News And Events

Matthew Grigoratos Performs in Semi-Finals
in 36th Annual National Shakespeare Competition
in New York City

April 29th may have been a normal Monday for most high school students, but for Matthew Grigoratos, a Junior at Blue Valley High School, it will be a day to remember forever. Matthew, a student of Maureen Davis, placed as a semifinalist at the 36th Annual National Shakespeare Competition.

Matthew competed against 52 students from around the US on stage at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center Theater. The event is the culmination of a year-long competition hosted by the English-Speaking Union (ESU).

To qualify for the National Shakespeare Competition semi-finals, Matthew won the regional ESU Kansas City Branch Shakespeare Competition earlier this year.

Veteran judge and acclaimed actor Dana Ivey commented on the student performances,

"I am always amazed by the delight and focus these students bring to their investigation of the text. They often bring surprises in interpretation that are entertaining and enlightening."

Matthew's family attended the Competition in
New York City. Back row (L to R) Bonnie Hughes,
Willian Grigoratos, John Poor. Front, Jeff Schnabel,
Matthew and Sarah Poor.

Jeff Schnabel, ESU Kansas City Branch and National Board member, attended the National Competition in New York City and watched Matthew's performance of Shylock from The Merchant of Venice and his recitation of Sonnet 102. Schnabel noted, "Matthew's monologue from The Merchant of Venice captured the full emotion and understanding of Shakespeare's play. It was a real pleasure to watch Matthew on stage at Lincoln Center."

To qualify for the National Shakespeare Competition semi-finals, Matthew won First Place at the ESU Kansas City Branch Shakespeare Competition on February 24 at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

The English-Speaking Union provided the semi-finalists who traveled to New York from around the country with two days of educational and cultural activities, including an exclusive acting workshop by the Dean of BADA, Eunice Roberts, and a tour of New York City. Perhaps best of all for Matthew was the opportunity to spend time with other students from across the country who share a love of the English language and, particularly, Shakespeare.

Deborah McArdle, ESU Kansas City Branch's Vice President and Shakespeare Competition Coordinator, commented, "We are so proud  Matthew represented the ESU Kansas City Branch in New York at the National Competition. Each year, we see the students display an unbelievable understanding of the works of William Shakespeare. In unique ways, the contestants bring Shakespeare's words to life by voice, movement and overall interpretation. Additionally, we thank our committed teachers who give so generously of time and talent."

53 Students from ESU Branches all over the U.S. gather in the center of Lincoln Center. The competition was held at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre in Lincoln Center, on Monday, April 29, 2019.


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