English in Action: The English-Speaking Union

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition 2018-2019

Organizing a School Competition

Register Your School

Register your school for this program with your local English-Speaking Union Branch. 
For a list of participating ESU Branches, click here.  

Pick a Date

The majority of school-wide competitions take place in Fall/Early Winter.  Dates will vary depending on the availability of your venue and any local ESU Branch Competition deadlines and dates.  Note:  ESU Branch Competitions usually take place between January and early March (some exceptions apply). 

Find a Venue

The ideal setting has a raised platform or stage with theater-style seating.  No sound system is required; students are expected to perform without amplification.

Enlist Volunteers

To learn more volunteer positions, click here: Staffing the Competition.
For more on prompters, see Instructions for Prompters in the Competition Handbook.

Sign-up Students

Register students for your in-school event with the School Competition Entry Form.
Resources to advertise the Competition can be found on the Publicity & Promotions Page

Hold Your Event

Have your competition as an individual event or combine it with another program at your school. 
Tip:  Hold it during an assembly period or on a weekday after school

For more instruction, click here:  Instructions for School Competition.

Sample School Competition Schedule

NOTE:  This is only a guide; you can modify it in order to fit your own individual program.

Length of Time


5 minutes

Welcome remarks and explanation of the Competition.  Introduction of the judges and summary of Competition rules/ judging criteria.

3-4 minutes per contestant

Contestant presentations (approximately 3-4 minutes per student).  Judges should take no more than 1 minute for writing notes between presentations.  

15-30 minutes

Contestant presentations end. Judges retire to another room to deliberate.  Presentation of certificates to students onstage.

5 minutes

Deliberations end and judges return to theater/auditorium.  Announcement of winner and runner-up.  Presentation of prizes and any closing remarks.


• Give the school winner a copy of the School Winner Entry Form and Photo Release Form (both supplied by your local ESU Branch). The student and his or her parent/guardian should complete the appropriate sections and sign the photo release.  
NOTE: The Photo Release Form is not required to compete in the Branch Competition.

• Collect the School Winner Entry Form and Photo Release Form from the student. Have the student's teacher complete the Branch Competition Entry Form's Teacher Information Section.

• Instruct the school winner to select a sonnet for their local ESU Branch Competition. Provide
the student with the Instructions for School WinnerSuggested Sonnets List  and its accompanying Suggested Sonnets Packet (if applicable). See the Student Resources Page

• Send School Winner Entry Form and Photo Release Form with copies of the student's
monologue and sonnet selections to your local ESU Branch Shakespeare Coordinator as soon as

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