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Grace Hogg-Robson Class of 2014 Arts Presentation Evening Speech Good evening everyone! I thought I’d start by just telling you a little bit about who I am and why I’ve been invited here tonight. I was a student at Wycombe High from 2007 until 2014, and while I was here I was heavily involved in drama and art, and also music. I did Drama and Art at GCSE and A-level and I was a member of the Chamber Choir, which was then run by the lovely Mrs Cornall and gave me the opportunity to go on Music Tour to Krakow, Poland in 2012. Having said that I think she may have eventually admitted me to the choir out of pity, I was never hugely musical, but all my friends were! I also ran the Year 7 drama club, was the student director on the lower school musical ‘Bugsy Malone’ (which some of you may have been involved in) and I even did make up on the school panto one year which saw me using my liquid eyeliner to give on of our history teachers a moustache…! I also did English Literature at A-level, although you may notice that I never quite got the hang of using cue cards in public speaking. I’m now an actor and since leaving school I’ve worked for companies like the BBC, Nickelodeon and Warner Brothers as well as various theatre companies. I recently finished touring a production of ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ and I’m currently filming a project for BBC3 called ‘Pls Like’, which will hopefully be out later in the year. Just as a side note if anyone is interested in getting into the industry, feel free to pull me aside later, I’m more than willing to answer any queries. Tonight though, I wanted to share the amazing experiences of some of my colleagues in the hope that you might be able to take away something inspirational and empowering. I wanted to give you a speech that will remind you how important the arts, and furthermore, your achievements within them really are. As I was interviewing one of my colleagues about his experiences he said that “It is the responsibility of schools to keep creativity going.” I thought it was a really brilliant observation and one of the reasons I’m so pleased to see the school rewarding achievements in the arts. In our society, and the current political and economic climate the arts can be seen as something extra, something unnecessary and yet they are at the heart of all society. Every culture in the world is founded upon music, artwork and storytellingeven the fictional ones, like the worlds within Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings! But when the arts are so accessible it is easy to forget how much we need them. We take them for granted. Matthew Romain, an actor I worked with on Jekyll & Hyde, was part of a production by the Globe Theatre in London that took Hamlet to every country in the world. If a country was unsafe due to war or conflict the company would instead play a refugee camp inhabited by those that had fled. Their actions received a lot of publicity and in the comment threads of the online articles there was significant debate. People questioned the point of their visit with one person even claiming “The last thing they want is liberal loveys spouting Shakespeare at them.” But the biggest problem in refugee camps is boredom. Yes they had shelter, food and clothes but what was there for them to do? And really, truly, what better way to be diverted for a couple of hours than a performance- a piece about what may have been experienced, a play that provides catharsis and somewhere to escape to. As the Globe Company found a simple story can take on different nuances everywhere. A woman in Uganda made of Hamlet that is was “A play a about a woman’s right to humanity.” Crossing so many borders with that single story, had the power to bring so many people together. After all, the stories we tell are universal and it seems there is no nation in the


world that can’t appreciate a 400 year old English play. It seems, on reflection, that there is so little that truly separates us. A good friend of mine, Sam Clemmett is involved with ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ and is currently performing it on Broadway. When I asked him about his experiences he reflected on how moved he’d been by the communities the show had created. The story they perform has reached out to those who feel or have ever felt isolated or unwanted. They’ve found a community at the theatre, through that story, where they feel included, loved, wanted and SEEN. When I inquired as to why he thought the production had had such a profound effect he remarked that at the heart of the play are two misunderstood characters. Then “They find each other and a beautiful friendship is born.” Now, as a result similar beautiful friendships are being formed between fans. Art has this amazing ability to help us recognise each other, you can suddenly look at someone and go “Do you feel it to? I thought I was the only one.” A haven of love and understanding is created in these situations. Simply, people get the opportunity to find their tribe. After all, everyone wants to be understood, included and accepted and art is a fantastic gateway for this. Unfortunately though, especially in the current economic climate the arts are not secure. I was really saddened to learn that the company that produced Jekyll and Hyde have recently lost their funding. They’d made huge strides in taking drama to areas of the country that don’t have huge drama audiences and they’d been working in order to build this - particularly with local schools. The arts cuts have effected everybody - even if you might not realise it. T Additionally, in most state schools, according to a recent article in the Guardian “entries to arts and creative subjects have fallen to their lowest level in a decade.” It goes on to comment that “ if we want our creative industries to continue to flourish – we need to rebalance our education system so that the arts are valued just as much as other subjects. Every child should have equal access to the benefits that the arts and culture bring” not just those with access to private education. I know from personal experience that when admitting that an area of the arts is not only a passion but a chosen career path, the responses can be damaging. People will tell you that it’s not a real job, artists never make any money, you have to have parents in the industry in order to make it, it’s very competitive and the chances are you’ll fail…believe me, I’ve heard them all. I am not here to lie to you, or sugarcoat the future but what I will say is this…if you want to be an artist, be an artist. Always listen to criticism but don’t take no for an answer. Being an artist not only requires you to be constantly innovative within yourself, it also requires you be your own boss, your own PA, your own disciplinarian and your own biggest fan. If the door is closed, try a window, if the window is locked, pick the lock. As Leonardo da Vinci observed “People of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” I hope you can all agree with me that the arts are not easy ‘doss’ subjects, they are not extra and unnecessary. They are vital. I’m really excited to be here tonight, to share your achievements and to celebrate the school’s commitment to the arts and honouring the talent of it’s students. I extend huge congratulations to all of you receiving awards tonight, and I can’t wait to see what you all go on to do. Believe in your talent and go out and grab your dreams, along with a paintbrush, a microphone and a great costume. Be the next Adele, the next Spice Girls, Katherine Jenkins, the next Tracey Emin, Kate Bush, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Naomie Harris, Helena Bonham Carter, even the next JK Rowling. But for now I’ll leave you with this quote from Kurt Vonnegut: “Practising an art, no matter how well or badly is a way to make your soul grow…sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”


Grace Hogg-Robson Class of 2014 Arts Presentation Evening Speech  

The second annual Arts Award Ceremony took place on Tuesday 26 June in the Music Centre at Wycombe High School. The awards recognise the ach...

Grace Hogg-Robson Class of 2014 Arts Presentation Evening Speech  

The second annual Arts Award Ceremony took place on Tuesday 26 June in the Music Centre at Wycombe High School. The awards recognise the ach...

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