Paul Berton, BA, BCI, FGSM, Professor of Dramatic Art and Declamation at the Guildhall School of Music, with the aid of some of his students, made 8 recordings for Columbia demonstrating his principle of “Logical-Rhetorical Dissection of Speech”

Shakespeare – As You Like It: Rosalind’s Speech, Act III, Scene V
Miss Margaret Littlefair, actor
Shakespeare – Twelfth Night: Garden Scene Duologue, Olivia and Viola, Act III, Scene 1
Miss Winifred Cain, actor
Miss Bronwen Rees, actor

Shakespeare – As You Like It: Rosalind’s Speech – Littlefair

Shakespeare – Twelfth Night: Garden Scene – Cain, Rees

(mp3 files – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Columbia 4396
Matrices WA 3717-3, 3715-2 (23549, 23547)
Recorded 1927
Available from June 1927

Paul Berton, BA, BCI, FGSM, Professor of Dramatic Art and Declamation at the Guildhall School of Music, with the aid of some of his students, made the following 8 recordings demonstrating his principle of “Logical-Rhetorical Dissection of Speech”

This is the third of four records. The set was roundly demolished in a review in Gramophone in August 1927:

You all know the lines about little victims heedless of their doom, and here have I been sitting hard at work to-day quite unaware of the doom in store for me in a little heap of unplayed records. This afternoon the blow fell. I have played them all through, and if I say that they are more depressing than any recent weather forecast I shall actually be understating their effect. These records, four in number from Columbia, are announced as follows :–” TRAINING FOR SPEAKING. A Series of Columbia Records of Declamatory Art Demonstrating the Logical-Rhetorical Dissection of Speech by the Students of Paul Berton, B.A., etc., Professor of the Guildhall School of Music.”

…I find in these four records every fault of the professional elocutionist. It is all very well to dissect Shakespeare, but there is surely no reason why he should be murdered first, for murdered he is by these pupils of Mons. Paul Berton. Miss Winifred Cain has a really good voice; if she were properly taught she might make a good Shakespearian actress, and I am not sure that something might not be made of Miss Bronwen Rees. But no amount of logical-rhetorical dissection can compensate for the monotonous two notes, which is all that Mons. Berton seems to allow his pupils. I am aware that most Rosalinds rebuke their Phoebes in the style of a coy governess, but this particular version of the speech by Miss Margaret Littlefair outdoes all previous Rosalinds.

…It is dreadful to think what may be going on under our ears all the time without our being aware of it. I don’t know how long Mons. Berton has been a professor of declamation and dramatic art at the Guildhall School of Music, but he has evidently been there long enough to write a book about it, and a fine nonsensical piece of work it seems to be, to judge by the extracts. I had never thought of the Guildhall School of Music as a dangerous institution until I played through these records to-day.

….these elocutionary records are not a success, and I shall not send any of my young friends to the Guildhall School of Music. Does Shakespeare pay ? No, and he never will pay until we can get somebody to act him. Mr. Basil Maine the other night read three or four lines from Shakespeare so well that I wish he would record John of Gaunt’s glorious speech. Then there is the chief announcer of the B.B.C. He knows how to read. It is all very fine to have a Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, but we shall soon have to start a Society for the Protection of Ancient Poetry, with appeals to The Times signed by Mr. J. C. Squire, etc., calling on the public to help in preserving Hamlet’s soliloquies from logical rhetorical dissection. Columbia ! Columbia ! Why did you publish these records ?