National Shakespeare Competition

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On Wednesday February 3, Townsend Harris High School held the prerequisite to the National Shakespeare Competition, a nationwide monologue competition geared towards high school students who are not yet established in the acting world.  The winner of this competition, junior Fiona Calberson, will be advancing to the New York Regionals, which will take place on February 22nd. 2016 at the New York Public Library.

Each contestant had to memorize and recite a monologue from one of Shakespeare’s 38 plays. A panel of five judges from our school evaluated the performances: English Teachers Robert Babstock, Joseph Canzoneri, and Jessica Stillman, Assistant Principal of the Humanities Rafal Olechowski, and Principal Anthony Barbetta.

The winner, Fiona Calberson, expressed her enthusiasm for the competition,”Shakespeare’s language is just so wonderful, in this monologue it’s powerful and beautiful and painful all at the same time. That’s genius, and I consider a privilege and an honor to have the opportunity to bring the words to life as best as I can. “

The competition last took place several years ago. Mr Canzoneri chose to revive it this year due to student interest in literature and drama.

Fiona Calberson stated “That kind of raw emotion isn’t easy to portray, you have to reach inside yourself and draw on things that you might not want to revisit, because to truly express pain, you really have to feel it. You have to really dig into the text, the character, the story, where they’ve come from, where they’re going, what they’re experiencing right now.”

Mr. Canzoneri said “The students were impressive, they were passionate, they were ,knowledgeable, they had a clear sense of who their characters were, what the intentions in the speeches were.”

Sophomore Mikayla Nelson, who entered to further her ambition in the performing arts, is a clear example of the passion for Shakespeare. She “absolutely loved the competition” and thought it “allowed [her] to see what she needed help in based on the other contestants”.

Overall, the revival can be seen as a success, there was a good turnout, and all of the contestants we spoke to stated that it was a very enjoyable experience.

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