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The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition 2018-2019

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2018-2019 ESU National shakespeare competition: Sandhills branch

The 36th Annual ESU National Shakespeare Competition: Sandhills Branch will take place on February 16th, 2019 at 3:00 PM at Village Chapel in Pinehurst, NC. The deadline for area schools to register is October 1st, 2018. The deadline for area schools to hold their competition is February 5th, 2019. Contact Bob Roman at romanbob@hotmail.com.

Jenna Does a Terrific Job in the 2017-2018 ESU National Shakespeare Competition

April 26, 2018 — New York City: April 23 may have been a normal Monday for most high school students, but for Jenna Burns from The O'Neal School it will be a day to remember forever. Jenna, student of Michael Norman, placed as a semifinalist at the 35th Annual ESU National Shakespeare Competition on William Shakespeare's birthday while competing against 55 students from around the US on stage at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater in Lincoln Center as the culmination of a year-long competition hosted by the English-Speaking Union (ESU).

Prior to arriving in New York City for the competition, Jenna wrote:

Performing Shakespeare means so much to me. Through it I have met so many great people and ultimately have gained confidence in myself as an actress. I also love how Shakespeare has universal motifs that ring true today. I am looking forward to performing at Lincoln Center and I am very excited to meet people who have a shared love of Shakespeare!

Andrea Burns, Jenna's mother wrote ",it was a wonderful experience. It was very well run and all the ESU members were very kind. It truly is a wonderful organization.  several competitors and their families congratulated Jenna  afterward for an outstanding performance. That says something, about the quality of the participants.  We are very grateful to her teacher, Michael Norman, and the ESU for giving Jenna such a memorable experience."

We are very grateful to her teacher, Michael Norman, and the ESU for giving Jenna such a memorable experience.

To qualify for the National Shakespeare Competition finals, Jenna won the regional ESU Sandhills Branch Shakespeare Competition on February 10, 2018.

More than 140 high school students participate in the English in Action Shakespeare Competition at the Village Chapel.   As part of the competition, students perform a monologue or recite a sonnet from Shakespeare and are judged on their understanding of their selected texts and on their ability to communicate their interpretation to the audience. Through this school-based program, students in grades 9-12 develop critical thinking and speaking skills and increase their self-confidence through the performance of Shakespeare's work.

Since 1983, the English-Speaking Union has given more than 300,000 students of all backgrounds the opportunity to bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and to learn to express his words with understanding, feeling and clarity. The competition has been recognized by the Globe Center, the Children's Theatre Foundation of America and the American Academy of Achievement.

Among the past national competition participants who have gone on to national acclaim are actor and director Joe Sofranko, whose Hulu series Complete Works is based on the National Shakespeare Competition; actors Emily Bergl (Shameless, Desperate Housewives, Southland); Tyler Hilton (Walk the Line, One Tree Hill); Heather Lind (Demolition, Boardwalk Empire, Turn: Washington's Spies); Bronwyn Reed (Law and Order: SVU); as well as Broadway's Matt Harrington (Twelfth Night, Matilda) and Adam Wesley Brown (Once the Musical).

Mark February 16, 2019 on your calendars.   Our next Shakespeare competition will be held at the Village Chapel from 3 to 5 p.m.   This is a program you do not want to miss.  If you have any questions, contact Bob Roman romanbob@hotmail.com.


Through the Shakespeare Competition, students develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature. Students also develop essential skills such as critical thinking, close reading, and public speaking; increase self-confidence through reading, analysis and performance of Shakespeare. They also explore the beauty of Shakespeare's language and classic themes. They bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and learn to express his works with understanding, feeling and clarity.

On February 10th nearly 100 people enjoyed the competition held at the Village Chapel in Pinehurst North Carolina.  Our winner this year was Jenna Burns from the O'Neal School.  Our second and third place winners were John Ambrose from Union Pines High School and Olivia McCue from Pinecrest High School.

Nine high school students from Pinecrest, Union Pines, North Moore and the O'Neal School competed for the opportunity to travel to New York City and compete in the 36th Annual ESU US Shakespeare event on April 23rd, sponsored by our local Sandhills ESU Branch.

Though there were a few seasoned young actors among the nine high school students competing, they didn't have props, costumes or co-stars — just a monologue of roughly 20 lines from one of Shakespeare's works.