Dubai: 6-year-old boy is youngest to recite iconic Shakespeare monologue

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on May 13, 2021
Vihaan Dasgupta. Photo: Supplied

The monologue was only one of the many things Vihaan had memorised.

While most six-year-olds are still learning the basics of reading, writing and math, Dubai kid Vihaan Dasgupta has conquered an incredible challenge.

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen…lend me your ears,” a shy Vihaan recited during a video conversation with Khaleej Times on Thursday. It was the first line of an iconic monologue from William Shakespeare’s historical tragedy Julius Caesar. And Vihaan knows all 27 lines of it by heart.

The Grade 2 student of Emirates International School in the Meadows is set to land a spot in the India Book of Records for being the youngest to recite the entire speech by Mark Antony, one of Shakespeare’s best-known monologues that is part of Julius Caesar. Penned in 1599, the play recounted the story of the Roman emperor’s rise and subsequent assassination.

“It took me three weeks to memorise the monologue,” said Vihaan. “I memorised four lines of the speech every day and kept practising.”

His mother Priyanka Dasgupta gave him the laborious task to test his capacity to memorise complex sentences and concepts.

“It was something he did over the spring break this year. I had figured that Vihaan has a sharp memory, and I put him on this task to see how far he can go,” said Priyanka.

In a matter of weeks, Vihaan was easily reciting the entire speech by Mark Antony. Surprised by the second-grader’s achievement, the family approached the Indian Book of Records to check if anyone else held a similar record.

“We sent a video in a prescribed format to them and after verifying the attempt, we got an e-mail from the editorial board confirming that he is the youngest in the world to recite the speech,” said Priyanka, who works at a university in the UAE.

The e-mail from India Book of Records read: “He is the youngest person in the world to recite the speech ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen’ which was delivered by Mark Antony to the Roman public.”

The monologue was only one of the many things Vihaan had memorised. “He can name the capitals of all countries capitals of Indian and American states, and the entire periodic table,” said Priyanka.

“These are things he picked up entirely by himself. He has a keen interest in geography and he has a huge world map in his room. He watched videos online and learnt all the capitals,” she explained.

When Priyanka thought of challenging her son, he chose the Julius Caesar monologue as it was close to her heart. “I have recited this very speech when I was in Grade 10. It is something that resonates with me,” she said.

Memorising the piece was initially hard, Vihaan said, “especially around the sixth part”.

“However, over time, I learnt to say the entire speech,” the boy added. When asked if he has any plans to memorise the entire play, Vihaan turned to his mother, who said, “This has been a great way to keep him occupied during the pandemic.”


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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