In his review of Henry V, Tim Treanor stated that the St. Crispin’s Day speech was the greatest of all of Shakespeare’s speeches. True? We posed the question to some of our favorite Shakespeare scholars around town, then turned it over to our readers in a poll. Result? The votes are in and Henry wins! Though our “Shakespeare’s greatest speech” poll garnered a wide variety of responses including several intriguing reader suggestions (which you can read here), a substantial plurality of our voters chose the “Crispin Day speech” as the Bard’s masterpiece. Jacques’ “Seven Ages of Man” speech from As You Like It and Marc Antony’s oration over Caesar’s body in Julius Caesar were runners-up.
Our thanks to our distinguished panel, Shakespeare Theatre Company Literary Associate Akiva Fox, Washington Shakespeare Theatre Company Artistic Director Christopher Henley, actor and WeLoveDC theatre critic Jenn Larsen, actor and Folger Theatre Mistress of Revels (nice work if you can get it!) Cam Magee, Folger Shakespeare Library Director Dr. Gail Paster, and our own Tim Treanor, and to the numerous readers who offered their original thoughts on this questions.
As a special treat, the most excellent James Konicek, now appearing in the Washington Stage Guild’s Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime, has volunteered to read the winning entry (in a voice, Peter Marks notes, “that purrs like a Rolls”). Listen to it here.