For Julianna Portillo-Del Valle from Gulliver Preparatory School, Apr. 23 will be a day to remember forever.
Julianna, a student of Jessica Fox, placed as a semifinalist at the 35th annual National Shakespeare Competition, conducted on William Shakespeare’s birthday, while competing against 55 students from around the U.S. on stage at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater in Lincoln Center as the culmination of a year-long competition hosted by the English-Speaking Union (ESU).
Prior to arriving in New York City for the competition, Julianna wrote:
“Shakespeare for me is about being able to enjoy every single word as you read it, essentially making something meaningful through something someone else created. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact that this sort of event can have on all of us that are competing; it’s pretty exciting.”
To qualify for the National Shakespeare Competition finals, Julianna won the regional ESU Miami Branch Shakespeare Competition on Mar. 19.
Each year, more than 20,000 high school students participate in the English in Action National Shakespeare Competition at the school, regional and national levels through the help of more than 2,500 teachers and 55 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 300,000 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.
The competition brings together renowned actors and members of the theater community to judge the students’ performances.
Among the past competition participants who have gone on to national acclaim are actor and director Joe Sofranko, whose Hulu series Complete Works is based on the National Shakespeare Competition; actors Emily Bergl (Shameless, Desperate Housewives, Southland); Tyler Hilton (Walk the Line, One Tree Hill); Heather Lind (Demolition, Boardwalk Empire, Turn: Washington’s Spies); Bronwyn Reed (Law and Order: SVU), as well as Broadway’s Matt Harrington (Twelfth Night, Matilda) and Adam Wesley Brown (Once the Musical).
For additional information regarding the English in Action National Shakespeare Competition, visit www.shakespearecompetition.org.