Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

This speech of yours hath moved me: The ESU National Shakespeare Competition

Scott Van Wye, a student of Richard Phillipy at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis, won first prize at the 31st annual English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition on May 5. Scott performed a speech by Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing and a cold reading from The Tempest in addition to a sonnet. The competition was held at Lincoln Center Theater in New York City for 58 winners of ESU Branch competitions nationwide. Scott’s prize for placing first is a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’s Young Actors Summer School in London.

Winning student Scott Van Wye from Indianapolis
Winning student Scott Van Wye from Indianapolis

The runner up, Chloe Bell from Kentucky, won a full scholarship to the American Shakespeare Center’s Theatre Camp in Staunton, Virginia. Third place winner Ashish Ramachandran, representing the Greenwich Branch of the ESU, won $500 from The Shakespeare Society.

l to r - Third place winner, Ashish Ramachandran, winner Scott Van Wye and Second place winner Chloe Bell
(left-right) Third place winner Ashish Ramachandran; winner Scott Van Wye; second place winner Chloe Bell

Peggy O’Brien, the Folger’s Director of Education, was one of the four judges, along with Matt Harrington, Peter Francis James, and Louis Scheeder.

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is a school-based program designed to help students develop their speaking and critical thinking skills and their appreciation of literature as they explore the beauty of the language and timeless themes in Shakespeare’s works. In three progressive competition levels, students memorize, interpret, and perform monologues and sonnets in their own schools, at ESU Branch-sponsored community competitions and at the National Shakespeare Competition. The program has engaged more than 250,000 young people since its inception.

The competition now requires participants to use the Folger Editions of the plays or Folger Digital Texts. In addition with the cooperation of the Folger, they have also created a series of lesson plans on monologues and sonnets designed to help implement the Competition in your classroom and beyond. These lesson plans were created by Sue Biondo-Hench, the ESU’s Competition Teacher Liaison for the 2013-2014 School Year.