The English-Speaking Union

Education Programs

ESU National Shakespeare Competition

Congratulations to the winners of our 2023 40th Anniversary National Shakespeare Competition! We are so proud of each and every student who competed this year.

In first place, Elena Hollenbeak of the ESU Hawaii Branch.

In second place, Casey Kerr of the ESU Central Florida Branch.

In third place, Nicole Beverly Chien of the ESU New York City Branch.

Read more about the competition

Watch the 2023 National Shakespeare Competition finals here!

See the 2023 Program here!

NEW! Relive the excitement of the 2022 ESU National Shakespeare Competition! 

Click here to experience the 2022 Yearbook

CHECK BACK in JULY for our 2023-2024 Documents & Forms for Updated Handbooks Packets

Below is for Reference Only from 2022-2023



NEW! Resource for Teachers! Free Competition Tool Kit. Includes Turnkey Strategies from Shakespeare's Globe! Tools to help you make your remote competition engaging and fun!


Deadline to hold branch competitions and submit Branch Winner Forms: March 5, 2023.

ESU National will send Branch Champions The 2022 ESU National Shakespeare Competition Winner Packets directly. They must be returned by March 10, 2023.

The competition finals are tentatively scheduled for Monday, April 24th, 2023. Location and times to be decided.

2023 Prizes are expected to be as follows (prizes are subject to change)

1st place: British American Drama Academy Mid-Summer Conservatory Program

2nd place: American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp

3rd place: $1000


About the Competition

The ESU National Shakespeare Competition is a performance-based educational program serving grades 9-12. Since 1983, the competition has engaged more than 400,000 young people. Approximately 2,500 teachers and 20,000 students in nearly 60 ESU Branch communities participate each year.

The ESU National Shakespeare Competition is aligned with modern educational practices. Participating students:

  • practice essential skills such as critical thinking, close reading and public speaking
  • work through all 6 levels of Bloom's taxonomy, from recall to creation, increasing self-confidence through reading, analysis and performance of Shakespeare
  • have multiple points of entry to explore universal themes and are challenged to decode for themselves the complex beauty of Shakespeare's language 
  • work with teachers and peers in a student-centered program of experiential and cross-curriculum learning
  • meet local, state and national standards in English Language Arts and Drama.

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. 

Please click on the appropriate link at left for our handbooks and learn more about the ESU National Shakespeare Competition. 


No branch? We can help!

The ESU is using technology to reach every high school, every teacher, and every student across the United States!

The ESU National Shakespeare competition is now open to all students, nationwide, regardless of location. Using readily available technology like cell phone cameras, schools without a participating local branch of the ESU can join the fun and be eligible to compete in a live finals round via video streaming. Winners of the E-Branch Finals will  compete in the national competition against all our branch competition winners.

Click here to learn more!