The Catholic University of America

Feb. 12, 2010

Hartke Contest Offers Eloquent Students $1,000 Prize

Students who enjoy public speaking are invited to vie for the fifth annual Hartke Declamation Prize on Monday, March 22, which this year requires dramatic presentations of readings related to science and/or philosophy.

Open to all CUA students — graduate or undergraduate, full- or part-time, degree- or non-degree-seeking — the contest will award a $1,000 first prize, $300 second prize and $200 third prize. The deadline to enter the competition is Monday, Feb. 22.

Contestants will speak from memory two readings — each 2-5 minutes long — before the contest audience in CUA’s Callan Theatre at 5 p.m.

“We chose the science and philosophy theme to continue discussing the issues that arose in In Good King Charles's Golden Days, a George Bernard Shaw play that the drama department produced in the fall,” says Melissa Flaim, a lecturer in voice and speech in CUA’s Department of Drama who is coordinating the competition. “We wanted to continue that thread, having the students in the Hartke Declamation Contest discuss the issues that interest them through the prism of science and philosophy.”

To enter the contest, students need to propose a pair of readings taken from oratory, commentary, poetry, literature or drama keyed to the theme of science and/or philosophy by Feb. 22. These proposed readings must be presented to Flaim by e-mailing her at

All members of the CUA community are invited to attend the March 22 competition. Contestants will be judged on elements of diction, elocution, presence and presentation, and the winners will be named at the end of the competition. A reception will follow.

The 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, an experience that helped inspire him to take up a career as a television, film and stage actor.

The contest is held in memory of Rev. Gilbert V. Hartke, O.P., founder of CUA’s drama department.

For more information or to submit entries, contact Melissa Flaim at or 202-319-5358.