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Ridgeland native’s act wins Shakespeare contest

Sage advice from a long-dead poet and author was given new voiceFriday night at Mary Jane Lampton Auditorium during the MississippiSchool of the Arts second Shakespeare Competition.

Ridgeland natives swept the top two slots in the competition.Robbie Gowdy defeated five other competitors to claim the win andPatrick Scott edged Christine Labbe of Waveland to earn secondplace.

The contest opened with the six contestants each doing amonologue. Gowdy, Scott and Labbe were selected by the judges toadvance to the next round and perform a sonnet to determine theirfinal placement.

Gowdy said he “half-way expected” to make the final round, buttying with Scott for first place in the first round was a bit of asurprise.

“I’ve been working on this pretty much the whole year,” he said.”I’ve been looking forward to it, and I enjoyed myselfimmensely.”

Gowdy now advances to the state competition Jan. 14 at St.Joseph’s School in Jackson. The winner of that competition will goto New York City in the spring for the National ShakespeareCompetition.

“We’re really excited because last year we helped bring thisprogram to Mississippi,” said MSA drama director Ken Bolinsky.”It’s flourishing now and we have more schools participating thisyear.”

The program included six schools during its inaugural statecompetition, but has been joined by five other schools thisyear.

MSA placed third last year. They lost to St. Joseph’s, who, aslast year’s state competition winner, will host this year’s statecompetition.

“I’d like to see it brought back to Brookhaven next year,”Bolinsky said. “This is a state with a really strong tradition indebate and performance.”

The MSA’s senior class chose the six finalists who competed inFriday’s competition after watching a monologue performed by eachstudent.

The audience had the opportunity to score the monologues andsonnets along with the judges. The score sheets gave descriptionsfor what the performers needed to accomplish in voice, movement andinterpretation to receive specific scores. The audience scoresdidn’t count in the judging, however.

“It’s a fun thing for them – to see how their scores compared tothe judges’ tallies,” Bolinsky said.

Audience members Bernadette DeRussy of Diamondhead and EliseFouasnon of Bay St. Louis said it was tough to predict thewinners.

“I think they all did really well,” DeRussy said. “They didn’tseem as nervous as I thought they’d be.”

Fouasnon agreed. “They seemed more natural than most people I’veseen do Shakespeare.”

DeRussy and Fouasnon had predicted Labbe would be the winner bya narrow margin over Gowdy and Scott, but were not surprised by thejudges’ decision.

“It was very close,” DeRussy said.