News And Events

News And Events

A Visitor’s Perspective on Cuba in Transition

Guest Speaker: ESU Kansas City Member Ben Martin

Presented in Partnership with The International Relations Council

Cuba sits a mere 90 miles off the U.S. coast, but few from the mainland have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the nuances of Cuba's history, culture, and relationship with the U.S. Join Ben Martin, board member of IRC organizational member The English-Speaking Union, Kansas City Branch, as he reflects on observations and lessons he gleaned from his 2016 visit to this Caribbean nation in transition.


Explore this fascinating trip to Cuba through the eyes of Ben Martin on Tuesday, December 7 at 6:00 pm CST. This is a free program in partnership with the International Relations Council of Kansas City as part of their Global Experience Series of programs. Please register below. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the program on December 7.

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About Ben Martin

Ben Martin taught and directed speech and theatre in Missouri high schools for 34 years before retiring in the spring of 2010 from the Lee's Summit School District. He served many years on the Boards of Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri (President 1987), Missouri State Thespians and the national board of the Educational Theatre Association. Martin is an active advocate for arts education programs, and served as Executive Director for the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education until he re-retired in July, 2020. He continues as the State Advocacy Captain for Americans for the Arts. Ben is currently on the Board of Directors of the English-Speaking Union Kansas City Branch.

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ESU ARNIC Thanksgiving

The ARNIC and English in Action community will share the warmth and spirit of the Thanksgiving season together. Students, alumni, teachers, tutors and all ESU members and Friends of ESU are invited to attend this free event.

Our Thanksgiving Celebration will be online on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at 4:00 pm CST. Join us for a joyous day of gratitude, warmth, and community.

This will be an interactive event with opportunities for you to connect with other members of the ARNIC and ESU community. It will feature speeches by students, alumni and teachers. This free event will be held using Zoom. Please register here:

Register Here

In preparation for the event, we want to hear from you. There are two ways that you can contribute your voice to our event:


Send us a recipe

Across the world, food is an important way to bring people together. We want to share some of the recipes from our community. We invite you to submit a recipe from your culture. We will organize all submitted recipes into a community cookbook, which we will share during the holidays. Share your recipe (or recipes!) here!

Express your gratitude

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are thankful or grateful for. We want to hear what you think! Let us know what you feel thankful about here. We will share a word cloud with everyone's answers during the event.

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Charles Dickens' London and The Spirit of Victorian Christmas

Dr. Annamaria Dall'Anese

Join us for this special ESU Happy Hour event live from London, England. This is a program for the whole family. Bring the little ones with you and watch as Dr. Annamaria Dall'Anese gives us a Dickens Christmas tour in London. The fun starts on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 3:00 pm CST.

It is said that writers need a muse to overcome their writer's block. Charles Dickens' muse did not have flowing hair or an ethereal countenance, but solemn churches, heart-warming pubs and dainty cottages: it was London. In this virtual tour, we will visit the sites where the ever-popular novelist lived, as well as the places he frequented in his tireless search for picturesque characters. Bring a warm blanket and a hot drink as we discover how 'the magic lantern', as Dickens called London, shone even brighter at this time of the year, and how the Christmas traditions we know today were shaped by the great Victorian writer. This is a free ESU Happy Hour program but registration is required. 

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About Dr. Annamaria Dell'Annese

Dr. Annamaria Dell'Annese works as a Blue-badge guide of London, where she conducts private tours to show domestic and international clients both the most iconic landmarks and the hidden gems of the British capital. Prior to settling in Britain, she lived in over a dozen countries over four continents, where she had the opportunity to develop her passion for the arts and foreign languages. Besides sharing her knowledge of the history of London with her visitors, Annamaria is completing her second self-published book.

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Virtual Evelyn Wrench Speaker Program

As a "kickoff" event to the revitalization of the Evelyn Wrench Speaker Series, the English-Speaking Union has the honor of hosting Lord Charles Spencer as he discusses his new book, The White Ship. This is a free virtual program, but registration is required.

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Described as "Game of Thrones meets The Titanic," The White Ship has been a UK non-fiction bestseller in the London 'Times' for 3 months for its riveting storytelling of the disastrous shipwreck that claimed the life of King Henry I's only legitimate heir, William, and the subsequent challenges of Henry I's only legitimate daughter, Empress Matilda, as she struggled to claim the throne.


In this lecture, Charles Spencer will take the audience on a spectacular journey into the past, exploring the historical consequences of The White Ship's ruin. There will be an audience Q & A session to follow the lecture.


About Lord Charles Spencer

Charles Spencer was educated at Eton and obtained his MA in Modern History at Oxford University. He is a historian, journalist, and the author of eight non-fiction books, including three Sunday Times bestsellers-- Blenheim: Battle for Europe (2004) (shortlisted for History Book of the Year, National Book Awards), Killers Of The King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I (2015), and The White Ship.


Spencer worked for NBC News as an on-air correspondent from 1986 to 1995, primarily for the Today show, but also for Sunday Today, NBC Nightly News, and NBC Super Channel.

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The Questionable Identity of William Shakespeare Lecture

 by: Dr. Felicia Londré

The question may be met with chagrin by traditionalists, but to some, the identity of William Shakespeare is not positively decided. Dr. Felicia Hardison Londré, Ph.D, presents a thought-provoking analysis on the Shakespeare authorship question

This free lecture program, titled "The Questionable Identity of William Shakespeare" will be held on Monday, October 25 at 4:00 pm on the UMKC campus.

Location: Bloch Executive Hall, 5110 Cherry St., Kansas City, MO. Main floor. Room 00213. Next door to the UMKC Student Union.

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ESU Happy Hour

Rusty Kanokogi and The History of Women's Olympic Judo

Rusty Kanokogi may not be a household name—yet—but in the world of competitive judo, she is one of the most renowned unsung heroes of the past hundred years.

Join us for this dynamic, online Happy Hour presentation on November 3, 2021, at 3:00 pm Central Time. Happy Hours are free but registration is required. Read More.

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Annual Virtual Conference

Join Our ESU Annual Virtual Conference

Join us October 15th - 17th for our 2021 Annual Conference! This year we're celebrating "A Union for All Seasons: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future - Members and Programs in the Next Century." The Annual Conference is free to join, though a $50 donation is suggested.

We will be honoring the great people who have carried our organization through the century, with spotlights on such formative figures as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Margaret Thatcher, and Winston Churchill. We hope you'll join us!

Click here for the schedule of events each day and to register for the Conference. 

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An ESU KC Rep Group Night:

Ghost Light: A Haunted Night of Songs and Stories

Our next ESU Outdoor Group Night is Sunday, October 10, 2021, at 7:00 pm. This is quite different from our last KC Rep Group Night. It's a multi-media program described as a  hybrid concert and ghost story event that weaves together local storytellers and musicians who share frighteningly fun tales from KC's cultural crossroads that will leave you shaking with excitement! You won't want to miss Kansas City's favorite new Halloween tradition.

It will be outdoors, under the stars on the South Lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Your family and friends will be transported into the world of spirits, hauntings, and the great unknown. Music will be provided by Latinx rock'n'rollers Enrique Chi and Juan-Carlos Chaurand of KC's very own Latin Grammy-nominated band Making Movies as featured performers!

Just like the last KC Rep outdoor event—BYOC—Bring Your Own Chair, so please bring a blanket, beach towel, or lawn chairs with you. Concessions will be available for sale including a coffee bar, wine, and homemade cookies. Patrons are welcome to bring food and drink. Masks must be worn over the nose and mouth at all times unless you are seated and eating or drinking.

When: Sunday, October 10, 2021, at 7:00 pm

Where: South lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Bring: Your own chair or blanket, bring food, snacks, drink if you wish

Tickets: $30 non-reserved seating. Click here to purchase tickets. for the October 10 performance.

Arrive: Please arrive about 60 minutes before play begins to get best seating. Look for me. I'll try to save an area for our group if we can.

Parking: Free street parking on either side of the Nelson-Atkins Museum. If you are a member of the Museum, you may park in the Museum's garage for free

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ESU Happy Hour

Learn About Appraising Antiques

Robin Sinclair: ESU Member and Professional Appraiser

Everyone has that piece we wonder about. Maybe it came from grandmother, maybe it was found at an estate sale, maybe it was found in the trash, but wherever it came from, there are three questions about it: What is it? How do you know?  What's it worth?  This ESU Happy Hour will answer those three questions about YOUR PIECE! 

Don't miss this special online ESU Happy Hour on Wednesday, September 29 at 5:00 pm Central Time. It's a free program but registration is required.

Register Here

As an antique appraiser with thirty years of experience,  Robin (Susan) Sinclair, Ph.D., will be looking at and evaluating pieces submitted by our members in photographs and written descriptions.  A veteran of many appraisal fairs, she has also appeared on Nashville Public Television numerous times. She will do a discussion of as many objects as possible within our time frame, so please submit your objects early!  (Please submit by the 20th of September.)  She will also show us what an appraisal is, what an appraisal is not, (very important), and how value is determined. Read More.

Submit Objects for Appraisal

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ESU Festival Group Night a Free Production of The Tempest

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival had to cancel their summer production of The Tempest at Southmoreland Park this year because of Covid concerns. But the good news is Heart of America Shakespeare Festival has teamed up with the Conservatory Division of UMKC Theatre and will produce The Tempest live, on-stage at the Spencer Theatre on UMKC's campus. And, best of all, admission will be FREE, with donations gratefully accepted at the door.

ESU members and friends are invited to attend The Tempest. We have selected Friday, September 24 at 7:30 pm to attend as an ESU Festival Group Night. However, we may not be able to sit together as a group due to social distancing.

Spencer Theatre Safety Requirements:

Audience seating will be socially distanced and audience members must be masked throughout the performance.

Tickets are free but registration is required so audience size can be managed.

To register for your ticket(s) click here then select September 24, then click on "Tickets" then "Register" with your name and email address. Your free ticket(s) will be emailed to you. After registering, please call or email Jeff Schnabel so we have a list of those attending and we can look for you when you arrive. (816) 878-1239, email: Read more.

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