News And Events

All The World's a Stage for Home Schooled Teen

Honolulu, February 20, 2016 – Ari Dalbert, a student of Eden Lee Murray, won the Hawaii segment of the 2016 English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition.  Erica Ito, a student of Paul Palmore at Punahou School, took second place. Chandler Bridgman, a student of Robert St. John at Le Jardin Academy, was awarded third place. Ari had already won the school level Shakespeare competition among home-schooled students coordinated by Eden Lee Murray in Honolulu.  The ESU Branch competition was held on February 20, 2016 at the Luke Auditorium in Punahou School's Wo International Center in Honolulu, and 20 school winners from the ESU Hawaii area participated, including one student from Maui, one from Kauai, and three from Hawaii Island. All participants were awarded single volume editions of the complete works of Shakespeare and complimentary tickets to upcoming performances in the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival season and the spring production of the Hawaii Theatre Young Actors Ensemble. In addition to monetary awards, the top three finishers each received six free tickets to Hawaii Shakespeare Festival's summer season and DVDs of Kenneth Branagh's Henry V. Ari impressed the judges and captivated the audience with his performance of Edmond from King Lear and his recitation of Sonnet 116.  He will go on to represent the ESU Hawaii area as a semi-finalist at the national competition to be held on Monday, May 2, 2016 at Lincoln Center in New York City. Ari also won the Hawaii competition in 2014 and placed among the top ten finalists at Lincoln Center that year.

Ari will be awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for the final stage of the competition, which this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.  He also receives two full days of educational and cultural activities, including an exclusive acting workshop at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and a visit to the William Shakespeare statue in Central Park.  Perhaps best of all for Ari will be the opportunity to spend a weekend with other Branch winners from across the country who share his love of the Bard and his works.

Ari will be competing for amazing opportunities this summer.  The first place winner of the national competition receives a full scholarship to study acting in Shakespeare's homeland, England (transportation, housing and food included).  Last year, Sarah Spalding of Mid-Pacific Institute was the national winner and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art's Young Actors Summer School in London.  The second place winner received an all-expenses-paid scholarship to attend the American Shakespeare Centre's Theater Camp inStaunton,VA. The third place winner received $500 from The Shakespeare Society. 

The judging panel at the National Competition consists of actors, directors, Shakespeare scholars and educators.  Past judges have included Andre Braugher, Kate Burton, Maurice Charney, Blythe Danner, Barry Edelstein, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Edward Herrmann, Dana Ivey, Kristin Linklater, Peter MacNicol, Jesse L. Martin, Cynthia Nixon, Tina Packer, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nancy Piccione, Phylicia Rashad, Christopher Reeve, Louis Scheeder, Richard Thomas, Courtney B. Vance, Sam Waterston, Dianne Wiest, Gene Wilder and Irene Worth.

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is a performance-based education program in which high school students nationwide read, analyze, perform and recite Shakespearean monologues and sonnets.  Through the program, students develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature.  In three progressive competition levels, students present the Bard's works in their own schools, at ESU Branch sponsored community competitions and at the National Shakespeare Competition.  Since 1983, the program has given more than 250,000 young people of all backgrounds the opportunity to bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and learn to express his words with understanding, feeling and clarity. ESU Hawaii has been part of the competition since its inception.

The English-Speaking Union of the United States is a non-profit, non-political educational organization, whose mission is to celebrate English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, teachers and its members.  The ESU carries out its work through a network of 70 Branches and affiliates in the United Kingdom and 60 other countries, sponsoring a variety of language and international education programs. To join The English-Speaking Union, visit or call 212-818-1200.


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