Thirty-first annual high school student Shakespeare Competition

The English-Speaking Union (ESU) held its thirty-first annual high school student Shakespeare Competition at Greenwich Library’s Cole Auditorium February 25. Twenty-four students competed in the event, including Convent of the Sacred Heart senior Miranda Falk and sophomore Elizabeth Bachmann.

Sacred Heart held a preliminary school competition February 4 in order to select students to attend the statewide competition at Greenwich Library. The preliminary competition required prospective participants to memorize and perform Shakespearean monologues of no more than 20 lines.

Sacred Heart Middle and Upper School Drama Teacher Miss Michaela Gorman, English and Journalism Teacher Ms. Matilde Larson, and Upper School English Teacher and Director of the Sacred Heart Center for Research, Teaching and Learning Mrs. Linda Vasu served as the judges of Sacred Heart’s six Upper School participants. They announced Elizabeth as the winner and Miranda as the runner-up. Elizabeth and Miranda’s performances in the Sacred Heart competition earned them each a spot in the state competition.

Senior Miranda Falk at the thirty-first annual Shakespeare Competition. Alana Galloway '16
Senior Miranda Falk recites one of Lady Anne’s monologues from Shakespeare’s play Richard III at the thirty-first annual Shakespeare Competition.
Alana Galloway ’16

“I have wanted to participate in the competition for a couple of years now, but never got around to auditioning,” Miranda said. “As a senior, I decided that I may as well try before I leave high school and don’t have the opportunity anymore.” 
The 24 contestants traveled from across Connecticut to attend. Each student competing was required to perform one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and a monologue from one of Shakespeare’s plays. Elizabeth recited Sonnet 133 and one of Isabella’s monologues from Measure for Measure. Miranda performed Sonnet 29 and one of Lady Anne’s monologues from Richard III. The performers came from 11 different schools, presented monologues from 19 different Shakespearean plays, and each delivered a different sonnet.

“The competition was one of those things where you get really nervous leading up to it, but also really excited,” Miranda said. “Everyone was so good. It was so cool to see what everyone could do.”

Westport Country Playhouse Director and 2013 Connecticut Critics Circle Award winner Mr. Mark Lamos, award-winning director and Broadway actor Ms. Susanna Frazer, and Broadway film actor Mr. Stephen Bogardus judged the 24 performances and chose four winners.

The 24 high school participants at the thirty-first annual Shakespeare Competition. Alana Galloway '16
The 24 high school participants at the thirty-first annual Shakespeare Competition.
Alana Galloway ’16

They presented Greenwich High School student Oliver Prose, who performed Sonnet 20 and a monologue from Richard III, an honorable mention. Saint Luke’s student Malcolm Joung placed third with his reading of Sonnet 17 and monologue from Much Ado About Nothing, and Greenwich High School student Carly Polistina placed second with her rendition of Sonnet 141 and reading of one of Hermione’s monologues from The Winter’s Tale. The first place winner was Ben Swimmer of ACES Education Center for the Arts, who performed Sonnet 34 and one of Henry’s monologues from Henry V.

Ben Swimmer was selected to compete in the ESU’s National Shakespeare Competition. The event will take place April 25 at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. The ESU will award the national winner a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Young Actors Summer School in London, according to