About Us & Activities

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition 2018-2019

2019 poster

2018-2019 ESU National Shakespeare Competition

Welcome to the 2018-2019 ESU National Shakespeare Competition! Here is everything you need to begin the competition at the school and branch levels.

About the Competition

The National Shakespeare Competition provides teachers across the country with a performance-based program for the study of English Language Arts and Shakespeare. It is a school-based program serving Grades 9-12. 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 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.

Letter to Educators

Dear Educators,

We're excited to announce that the registration form for the 2019 English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is live! Please use this link to register your school.

We'll get the bad news out of the way first...

You'll see something new on the form- there is $75 registration fee per school. This is the first time that the ESU has been forced to charge a fee. We wish this could have stayed free forever, but the reality is that we need your support. Here are some facts we'd like you to know:

  • The English-Speaking Union, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, relies on charitable contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations.

  • Without the generosity of our sponsors, we could never have made the competition the success it's been for 36 years. And now we're turning to you as well.

  • The competition has always run at a deficit and these costs increase each year. More is spent on prizes, fees, honorariums, venue rentals, competitor travel, meals, and marketing materials than comes in.

  • 100% of every fee paid goes toward the competition itself - both for this year's expenses and to guarantee the viability of the competition for years to come.

  • Since 1920, The English-Speaking Union of the United States has employed English as a catalyst to foster global understanding and good will through educational programs for students, teachers, immigrants and lifelong learners.

  • Teachers are the heart of the competition. We wish that the paperwork, hassle and cost didn't rest on you, but we know that year after year, it's you that makes the competition happen. We respect your time and effort. We thank you. And that's why we needed to reach out, inform you of what was happening, and most importantly, let you know that we will never waiver in our commitment to educators like you!

Now the good news!

Schools with a demonstrated financial need or an inability to pay will still be able to participate and are encouraged to register. For 2019, the ESU and its branches are offering scholarships to schools that show need. No school will be excluded.

We understand the struggle educators face in this financial climate. We respect your time and appreciate that resources are limited. This is why your $75 fee does more than just register you for the competition.

Extra Benefits:

Participating schools will receive ESU National Institutional Memberships that cover all teachers. Extra benefits of this include:

  • Discounts of up to 50% on our TLab Professional Development Sessions in the U.S. Check out our latest PD featuring a Shakespeare's Globe practitioner direct from London. And remember that all our PDs offer contact hours and CTLE credits!

  • Professionally designed materials to help promote your school competition.

  • Exclusive access to ESU Teacher and Student Webinars

And the best part is that this ESU National Institutional membership covers ALL your teachers so that your school can participate in our programs as a community.

We included a notice about the fee in our handbook when it was published in August, but many teachers have only learned about it now. For this, we apologize. The ESU strives to remain an asset and a supporter of teachers across America and we hope you will join us to make the 36th ESU National Shakespeare Competition the best one yet.

Documents & Forms


2019 Monologue Packet

2019 Sonnet Packet

Rubrics & Evaluation Forms:

Teacher Handouts:

Sample Memos:

Press Releases (Coming Soon)

Posters (Coming Soon)

2017-2018 ESU National Shakespeare Competition Results 

Click to read a list of the results.

Click to watch videos of the student performers.

Click to read the 2017-2018 press release.

Click to download the 2017-2018 competition program.


2018-2019 ESU National shakespeare competition: Niagra Frontier/Buffalo branch

The 36th Annual ESU National Shakespeare Competition: Niagra Frontier/Buffalo Branch will take place on March 2nd, 2019 at 10:00 AM, location TBD. The deadline for area schools to register is February 20th, 2019. The deadline for area schools to hold their competition is March 1st, 2019. Contact Al Franco at afranco@starpointcsd.org.