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Education | The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition

2011 winner: Stephanie Wong

2011 winner

Stephanie Wong, a senior at Hathaway Brown School, celebrates with teacher Molly Cornwell after Wong won first place in the 2011 Shakespeare Competition at PlayhouseSquare's Idea Center in Cleveland. - Photo courtesy of The Plain Dealer

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The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition

Great Lakes Theater, The English-Speaking Union of the United States Cleveland Branch, and PlayhouseSquare invite your high school to participate in the National Shakespeare Competition.

The Cleveland Branch of the English-Speaking Union, in partnership with Great Lakes Theater and PlayhouseSquare, will proudly present the Regional Shakespeare Competition for high school students at PlayhouseSquare. The winner from the Regional Competition will then have the opportunity to compete at the National Shakespeare Competition.

All high schools in Cuyahoga County and surrounding NE Ohio counties are eligible to participate. Prizes include a chance to compete at the National Competition, books, scholarship money, tickets to Great Lakes Theater productions and more. Teachers are eligible to apply for a BUSS scholarship (British University Summer School) to study in Britain in the summer.

For more information about how to get your school involved, please contact:
Lisa Ortenzi
Director of Educational Programming
Great Lakes Theater
(216) 241-5490 x306
Contact Lisa

What is the ESU National Shakespeare Competition?

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is a school-based program designed to help high school students develop their speaking and critical thinking skills and their appreciation of literature as they explore the beauty of the language and the timeless themes in Shakespeare works. In the competition, students read, interpret, and perform monologues and sonnets in three qualifying stages—at the school, community, and national levels.

Since its beginnings with 500 students in New York City, the program has given more than 250,000 young people of all backgrounds the opportunity to discover Shakespeare's writing and to communicate their understanding of his language and message. Currently, the Competition involves 60 English-Speaking Union Branch communities nationwide.

Every April, the winners of the local Branch Competitions come to New York City to take part in the ESU National Shakespeare Competition held at Lincoln Center. In the semi-finals, all contestants perform a monologue and a sonnet on stage. In the last phase of the Competition, those students selected as finalists present a cold reading in addition to their monologues and sonnets.

The winner of the ESU National Shakespeare Competition receives a full tuition scholarship to the British American Drama Academy 's Midsummer Conservatory Program in Oxford , England. The runner-up receives $1,000 from the English-Speaking Union, and the third place winner is awarded $500 by The Shakespeare Society.

The ESU National Shakespeare Competition has been recognized by the Globe Center (USA), the Children's Theatre Foundation of America, and the American Academy of Achievement. Judges for the Competition have included Andre Braugher, Kate Burton, Maurice Charney, Blythe Danner, Barry Edelstein, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Helen Hayes, Edward Herrmann, Dana Ivey, Peter Francis James, Kristin Linklater, Peter MacNicol, Jesse L. Martin, Cynthia Nixon, Tina Packer, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nancy Piccione, Phylicia Rashad, Christopher Reeve, Louis Scheeder, Carole Shelley, Richard Thomas, Courtney B. Vance, Sam Waterston, Dianne Wiest, and Irene Worth.