The Catholic University of America

Feb. 5, 2008

Three CUA Students Take Prizes in Annual Hartke Declamation Contest

First place winner: Katie Molinaro
Second place: Kyle Gullings
Third place: Elizabeth France
Three Catholic University students - two in drama and one in music - won prizes Feb. 4 at the Third Annual Hartke Declamation Contest, with artful readings performed from memory on the theme of "Sports and Leisure" before an audience of about 50 people at Callan Theatre.

The first-place winner, Katie Molinaro, an undergraduate drama major from Oakton, Va., won $1,000 for her declamations of the poem "Fishing on the Susquehanna in July" by Billy Collins and the speech "Eulogy to Mickey Mantle" by sports commentator Bob Costas.

Second-place winner Kyle Gullings, a doctoral student in music composition from Mitchell, S.D., won $300 for his performances of a Dec. 24, 2007, Sports Illustrated article written by his cousin, Brandon Day, and the humorous how-to article "Taming the Bicycle" by Mark Twain.

Third-place winner Elizabeth France, an M.F.A. candidate in acting from Russellville, Ark., won $200 for her renditions of the Pablo Neruda poem "Ode to Wine" and Norman Mailer's literary reportage "The Fight," about the 1974 Muhammad Ali-George Foreman boxing match.

Four other students also gave presentations at the contest, which is open to all CUA students and held in memory of Rev. Gilbert V. Hartke, O.P., who founded CUA's Department of Drama in 1937. The annual competition is the brainchild of professional actor and CUA alumnus Jack Knight, class of 1964, who donated the prize money. Knight won a similar declamation award while he was a student and he says it helped inspire him to take up a career as a television, film and stage actor.

The contestants were judged on elements of diction, elocution, presence and presentation. The contest judges included Melissa Flaim, a lecturer in voice and speech in the drama department; Glen Johnson, associate dean of undergraduate programs; and Halo Wines, who earned her master's degree in drama from CUA in 1964 and whom The Washington Post has called "one of the quintessential Washington actors."

L.R. Poos, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, said he thought the contest "gets a little bit better and a little bit bigger each year."

While waiting for the judges' announcement of the winners, Knight entertained the audience with reminiscences of Father Hartke and his own rendition of several pieces, including a poem about Abraham Lincoln.

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