic festival!

This year’s Taunton Festival of The Arts featured an extremely high standard from the 600 plus competitors as usual. Once again, we were very well represented by the huge number of students that take Speech and Drama in the Pre-Prep, Prep and Senior School.

This year’s Festival which ran from Sunday 5th March through to Friday 10th March, began with the Taunton Young Performer Competition. This always attracts the very best students from the County and this year the standard was higher than ever. Students have to perform a themed recital of acting and verse pieces linked with explanations and introductions. In the Junior category Matilda Clarke, Charlotte Taysom and Rosie Taysom all performed brilliantly and were only just pipped to the post by the eventual winner. The senior category was won by TS student Cassie grace, what a great way to get the Festival started.

Day two saw TPS have another set of results. We had some really entertaining and confident performances from our Year 3 and 4 poets, readers and actors. Pictured are Aryan Sharma, Jacob Huntley and James Wilson who gained 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in prepared reading. Aryan also picked up another medal with his 2nd place in the solo acting. A good day's work!

The fun at the Festival continued on the Wednesday with some more fantastic performances and results from our young performers! Special mention today to our incredible Year 2 students performing 'All Work' and our Year 3 students with 'Festival Fiasco', both groups performing with confidence and style to gain joint 1st place in the Year 3 and under Group Speaking (picture on front page). We also had Cassie Grace winning Year 10/11 Sight Reading and Prepared Reading classes and gaining 2nd place in the Year10/11 Solo Acting. Adi Sharma came 2nd and Sophia Wilson and Max Davis 3rd in the Year 7-9 Sight Reading. Flora Collier came 2nd in the Year 9 Verse Speaking and Oliver Tucker and Robbie Burns won the Year 8/9 Duo Verse Speaking. Sophia Wilson gained another medal with 1st place in the Performance Poetry and Tom Yap, Barnaby Webber and Archie Billings won Year 9 Group Speaking. Our last class today was the challenging TV Newsreading Class for Year 9 which was won by Ben Pomeroy. A truly excellent set of results, not forgetting all those other competitors who performed so well in their classes. You all made your teachers, parents and school very proud. Well done!

Thursday was a really busy day at the Festival with over 8 solid hours of classes. Huge congratulations to Millie and Emily, and Jack and Archie who won 1st and 3rd place in the Year 5 and Under Duo Verse Speaking. This was followed by TPS winning the Group Speaking with Book of Shadows and receiving Joint 2nd with Horrible Headmonster and History Test. Our actors in Year 5 won 1st and 3rd place with Wind In The Willows and Cafe Rhyme. We also won 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Group Acting with Bullies, New Shoes and Grounded. Ailani came 3rd in the prepared Reading for Year 7 and under and we finished the day with a 1st place in the Duo Improvisation from Maddy Marsh and Annabelle Mellenchip. Despite all these fantastic results the highlight for me was seeing those children who were not placed but conquered their fears and performed brilliantly to a really appreciative audience. The knowledge that you 'can do it' will stay with you and me for a very long time. Well done! We are very proud of every competitor who had the courage to stand up and take part. A great day.

The Festival week finished as it started, with more great performances and results from our students. Congratulations to George, Josh and Orlando for 2nd place in the Year 7 Group Speaking. Also to Esme, Ranuga and Sophie for coming 1st and joint 2nd in the Year 8 Verse Speaking. Sophie also won the Year 8 Prepared Reading closely followed by Leila who came 2nd. Daisy Downham came 2nd in the Year8/9 Solo Acting and we had some great results in the Year 8/9 Duo Acting with Calum and Max coming 1st and Charlotte and Rosie and Adi and Ben coming Joint 3rd. TPS also won the group acting and Upper Sixth IB student, Agnese Sartor came 3rd in the Shakespeare Sixth Form class. The Festival was rounded off with Mr Kirby and Mr Riggs performing in the Open Duo Class, luckily they received an Outstanding adjudication!

For the Speech and Drama teachers, Festivals are not about medals and cups, although we all love a bit of silver! They are about giving all our students the opportunity to show the work they have been doing to an appreciative audience. We are sometimes surprised by adjudications (sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not) but we are always bowled over by the tenacity, determination and aplomb shown by our students. 1st or last in the order, every single one of you is a winner in our eyes. Well done and a huge thank you to the friends and parents who have supported and transported our children this week. See you at the next one.

Darren Riggs