The Bard inspires artists at the annual ESU Shakespeare Competition


Madison Hart '24

Sacred Heart students participate in the annual ESU Shakespeare Competition this winter.

Three Sacred Heart Greenwich Upper School students participated in the thirty-ninth annual English-Speaking Union (ESU) Shakespeare CompetitionWhile competing, students utilize critical thinking and public speaking skills to perform a Shakespearean monologue and sonnet.  Senior Angélique Wheeler, junior Molly Kriskey, and freshman Moira Marangi participated in the first round of competition.  Molly and Moira advanced to the Greenwich Branch Competition March 5.

Moira Marangi ’25 performs in The Eumenides.  Courtesy of Sacred Heart Communications Dept.

More than 360,000 students have competed in the ESU Shakespeare Competition since 1983, according to www.esuus.orgApproximately 2,500 teachers and 20,000 students in almost 60 ESU branch districts participate each year.  High school students across the United States analyze and perform  Shakespeare’s words in three qualifying stages.

Miss Michaela Gorman ’05, Upper School Drama Teacher and Director of Drama Productions, commented on what she believes students learn from this competition.

“The ESU Shakespeare competition provides a great opportunity for students to practice their character development and monologue preparation skills,” Miss Gorman said.  “Students examine a piece from a Shakespeare play and analyze that text in order to understand the context and meaning of the moment in relation to the rest of the play.  They then use their skills as actors to find the beats or transitions and infuse the performance with subtext and intention.”

This year, Angélique, Molly, and Moira submitted recordings of themselves reciting their selected monologue and sonnet to volunteer judges from the Sacred Heart English Department.  The committee chose Moira as the winner and Molly as the runner-up.

The Greenwich Branch Competition included participants from local schools, who, again, sent videos of themselves performing excerpts from Shakespeare’s work.  Declan Smith of Conrad High School was the winner of the Greenwich Branch Competition and will advance to the National Shakespeare Competition in New York City, New York April 25.

Molly Kriskey ’23 acts out a script from the play Into the Woods. Courtesy of Sacred Heart Communications Dept.

At the National Shakespeare Competition, winners from each branch will perform their chosen monologues and sonnets for a judicial panel.  Seven to ten students progress to the final round.  Finalists compete for cash prizes and the opportunity to participate in prestigious summer theatre programs.  This year’s national winner will receive a spot at the British American Drama Academy Mid-Summer Conservatory Program.  The runner-up will win a place at the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp.  The recipient of third place will receive a $1000 cash prize. 

Miss Gorman shared her favorite aspects of the competition.  She believes performing facilitates an atmosphere of growth for students.

“My favorite part of the competition is watching students try new things and take on diverse roles,” Miss Gorman said.  “I am so proud of our theatre students, who regularly put their fear aside to take risks and make bold choices in performance, and the Shakespeare competition always provides us with so many examples of that bravery and passion.”

Featured Image by Madison Hart ’24