Come Join Us for the October Program!
Welcome greeting from Barbara W. Hughes, President...
Welcome to the home page of the Central Florida Branch of the English- Speaking Union. Many times, I have been asked, "What is the English- Speaking Union and what is its purpose?" The English- Speaking Union is a non-profit, non-political educational organization with the mission to celebrate English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.
The organization was launched in England in 1918 on the initiative of journalist Evelyn Wrench and sixteen friends with the aim of promoting closer ties between English speaking peoples from around the world. In 1920 the ESU won the support of President Woodrow Wilson, and in 1921 the English-Speaking Union was formed with William Howard Taft as its first President. Presently there are sixty-five branches within the United States and branches in more than fifty countries around the world.
Professor Maurice O'Sullivan
On September 16th, the ESU Central Florida branch held its opening meeting of the 2019-20 year. Professor Maurice O'Sullivan, Kenneth Curry Professor of English at Rollins College, proved that the fascination with Frankenstein is "still alive" as his lecture held a packed audience of ESU members, collegiate students, and academic teachers entranced. From his commentary on the rebellious nature of young Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, to her divine creation of Frankenstein, and its current evolution into a trope used primarily to delegitimize science, Frankenfears were uncovered.
By the end of the program, Shelley's profound impact on matters farther reaching than literature was realized, and there was even time for a special guest appearance!
On the weekend of June 28, the Orlando Shakes staged Henry V, the third play of seven in its Fire and Reign history series being presented over three seasons. The play was performed by the troupe of this year's Young Company, 21 high schoolers in the annual summer camp supported by a grant from the Central Florida Branch of the English-Speaking Union. After only four weeks of learning and rehearsing, the 14-18 year-olds performed the first history play staged by a Young Company under Director Monica Long Tamborello. Aware that modern teens might not relate to a 15th century war between England and France, Director Tamborello gambled that this coming of age tale about a young king leaving his wilder days behind to embrace his destiny as ruler of a nation would indeed appeal to young actors. The enthusiasm and excellence they brought to the stage confirmed her theory!
Students in the Orlando Shakes summer camp, Shakespeare With Heart, presented A Comedy of Errors on July 19th. An ESU grant provides scholarships for disabled and non-disabled students to explore Shakespeare's world, acting together in a public performance at camp's end.
On February 25, seventeen students from the tri-county area arrived at The University Club to participate in The English-Speaking Union's annual Shakespeare competition. Vying for the opportunity to win $1,000.00 for First Place, along with an additional prize to cover the cost of travel and the chance to perform in New York City, this year's contenders made for difficult judging decisions. On the panel of judges this year were Anne Hering: Director of Education at The Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Dr. Maurice "Socky" O'Sullivan: Professor at Rollins College, and Brandon Yagel: Education Coordinator at The Orlando Shakespeare Theater.
The Central Florida Branch held its third annual Scholars Reunion at Marlowe's Tavern in Winter Park, March 27th from 5:00 to 7:00. Former scholars met the "newbies" and lots of conversation ensued with tips to guide the folks going to Oxford, the Globe and Edinburgh's new Theater and Performance program. Drinks, chicken quesadillas, kettle chips and cookies made a festive gathering for around 25 board members and teacher/scholars. This event brings friends together and supports the relationships formed while studying in the U.K. We now look forward to the next of our reunions which is scheduled for October.
The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.
To find out more about our programs click here.