The Actor Speaks Competition



Calling all ESU National Shakespeare Competition participants! The ESU seeks to build upon the educational experience of our performance-based program with a unique essay-writing competition. Through The Actor Speaks, the ESU invites you to delve into the intricate process of bringing Shakespearean characters and sonnets to life on stage, based on your personal experience with the 2024 NSC program.  

As an NSC participant, you have spent considerable time over the 2023-2024 school year studying and performing Shakespearean monologues and sonnets on the school, regional, and even national levels. The ESU is interested in how you approached the process of preparing for this national competition and the methods you used to interpret, analyze and perform Shakespearean texts with depth and authenticity. 

In a 500 – 700 word essay, we ask that you describe your personal educational journey beginning with monologue/sonnet selection, through studying and understanding the text, to experimenting with different performing styles and rehearsing for your stage performances. Essays should address such topics as:

What drew you to the play/character/or sonnet you chose to learn and perform?

How did you approach understanding the character’s motivations and emotions?

Did you draw inspiration from historical context, personal experiences, or other sources?

How did you approach the challenge of embodying a character from a centuries-old play in a way that connects with a modern audience?


Essays will be judged based on originality, clarity of expression, and relevance to the theme.



Deadline to submit is Saturday, June 29, 2024 (midnight)

Winners will be announced on or before July 31, 2024




Prizes include:

1st Place – $300 cash prize

Runners Up

2nd and 3rd place winners will receive gift certificates from 

Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers in NYC 




Made possible by a grant from the Achelis & Bodman Foundation


For more information contact ESU Manager of Shakespeare Programs, Maryellen Liotta at