The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is a loss felt across the world. Her late Majesty was a symbol of unity, constancy and grace, and an inspiration to us all. Among her many responsibilities, she served as Patron of our sister organization - the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth. Her late Majesty's patronage gave special recognition to the purpose of our two organizations – to foster global understanding and goodwill through the power of the English language. We are deeply grateful for her unwavering, life-long support of this lofty mission.
Despite the sad circumstances, The Princess Royal is keeping her promise to travel to New York to stop by the ESU headquarters and attend our Gala at the Cosmopolitan Club on October 3, 2022. This past Tuesday, we had a reconnaissance "recce" visit by the Her Royal Highness' personal protection officer who toured the ESU House and the Cosmopolitan Club in preparation for her arrival.
|Flags at half-mast at ESU National Headquarters|
Her Royal Highness' visit is a special honor and a rare opportunity to showcase the ESU's achievements and contributions to society for over 100 years. The Princess is interested in learning about the ESU's educational programs and scholarships and has asked that during her afternoon stop at the ESU headquarters she meet the staff and beneficiaries of our programs.
In the evening, the Princess will join us to celebrate all of you – members, volunteers, benefactors, activists – who have built the ESU into such a unique and impactful institution. We look forward to the most important moment of the evening when Her Royal Highness will take the stage to address the gathering and recognize the Princess Royal Award honorees.
I'm sure it won't come as a surprise that the Gala is sold out for in-person attendance, but it will be broadcasted live. I invite you to join remotely and be part of this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
I also encourage our Branches to take advantage of the Branch Virtual Access to the Gala. There is no limit on the number of guests who can attend, and it comes with the invitation to send a pre-recorded greeting to Her Royal Highness and all Gala participants worldwide.
I say worldwide because our Gala will be a truly global event bringing together the entire international ESU community. Ms. Jane Easton, Director General of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth, and Ms. Lucia Dumont, former Chair of ESU France and President of the ESU International Council, will be with us in person. And thanks to ESU Board member Donald Best's generous gift, international ESUs from as far as Mauritius and New Zealand, Mongolia and Lithuania, and Ukraine and France will join us remotely for the celebration. I hope you will too.
Just over a month later, on November 11-13 we will come together in Charleston, S.C., for the ESU 2022 Annual Conference, the first in-person convention in three years. On the program are several important working sessions – the 2022 Annual General Meeting, a plenary on the ESU's future growth led by our consultant Rev. Renee LiaBraaten, and a series of workshops on various aspects of Branch life.
There will also be plenty of occasions to experience enchanting Charleston, spend time with old friends, and make new ones. You will enjoy receptions and meals, bespoke guided tours to historic places, the traditional Patron Reception at the Charleston Library Society, and a closing sunset cruise. An optional follow-on tour will offer us a glimpse of Charleston's fascinating cultural heritage with a curated trip to the American College of the Building Arts and Middleton Place, home to the oldest landscaped gardens in the U.S. and an enduring, vibrant, and essential part of the history of Charleston and America.
I invite you to the ESU 2022 Annual Conference to share in the camaraderie and help us to plan for the future of our Union.
In the spring of 2023, we will mark the ESU National Shakespeare Competition's 40th anniversary, an important milestone for our most beloved and widely recognized program. A brainchild of ESU Chairman Emeritus Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill, then headmaster of the Anglo-American School in New York, and Edwina Sandys, Winston Churchill's granddaughter, the competition was originally designed to engage young people in the 1983 Britain Salutes New York festival. Five years later, the ESU held the first truly national Shakespeare Competition in Cleveland, hosted by ESU Cleveland. Since then, the competition has been embraced by our members and generations of teachers and students as a way to connect with the lasting power of the Bard's words.
Coincidentally, 2023 will also mark the quadricentennial of Shakespeare's First Folio. The first printed edition of the Bard's collected plays is an extraordinary achievement of the literary world. Without it, we would have lost half of Shakespeare's dramatic work.
We will take inspiration from the role the First Folio has played in culture and art over the last 400 years and celebrate our own anniversary with a series of events – a Shakespeare festival of sorts – throughout 2023. It will present virtual lectures and in-person Branch events curated by renowned Shakespeare scholar, author, and ESU National Shakespeare Competition judge Dr. Catherine Loomis, professor of English at the University of New Orleans. The entertaining lectures by leading experts will look at Shakespeare's works from a variety of perspectives and discuss how they have inspired art beyond the theatrical stage.
The virtual lectures will bring together the entire membership via Zoom. The Branch-sponsored events will engage our members locally, allowing the host Branches to celebrate the anniversary and raise funds for their activities. The possibilities are endless – from black tie to casual to costume, these parties can be hosted in a restaurant, club or garden (think Forest of Arden from As You Like It) or even on stage. Remember, Shakespeare is theater – make the leap from the page to the stage!
The 40th ESU National Shakespeare Competition will gather all Branch winners, their teachers and families, Branch leaders, and Members-At-Large to a memorable weekend in New York City from April 22-24, 2023. We hope that Lincoln Center will open its doors to us again. A program of exciting activities will be offered to the contestants and guests ending with a festive reception.
The competition's 40th anniversary celebration will culminate in an exclusive small-group tour - a Transatlantic crossing on Queen Mary II, followed by a cultural program in and around London from July 7-17, 2023. Under the theme of Queens of Shakespeare, the voyage will be much more than a trip to the U.K. It will lead to unparalleled cultural insight and personal enrichment.
|Queen Mary II|
At sea, Dr. Loomis will amuse and challenge the twenty or so guests with engaging daytime lectures and evening conversations about all things Shakespeare. On shore, we will delight in behind-the-scenes access to unique places and people made possible by the ESU's network of connections built over a century.
This trip will be the first of our re-imagined Patron tours to destinations and experiences connected to the ESU's history, programs and cultural traditions. You will enjoy traveling with fellow ESU members who share your sense of adventure and intellectual curiosity. And you will find special satisfaction in knowing that a portion of your trip fare will be a charitable contribution to support the ESU's programs.
Dear friends, I am excited about the 2022-2023 ESU calendar of big events. I hope you will be too. I invite you to join in as many of these opportunities as you possibly can. We've stayed home long enough. It is time to reconnect with friends and re-engage in our Union. I look forward to seeing you soon.
With best regards,