The English-Speaking Union

News and Events

2018 National Shakespeare Competition competitors

April 23 may have been a normal Monday for most students, but as the birthday of William Shakespeare and the date of the 35th Annual National Shakespeare Competition, April 23, 2018 will be a day that fifty-five high school students will never forget. Students from around the US competed on stage in the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center as the culmination of a year-long competition hosted by the English-Speaking Union (ESU). 
English in Action provided the semi-finalists who traveled to New York from around the country with two days of educational and cultural activities, including an exclusive acting workshop by the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University faculty and a tour of The Juilliard School. Perhaps best of all for these teenagers was the opportunity to spend time with other students from across the country who share a love of the English language and, particularly, Shakespeare.

Jackson DeanJackson Dean from Palm Valley High School in Rancho Mirage, California was the winner of the 35th Annual English in Action National Shakespeare Competition and received a full scholarship to attend the Young Actor's Summer School at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. A student of Susie Zachik and representative of the ESU Palm Springs Branch, Jackson performed as Iago from Shakespeare's Othello and recited Sonnet 55 in the final round of competition.
"Shakespeare is an art form. Shakespeare is fascinating and a truly remarkable advanced form of drama and theater. I'm looking forward to experiencing the exuberant life of the city once more. New York's energy, no matter how many times I visit the city, is beautifully contagious." wrote Jackson about Shakespeare and coming to New York City.
His advice for future Shakespeareans: "You guys can win too if you believe in it. Don't doubt yourself."

EliEli Owens from Penfield High School in Penfield, New York placed second in the competition and received a scholarship to attend the American Shakespeare Center Theater Camp in Staunton, Virginia. A student of Regina Darling and representative of the ESU Rochester Branch, Eli performed as Parolles in Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well and recited Sonnet 29 in the final round of competition.
"I'm excited to be surrounded by individuals who share a passion for something most individuals our age turn a blind eye to—individuals who look at Shakespeare as an art form, not an academic." wrote Eli about the experience of competing with fellow students.

Julia TalbotJulia Talbot from Medford High School in Boston, Massachusetts placed third in the competition and received a cash prize of $500. A student of Douglas Bowen-Flynn and representative of the ESU Boston Branch, Julia performed as Richard from Shakespeare's Richard III and recited Sonnet 129 in the final round of competition.
"Every time I read or reread Shakespeare, I have a miniature revelation: where that idiom came from, how another author was inspired, the origin of some quote I never even realized was a quote. His influence is everywhere in our culture, and so culture itself begins to make more sense reading him. He's just so universal: Hamlet will be relevant for as long as there are fathers and sons; Macbeth, as long as there are husbands and wives; Romeo and Juliet, as long as there are teenagers (and teenagers will always be teenagers)." wrote Julia about Shakespeare.
Finalists ESU Branch
Gabriela Furtado Coutinho Fort Lauderdale
Christina Liberus New York City
Nicholas Moseley San Diego
Julian O'Byrne San Francisco
Rohan Padmakumar New Orleans
Emily Trend Princeton
Samantha Vatalaro Albany



ESU Branch
Nia Alexander Charlotte
Miriam Arden Tucson
Kaitlyn Bross St. Louis
Jenna Burns Sandhills
Abby Burris Greensboro
Christopher Cates Colonial NC
Reese Dawkins Tulsa
Judy Durkin Los Angeles
Noah Garcia Phoenix
Joilynn Green Austin
Sarah Hamdan Buffalo
Emerson Helmbrecht Charlottesville
Alexandra Jabbarpour Southwest Virginia
Harrison Kidd Nashville
Skylar Mabry Denver
Broen McCloskey Portland
Dylan McCormick Greenwich
Hermela Mengesha Washington DC
Olivia Moffa Syracuse
Katherine Moody Jacksonville
Tiana Mudzimurema Indianapolis
Lucy Mulholland Kansas City
Dianelys Mustelier-Mayeta Lexington
Thien An Nguyen Houston
Andrew Oglesby Atlanta
Ruby O'Malley Hawaii
Madeleine O'Toole Memphis
Zoë Peterson Kentucky
Julianna Portillo-Del Valle Miami
Emir Price Dallas
Sydni Rose Rambo Delaware
Steven Rosario Rhode Island
Catherine Schilling Naples
Maria Guardino Schreiner Cleveland
Ben Shaevitz Palm Beach
Aquila Simmons Columbus
Isabella Siska Cincinnati
Devlin Stark Monmouth County
Morgan Swales Research Triangle
Sam Theis Chicago
Valerie Trapp Central Florida
Phoebe Wall Seattle
Ava Wendelken Central Pennsylvania
Max Yillah Philadelphia
Eden Young Savannah

Semifinal Judges
  • Kelley Curran, actor and former National Shakespeare Competition participant
  • Michael LoMonico, Senior Consultant on National Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Alexandra López, Associate Director of Education at Lincoln Center Theater
  • Geoffrey Owens, actor
  • Sid Ray, Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies at Pace University
Finalist Judges
  • Sarah Enloe, Director of Education at the American Shakespeare Center
  • Christopher Hodgkins, Professor of English at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and member of the ESU Board of Directors
  • Dana Ivey, actor
  • Louis Scheeder, Director of the Classical Studio at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (and longest running competition judge)
  • Graham Turner, actor
William Shakespeare Day Proclamation
Citing its 35th season this year, the Honorable Bill De Blasio, Mayor of the City of New York, proclaimed Monday, April 23, 2018 as "William Shakespeare Day" in New York City. Laura Hickey, the Deputy British Consul General in New York, read the proclamation and Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill CBE KSt.J, Chairman of the English-Speaking Union, the awarded the competitors certificates of achievement.

We gratefully acknowledge our supporters whose generosity made the 2018 National Shakespeare Competition possible.
Anne and Herschel Abbott
The Achelis and Bodman Foundations 
Guillermo and Susan Becker 
Algaze American International Accreditation Association of Schools
Robert Amott and Janice Flanagan 
Henry and Pamela Bell III
Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill CBE, KSt.J 
Bishop Moore Catholic High School 
Joy Daniels Brower
Brookfield Properties
Molly Rose Clifford
Dr. Loveday Conquest and Fred Kleinschmidt 
Christopher J. Cull 
Catharine-Mary Donovan 
Lydia Selby Eitel
ESU Charleston Branch 
ESU Dallas Branch 
ESU New Orleans Branch 
ESU New York Branch
ESU Tucson Branch
Joseph Feldman
Courtney Flanagan
Richard H. and Sandra Frank 
Sarah B. Goley 
Dr. Deloris Grant
Paul D. and Teresa Harrington
Joy Harris
Dr. Christopher Hodgkins
Samuel C. O. Holt
Thomas H. Huss
Edward A. Hyde
Sabrina Kanner
Marjorie L. Kennedy
Alice S. Kirby
Colleen Lanning
Gloria A. Laverty
Mark Lawhorn and Lynn Haff 
Michael LoMonico
The Malkin Fund
Kristi Rose Maloney
Bernard and Patricia McElhone 
Patricia Ann Moore
The Mountbatten Institute
Clive Muncaster and Dulcie Bull 
Susan M. Nelsen
Margaret Nolan
W.H. and Rose Odell
Dorinda J. Oliver
Malcolm S. Pray, Jr. Foundation, Inc. 
Natalie T. Pray 
Gideon Rappaport
Noel Sloan
Jeffrey G. Smith 
Deborah Smith 
Webster Kathleen Snyder 
Martin Sonkin 
St. Francis University
Ethan and Barbara Stanley
Curt and Anne Steele
Paul Steen
Ben G. Stone
Mary Alice Toomey
Verneice Turner and Douglas May
Priscilla and W. Sloan Upton
Dr. Julia Churchill Van de Water
Jim Venturi
Susan and Otey Walker
Westminster People
Laura R. White
Maclin D. Whiteman and Caryn Wagner 
Robert G. Young
The design and printing of this program was made possible by a generous gift from the ESU Charleston and New Orleans branches and Priscilla and W. Sloan Upton. 
We gratefully acknowledge the generous in-kind support from our partners:
The American Shakespeare Center
Brooklyn Academy of Music
ESU New York Branch
Lincoln Center Theater
The Morgan Library & Museum
The Public Theater
Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts
Theatre for a New Audience
Tisch School of the Arts, New York University 
Walkers Shortbread

Special Thanks 
We thank the ESU Branches, members, volunteers, judges, teachers and parents who, in addition to providing financial support, contribute their time, talent and passion to the National Shakespeare Competition.

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