The Catholic University of America

March 25, 2010

Three Students Win Prizes in Dramatic Recitation

  Hartke Declamation Contest winners, from left, Mark De Celles, Caitlin Shea and Mimsi Janis

Science and philosophy were given dramatic voice as three Catholic University students won cash prizes by giving artful recitations of sections from articles, books and plays during the fifth annual Hartke Declamation Contest at Callan Theatre earlier this week.

At the March 22 contest, the first-place winner, Caitlin Shea, a senior musical theater major from Hopkinton, Mass., won $1,000 for her presentation of the Jan. 19, 2007, Time magazine article “Time Travel in the Brain.” She also recited a segment of the Elizabeth Gilbert book Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia about each person’s responsibility to search for happiness.

Second-place winner Mimsi Janis, a first-year graduate student in CUA’s Master of Fine Arts acting program, from Clifton, Va., won $300 for her recitation from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success about the many environmental factors that contribute to the formation of truly exceptional people, and from the Eve Ensler play The Good Body on being a woman and the meaning of “good.”

Third-place winner Mark De Celles, a Ph.D. student in systematic theology from Silver Spring, Md., recited the text of the preface and dedication to Pope Paul II from On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres by Nicholaus Copernicus, edited by Stephen Hawking. His second recitation was from the Tom Stoppard play Arcadia, in which a character in the early 1800s enthuses on the physics of everyday actions such as the pouring of milk into coffee.

Five other students also gave presentations for the contest, which was 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.

Each student chose the scientific or philosophical readings that they recited from memory.

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 says it helped inspire him to take up a career as a television, film and stage actor.

The contestants were judged on diction, elocution, presence and presentation. The contest judges were actress Melissa Flaim, a lecturer in voice and speech in CUA’s drama department; Glen Johnson, associate dean of undergraduate programs in CUA’s School of Arts and Sciences; and actor Alan Wade, a drama professor at George Washington University who earned his master’s degree in drama from CUA in 1972.

“Of the five years that we’ve held this competition, this was our strongest field of contestants,” says Flaim.

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.