154th Declamation Contest


Emmy Xu ’22 performs her Declamation Contest monologue.

Leena Mirchandani '25, Staff Writer

On January 7, 2022, the lights went up in the William Mount-Burke ’54 Theatre for the finals of the 154th Declamation Contest, an annual Peddie monologue competition.

To become involved in the Declamation Contest, students must choose a monologue under the guidance of Director of Theater Ms. Sherman, practice their monologue, and present their pieces in the semifinals. Finalists are then chosen out of the semifinalists to participate in the final competition in front of the entire school. 

The winners of the 154th Declamation Speaking Contest are Emmy Xu ’22 (first place), Kate Guitarri ’22 (second place), Caleb Solidum ’23 (third place), and Santiago Galvan ’22 (honorable mention). 

Caleb Solidum ’23 said, “The Declamation Contest is a great way to explore acting in your own way. Working alongside Ms. Sherman, you get to decide what’s best for your character. Performing and getting up on stage is an important tool for the real world. I would say that everyone should try the Declamation Contest or some art class at Peddie!” 

This year, there was a combination of in-person and remote performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because tradition gives the community a sense of normalcy, maintaining this staple Peddie tradition is essential during the pandemic. In a world where there is constant unpredictability, traditions like these can bring communities together. 

In a conversation with Ms. Sherman, director of The Declamation Speaking Contest, she shared that the contest is almost as old as Peddie. It started off as a declarative, public speaking forum, but over time shifted to a monologue festival. This competition is adjudicated for a competitive spirit. Ms. Sherman said, “It’s [The Declamation Speaking Contest] the marriage between tradition and the most current aspects of being in this school.” 

This competition bridges the gap of time and brings works from different eras together in appreciation of theater. This year, there were performances from playwrights ranging from William Shakespeare to Kenneth Lonergan. Comedies, tragedies, historical dramas, and modern monologues were delineated on the stage of the William Mount-Burke ’54 Theatre. Even though there are many differences between these monologues, there is one commonality — the performer’s connection to their art. The Declamation Speaking Contest is a great opportunity for theater newcomers and veterans to have their moment in the spotlight. Especially during the pandemic, the arts are an important outlet for creative expression. Theater can connect the performer to other artists, playwrights, their characters, and the audience.