Contributed by The English Speaking Union

April 29th may have been a normal Monday for most high school students, but for Arden Adams from Mount Vernon Presbyterian School it will be a day to remember forever. Arden, student of Clark Taylor, placed as a semifinalist at the 36th Annual National Shakespeare Competition celebrating William Shakespeare’s birthday while competing against 50 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, Arden won the regional ESU Atlanta 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.”

Each year, more than 20,000 high school students participate in the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition at the school, regional and national levels through the help of more than 2,500 teachers and 53 ESU branches nationwide. As part of the competition, students perform a monologue and recite a sonnet from Shakespeare and are judged on their understanding of their selected texts and on their ability to communicate their interpretation to the audience. Through this school-based program, students in grades 9-12 develop critical thinking and speaking skills and increase their self-confidence through the performance of Shakespeare’s work.

Since 1983, the English-Speaking Union has given more than 325,000 students of all backgrounds the opportunity to bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and to learn to express his words with understanding, feeling and clarity. The competition has been recognized by the Globe Center, the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America and the American Academy of Achievement.

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