Hana Chorley on stage at Sydney Eisteddfod. Photo: WinkiPoP Media
Twelve year old Hana Chorley tells us about her passion for Verse Speaking and the inspiration behind her performance of ‘Thunderstorm’ by Peter Skryneski, which scored her first place in the Featured Australian Poets (15 & Under) event.
When and why did you start taking Speech and Drama lessons?
I started taking part in eisteddfods when I was around 6 years old after watching my brother Alex compete for a number of years. I was very shy and my mum thought it would be a good way to improve my confidence however I've never had an official lesson with a teacher, apart from my mum!
After winning a few prizes I started to enjoy getting up on stage and now I look forward to Sydney Eisteddfod every year. I've also recently started taking public speaking classes in a group at school, which is a lot of fun.
I'm a high level acrobatic gymnast (I'm on the national squad in a trio - I'm the one they throw in the air!), so it's nice to do something very different to gymnastics once in a while.
You chose to perform ‘Thunderstorm’ by Peter Skryneski in the Featured Australian Poets (15 & Under) event, tell us about this piece.
It's a very dramatic but lyrical verse describing a thunderstorm on a farm and the fear of those watching from inside, which turns to relief once the storm is over and everything is OK again. I picked it because it has lots of different moods and a happy ending!
What was it like to win five placing’s (One 1st, Two 2nd’s, Two 3rd’s and a H/C) in this years Sydney Eisteddfod?
It was really great - especially as my brother always wins prizes at the eisteddfod and not me so much (sorry Alex!). I'd actually broken my ankle at gymnastics the week before the competition so I had to hop on to the stage on crutches for every event, which was tricky at times. I couldn't really perform my monologue properly as I couldn't move around very much, so I was amazed to do so well and it really cheered me up!
What do you do to prepare for your performances?
Practice, practice, practice - there's no other way really! I get my mum to watch and give me a few tips but it's mostly up to me to learn the pieces well and make sure I know what they're about so I can perform them convincingly. I had to do everything sitting in a chair this year because of my injury, but that actually improved my performance, as I couldn't wriggle around so much!
What would you say to someone that was thinking about entering the Sydney Eisteddfod? What advice do you have to offer?
Have a go - it's lots of fun and everyone really supports each other at the competitions. I have also made friends with people outside of school which has been great.
What was the most memorable aspect of performing in the Sydney Eisteddfod?
I guess this year it would have to be winning the 15/under Australian verse section as I hadn't won a first place for a couple of years (I was always second or third!). I am still only 12 so I was really amazed and proud to win against some much older competitors.
What is you favourite Sydney Eisteddfod event to watch or perform in?
I really enjoy watching the other entrants perform in the monologue sections and some of their costumes are amazing. I prefer verse speaking myself but it depends on the item I am performing and how comfortable I feel with it
What have you learnt about yourself through performing in the Sydney Eisteddfod?
I am a very shy person but somehow when I get up on stage that changes and I just get on with it. It's proved to me that I can do anything if I put my mind to it!
What do you dream to achieve?
I'm actually hoping to become an astrophysicist one day as I really love science and maths and I'm fascinated with how and why the universe began. The skills I have learned as a result of taking part in the Sydney Eisteddfod will certainly come in useful in the future when I'm giving speeches or lectures!