On Sunday, March 9, the LA campus of the New York Film Academy played host to the LA Branch of the English Speaking Union, for its 28th annual high school Shakespeare competition. Six finalists competed before a panel of distinguished film and theatre professionals in the Academy's Riverside theatre before a cheering audience of family, friends, teachers and patrons, for a chance to perform at the ESU National finals at New York's Lincoln Center in April.
The six finalists were Carlos Camacho (Ramon C. Cortines School for Visual & Performing Arts); Clement Dexter (St. Monica Academy); Avery Girion (The Marlborough School); Kathleen Glynn (Los Angeles Senior High School); Emma Rothenberg (Westridge School); and Alex Thorland (New Roads School). They were chosen from 23 participants from the greater Los Angeles area two weeks earlier in a semi-final competition held at the Marlborough School in Hancock Park.
Winning top prize was Emma Rothenberg from the Westridge School in Pasadena (shown in photo with drama teacher Laurie Riffe). Runner up Avery Girion, from the Marlborough School, was awarded a tuition scholarship to NYFA's Advanced Acting summer camp for High School students this July.
Judges for the Finals competition included Tony-nominated actress Roxanne Hart; actor, director and Golden Globe nominee Philip Casnoff (who teaches acting at the New York Film Academy); actress, director and Manhattan Marymount College Emeritus Professor Elizabeth Swain; and actress and ESU-LA Board member Kara Hume.
Shakespeare scholar Louis Fantasia, Dean of the Faculty at NYFA/LA, serves as President of the Board of the LA Branch of the English Speaking Union, which is part of a network of 68 branches throughout the US dedicated to global understanding and educational out-reach.
Said Fantasia, "I was very happy to wear both my NYFA and ESU hats at the same time to help make this wonderful competition a success. I'm thrilled that we could show NYFA's world class facilities to the participating students, teachers and patrons of the ESU, and equally thrilled that NYFA could help spread the word not only about Shakespeare in schools, but also about the wonderful work the ESU does in education in Los Angeles and across the US."
The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.
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