Cranleigh’s brand new public speaking championship Dangerous Minds saw six contestants from across the school go head-to-head to pitch their ‘Dangerous Idea’ to the audience of pupils, staff and parents, with each having eight minutes to sell their radical proposal using only the power of their voice.
As always, Mr Ellis and the Technical Theatre team produced an incredibly professional setting, which provided a fitting backdrop to the exceptional performances from the contestants.
Henry Mould opened the night with his radical idea of ending the concept of nation states to promote peace and harmony in the world. Henry launched into a thought-provoking attack on the major problems caused by nationalism, highlighting that it is still one of the leading causes of global conflict. He ended with an impassioned call to arms to break down the barriers to progress that patriotism has installed.
The audience were then treated to a heart-warming talk by Charlie Wilson on his idea of ‘United Minds’; a UN-sponsored initiative to combat suicide and self-harm around the world. Charlie exposed the extent of issue, highlighting that only wealthy individuals have access to treatment for severe mental illness. Charlie’s vision for United Minds was to offer help and support to everyone in strong communities, harnessing team sport, meditation and conversation to help people regain purpose in their lives. Charlie had the audience hanging off every word, and was a real natural on stage, despite only being in his first year at Cranleigh.
Ella Job concluded the first half of the competition with her outstanding talk on solving the issue of ‘rape culture’ in society today. Again, delivered perfectly, with no notes, Ella stunned the audience into silence, drawing out the key statistic that 1 in 4 women are likely to suffer a sexual assault at some point in their lives, contrasting that to her 1 in 12 chance of getting into medical school next year. Ella went on to expose how no matter how much this issue has been discussed, the problems associated with it are still prevalent, with people staying silent and not taking a stand against the root causes of the problem. It was undoubtedly one of the most powerful performances seen on the Speech Hall stage on a highly sensitive topic, but Ella showed the utmost professionalism in her delivery, resulting in a standing ovation.
Following a short break for the audience to catch their breath, it was time for the ebullient Hugo Puddle, no stranger to the stage at Cranleigh, with his dangerous idea to re-classify drug addicts as sufferers of mental health. Hugo cited the Suicide Act of 1963 as a pivotal moment of emancipation in the UK, and argued that in 2019, this milestone should be repeated in order to stop incarcerating drug addicts and instead treating them for their illness, thus saving both money and lives at the same time. Delivered with confidence, elements of humour and with superb body language, it was tough to find anything but support for the argument that Hugo was making.
Poppy Higgins then captured the imagination of Speech Hall, embarrassing the audience into the amount of time spent on mobile devices rather than having valuable conversations with people. Poppy used humour exceptionally well to tell stories of how technology is making people become even more isolated and lonely, before explaining that banning technology was not a good option. Her idea was a mobile app called speed chat, that could enable conversations between people, helping them to talk more often and share ideas, regardless of their interests. Poppy ended with the line ‘conversations really do matter’; a strong message for the watching pupils to ponder.
To round off the evening, Ollie Corbett took the audience head on by claiming that the only way to ensure equality in the UK could work was to ban private schools; a highly controversial subject, given who was listening. Ollie painted a vision of ending the rampant inequality in the UK, before pointing out how unfair it was that wealth could buy status simply through purchasing the best education. He cited the example of the education system in Finland where private schools were outlawed in the early 1990s as part of a number of key educational initiatives, which has since seen the country top the charts for living standards and income equality in recent years. Another stage veteran, Ollie had exceptional presence and a very clear message of a need for change.
It was a very tough job for a judging panel of Mr Bird, Dr Saxel, Mr Rothwell and Rev Lewis, who were all blown away by the quality and professionalism of the performers. Mr Bird had even mistakenly believed the performers were using an autocue, as he could not believe that the talks were being delivered so effectively and clearly without one. In the end, the judges decided that the runner-up was Charlie Morgan, and the Henry Hunt trophy for Dangerous Minds Champion 2019 was awarded to Ella Job.
Full videos of each Idea can be found here: vimeo.com/cranleighschool
A huge congratulations to all of our finalists for a wonderful and inspirational evening, enjoyed by all who attended. Dangerous Minds will return again next year.