News And Events

Registration Begins for Kansas City Area
High Schools in 36th Annual
Shakespeare Competition

All Kansas City area high schools are invited our 36th annual Shakespeare Competition. The Competition is open to all high school students grades 9-12. Homeschool students are also welcome to enter. If you are a Theatre, English, Forensics or Debate teacher, we encourage you to enter your school in this exciting competition.

We provide all the necessary resources to begin the competition in your classroom. It then progresses through three qualifying stages:

  • Ninth through twelfth graders are eligible to participate in a school-wide competition.
  • Your school's first place winner then advances to a competition held at the Kansas City Plaza Library branch on February 16, 2020.
  • Branch winners will travel, all expenses paid, to New York City to compete in the National Finals tentatively set for April 27, 2020.

In 2019, finalists performed on the stage at the world-famous Lincoln Center Theater. Past national winners have received scholarships to the Young Actor's Summer School at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and to the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp in Staunton, Virginia, as well as cash prizes. To learn more about this exciting, educational program online, please visit

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. The Competition has engaged more than 360,000 young people since its inception in 1983. Approximately 2,500 teachers and 20,000 students in nearly 55 ESU Branch communities participate each year.

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.

If your school hasn't taken part in our competition, we hope that you will consider offering this exciting, educational opportunity at your school this year. To past participants we extend our deep appreciation for your dedication, to both your students and to this program. We look forward to working with you to make 2020 our best competition ever!


"There is nothing like being surrounded by passionate and like-minded individuals of your age whom all have a devotion to performing Shakespeare. This competition through The English-Speaking Union allows each performer to not only present personally chosen monologues and sonnets but also to absorb and learn from the work of their peers."

---Lucy Mulholland, First Place Winner, 2018 Kansas City Branch Shakespeare Competition

I love watching these kids perform Shakespeare with all their heart and soul. The talent of the KC students is impressive. Going to New York is simply the cherry on top of this wonderful opportunity to participate in the ESU Competition.

---Maureen Davis, Theater Teacher, Blue Valley High School

Again, the easy way to learn more about the Competition and enter your school is:

Please contact Deborah McArdle at (913) 492-8753 or with any questions.

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.


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