Every March, Bedford hosts its very own Festival of Speech and Drama. It is a showcase for the wealth of talent in the amateur performing arts in Bedfordshire. Just as the arts are an intrinsic part of life at Bedford Girls’ School, the festival is at the heart of the local community and pupils from schools across the county compete in a range of classes. There are categories for most musical genres including classical, jazz, rock and Asian music as well as many varied speech and drama classes including verse speaking, acting, mime and improvisation.
Every year Bedford Girls’ School is well represented in most of the classes and I have to say, proudly, we consistently achieve outstanding results, with girls often taking first, second and third place within a category. The girls thrive on the experience of performing in front of appreciative audiences and the value of the feedback they receive from very experienced judges cannot be underestimated. However, whilst the competitive element and joy of winning is clearly important to the girls they also appreciate the opportunity to listen to others perform. They are extremely supportive of one another and really benefit from the enrichment of collaborating in a celebration of the arts within the community of which they and the school are so proud to be a part of.
On Saturday night I was privileged to watch the Gala Performance which brings together the top performers in the different classes. Our school had entrants in all of the classes and the competition was fierce. Each performance was exceptional, and reflected the hard work and discipline the girls have applied, some over many years, to get to this level of performance. We were delighted to win two categories, with Head Girl, Lucy Charatan named Outstanding Pianist of the Festival and a duologue of Franky Lynn and Jaspreet Sohal winning Outstanding Junior Speech and Drama Performance.
I, like many parents, watched proudly and wondered whether I was watching the next Alison Balsom or Helen McCrory, and, above all, I reflected with great pride on how wonderfully the girls conducted themselves and how much they brought to the people of Bedford with the beauty of their performances.