English in Action: The English-Speaking Union

Education Programs

National Shakespeare Competition

National Shakespeare Competition

Students, teachers and high schools are invited to join us for the 2018 Competition.   

Watch the videos from the 2017 National Competition, held on Monday, May 1.

About the Competition

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition provides teachers across the country with a performance-based program for the study of English Language Arts and Shakespeare. It is a school-based program serving Grades 9-12. Through the Competition, students develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature. The Competition has engaged more than 300,000 young people since its inception in 1983.

Through the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, students:

  • develop essential skills: critical thinking, close reading and public speaking
  • increase self-confidence through reading, analysis and performance of Shakespeare
  • explore the beauty of Shakespeare's language and classic themes
  • bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and learn to express his words with understanding, feeling and clarity
  • meet local, state and national standards in English Language Arts and Drama.

Students read, analyze, perform and recite Shakespearean monologues and sonnets in three qualifying stages: at the school, community and national levels. Approximately 2,500 teachers and 20,000 students in nearly 60 ESU Branch communities participate each year.

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. Many distinguished judges have served on the Competition panels.

Branch competition dates are listed below. Schools should consult the links to find their branch's registration deadline and instructions.


2018 Competition Date

Phoenix February 24
Tucson March 3
Desert (Palm Springs) March 2
Los Angeles March 4
San Diego February 5
San Francisco March 3
Denver February 11
Greenwich March 8
Delaware February 3
District of Columbia
Washington, D.C. March 19
Central Florida February 26
Fort Lauderdale February 24
Jacksonville February 10
Miami-Dade-Monroe March 19
Naples February 24
Palm Beach February 25
Atlanta February 11
Savannah February 26
Hawaii March 3
Chicago February 28
Indianapolis February 18
Kentucky March 4
New Orleans March 4
Boston February 24
Kansas City February 25
St. Louis February 3
New Jersey
Monmouth County March 10
Princeton February 25
New York
Albany February 4
New York City March 9
Niagara Frontier (Buffalo) February 24
Rochester March 4
Syracuse March 10
North Carolina
Charlotte February 8
Colonial NC February 24
Greensboro February 10
Research Triangle February 16
Sandhills February 10
Cincinnati March 3
Cleveland February 24
Columbus February 11
Oklahoma City January 25
Tulsa January 25
Portland February 17
Central Pennsylvania February 17
Philadelphia February 26
Rhode Island
Rhode Island February 25
Memphis March 1
Nashville March 3
Austin January 9
Dallas February 24
Houston February 3
Charlottesville February 10
Lexington January 20
Southwest Virginia February 3
Seattle March 4