News And Events

Kansas City Area High School Students to Compete in 34th Annual Shakespeare Competition

The Kansas City Branch of the English-Speaking Union announces its 34th annual Shakespeare Competition for all Kansas City metro area high schools, grades 9-12. The Branch Semi-Finals will be held at the Plaza Library, 4801 Main St., Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday, February 25, 2018.

The Competition provides teachers with a performance-based program for the study of English Language Arts and Shakespeare. High school students recite Shakespeare's monologues and sonnets and compete for the chance to win a trip to New York City to compete in the ESU National Finals at Lincoln Center.

Through the Competition, students develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature. The Competition has engaged more than 300,000 young people since its inception in 1983.

Through the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, students:

  • develop essential skills: critical thinking, close reading and public speaking
  • increase self-confidence through reading, analysis and performance of Shakespeare
  • explore the beauty of Shakespeare's language and classic themes
  • bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and learn to express his words with understanding, feeling and clarity
  • meet local, state and national standards in English Language Arts and Drama.

Students read, analyze, perform and recite Shakespearean monologues and sonnets in three qualifying stages: at the school, community and national levels. Approximately 2,500 teachers and 20,000 students in nearly 60 ESU Branch communities participate each year.

The First Place winner of the ESU Kansas City Branch Competition receives $150, a full scholarship to Shakespeare Exploration, a conservatory-styled camp for teens offered by the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, and an all-expense-paid round-trip to New York City to compete in the ESU National Shakespeare Competition on April 23, 2018, at Lincoln Center as well as other group activities in New York City.

The First Place National Winner receives a full scholarship and airfare to London, England to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Young Actor's Summer School. The Second Place National Winner receives an all-expenses-paid scholarship to attend the American Shakespeare Centre's Theatre Camp in Staunton, VA. The Third Place National Winner receives $500.

Two previous Kansas City winners have won First Place in the National Shakespeare Competition in New York and one Kansas City winner won Second Place in the National Competition.  In 2017, our Kansas City First Place winner, Trevon Wainwright from Paseo Academy, won Third Place in the National Shakespeare Competition held in New York City. The ESU Kansas City Branch is one of 55 Branches competing in the National Shakespeare Competition in New York City at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2018.

Deborah McArdle, ESU Kansas City Branch's Shakespeare Competition Coordinator, commented, "We are pleased to have some new schools that have never been in the Competition as well as schools who have participated for many years. The Competition is a valuable teaching tool and gives students the opportunity to develop better communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature."

All high schools in the Kansas City metro area are invited to participate in the Shakespeare Competition. To learn more and register for the Competition, please click here. You may also contact Deborah McArdle at (913) 492-8753 or

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. Many distinguished judges have served on the Competition panels.


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