News And Events

News And Events

Celebrating Centennial Stories: An evening of Storytelling

June 24, 2021, 4:00 PM CDT

Join us this Thursday, June 24th at 4 pm CDT in Celebrating Centennial Stories: An evening of Storytelling! This will be an exhilarating evening of stories, exploring how, since its founding 100 years ago, the English-Speaking Union has been enriching lives and changing futures. During this special event, we'll be unveiling our new virtual time capsule website, which compiles all submitted ESU stories to the 100 Years, 100 Stories Project. 

The 100 Years 100 Stories project presents a snapshot of the impact and achievements made by ESU's members, volunteers, students, tutors, and anyone ever touched by ESU's programming over the past 100 years. The event will feature an exclusive performance by the Oxford Philharmonic and spotlight the winners of the 'Outstanding Story' Award. We will also be joined by some very special guests, who will be speaking about their enriching relationship with the ESU. 

The ESU Kansas City Branch has submitted three video stories, two written stories, and Kansas City member, Ben Martin, also submitted a written story

The program is free and open to ESU members and the public. Optional donations are also welcome. Your gift will support the design and maintenance of the website and will help underwrite the storytelling competition prizes. Click here for a list of the donation levels and what you will receive for each level of donation. Immortalize your name in the ESU Centennial Virtual Time Capsule by making a donation today.

Be sure to register for this free exciting and historic program of storytelling today.

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ESU Happy Hour

Storied & Scandalous Kansas City—A History of Corruption, Mischief, and a Whole lot of Booze

Guest Speaker: Karla Deel

Friday, May 21 from 6:00-7:00 PM (EDT)

Our next Happy Hour guest speaker is author and publisher Karla Deel. Her book, "Storied & Scandalous Kansas City—A History of Corruption, Mischief and a Whole Lot of Booze," is an in-depth account of how Kansas City operated in its early days with mobsters, bootleggers, madams, political bosses, and raucous entertainers who truly brought the party to the plains even during Prohibition.

Join us for this free Happy Hour program on Friday, May 21, 2021 at 5:00 PM CDT. Happy Hour programs are free but registration is required. Please register here:

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When the ESU Kansas City Branch was founded in 1920, Kansas City was one notorious and scandal-ridden town. Karla will tell the storied history of Kansas City—the Paris of the Plains. You'll witness the best parades, the wackiest costumes, and the wildest scams. Kansas City's sordid underbelly is full of surprises sure to delight and entice—the odd, macabre, and delightful.

Don't miss this behind-the-scenes look at Kansas City in its early days. We will have a door prize drawing for her book, "Storied & Scandalous Kansas City." Read More.

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ESU Happy Hour

ESU Happy Hour:

Best-Selling Author: Joby Warrick

Red Line: A True Life Thriller

The true story of the most daring disarmament feat of modern times.


ESU's next Happy Hour features best-selling author and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Joby Warrick who has written the true story of the most daring disarmament feat of modern times. Join ESU members and Friends on Wednesday, May 12 at 3:00 pm for this fascinating ESU Happy Hour program. It's a free online program but registration is required.


Warrick's story is a  character-driven narrative with a cast of heroes and villains, including weapons hunters, politicians, doctors, diplomats, and spies. Drawing on astonishing original reporting, Warrick reveals how the United States embarked on a bold adventure to prevent one catastrophe but could not avoid a tragic chain of events that empowered America's enemies. Read more.

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ESU Happy Hour

Shake Up Shakespeare

Guest Speaker: Carol Ann Lloyd

Our next Happy Hour program features Carol Ann Lloyd—a speaker, educator and writer who shares English history and Shakespeare with a broad audience across the US and abroad. She takes a fresh look at Shakespeare's works and presents them in a way anyone can appreciate his literary talents. Join us on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 3:00 pm (CDT). It is a free program but registration is required.

For more than 400 years, Shakespeare and his plays have been part of our lives. From the playhouses of the sixteenth century to the American Wild West, and from formal theatres to high school festivals, Shakespeare's stories have resonated around the world. Shakespeare created worlds our of words that continue to inform and shape our language and our culture. Read More.

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Winners Announced for 2021 National Shakespeare Competition

Adapting to the ever-changing circumstances brought on by the global pandemic, the English-Speaking Union hosted the 38th annual National Shakespeare Competition virtually for the second time ever. We are proud to announce the winners of the year's competition held on April 26, 2021.


Delilah Delgado of the ESU San Diego Branch won 1st Place with her quick witted and thorough renditions of Phoebe from As Your Like It, and Sonnet 62. Her sponsoring teacher, Samantha Howard of the Bishop's School, will receive the $1000 Teacher Recognition Award. This is the second such award recipient since the award's founding last year.

Anna Sheehan of the ESU Boston Branch took 2nd Place. Her sponsoring teacher, Barbara Whitlock of Montrose School, will receive the $500 Teacher Recognition Award. 

Samuel Christian of the ESU Los Angeles Branch won 3rd place. His teacher, Elizabeth Dennehy of Los Angeles County High School for the Arts will receive the $250 Teacher Recognition Award. Read More.

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ESU Happy Hour

Chaucer: A European Life
Author Marion Turner
April 21, 2021, 3:00 PM CDT

In her talk, Marion will be discussing the extraordinary life of Geoffrey Chaucer, a man who lived through the worst pandemic humanity has ever seen and made his way in the world in a time of radical change.

A merchant's son, prisoner of war, diplomat, MP, and pioneering poet, Chaucer lived through rebellions, usurpation, and conflict. While past biographers have often focused on Chaucer's Englishness, he was, in fact, a great internationalist.

Marion will talk about his journeys all over the continent, his innovative use of European poetry, and his life in cosmopolitan fourteenth-century London, a place where spices from as far afield as Indonesia were on sale. This is the story of one of the most unusual and brilliant imaginations in literary history. This ESU Happy Hour is a free program but registration is required. Read More.

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Kansas City’s 37th Annual Virtual Shakespeare Competition Program

We are excited to announce the First, Second and Third-Place winners of the Kansas City Branch's 37th Annual Shakespeare Competition. Don't miss our virtual program on April 21 at 5:00 pm which will include the videos of the seven students' performances at this year's Competition and live commentary from the judges. Everyone is cordially invited to this April 21 free virtual program, but registration is required. You are encouraged to register now.

Register Here

Seven students submitted video entries which were judged by our distinguished judges, Sidonie Garrett, Executive Artistic Director of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Melinda McCreary, Director of Education and Community Programs at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, and Mark Robbins, a professional actor and director with more than 170 professional roles to his credit. The judges have selected our winners:

First Place winner is Aliyah Pullin from Olathe South High School. Lauren Hannon is the sponsoring teacher. Second Place winner is Sofia Hughes from Blue Valley High School. Maureen Davis is the sponsoring teacher. Third Place winner is Maggie Herber from Shawnee Mission South High School. Her sponsoring teacher is Mark Swezey. Read more.

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Vote for Your Favorite Shakespeare Competition Performer

Deadline to Enter: April 23 at 11:00 PM (CDT)


Let's keep the fun going and support our Kansas City Branch winner! A $1,000 People's Choice Award will be awarded to one lucky student.

 Click here to watch the video performances of 39 students who entered the 2021 National Shakespeare Competition. As you watch each of the students perform, be sure to watch Aliyah, she is #17.

 How to join in the fun:

 1. Click on the link above to see performance videos from all of our branch champions on the 2021 ESU National Shakespeare Competition YouTube Channel. Each performer has been assigned a number.

 2. Using your mobile phone, text "NSC" and the number of your favorite performance to 212-818-1200 (example: NSC17)

 3. Remember to watch our Kansas City First Place Winner: #17 Aliyah Pullin. She had an amazing performance!

You will receive a return text confirming that your vote has been received. Read More.

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ESU Happy Hour

Are you Using English Correctly?
The Art of Rhetoric and Prose
April 14th, 2021 at 5:00pm CDT

ESU Boston Vice-President Roger Stacey interviews Ward Farnsworth, author of "Classical English Style", on the rhetorical figures that can make words more emphatic, memorable, and effective. This interview will explore the timeless principles of rhetoric from Ancient Greece to the present day, drawing on examples in the English language of consummate masters of prose, such as Lincoln, Churchill, Dickens, Melville, and Burke.

This is a free Happy Hour program, but registration is required. Read more.

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ESU Kansas City Branch Announces 10 Schools in 37th Annual 2021 Shakespeare Competition

The ESU Kansas City Branch is pleased to announce that ten area high schools have entered the 2021 Shakespeare Competition. This year will be the first that the ESU Kansas City Branch is holding a virtual Shakespeare Competition due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each winner of a school competition will record a performance of a monologue from one of Shakespeare's plays and one of Shakespeare's sonnets, and three Kansas City Branch judges will view those videos to select the Branch winner to represent the Kansas City area in the ESU national competition. In 2020, the ESU national competition used this video format for the first time.

Congratulations to these schools and their teachers for their perseverance, and best of luck to all of the students competing in their school competitions

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