students qualify for ESU National Shakespeare competition final

Wednesday June 2, 2021

Just before half term, Concord’s Drama teacher, Miss Orlagh Russell announced the exciting news that two Concord students have made the national final of the ESU Shakespeare competition. The English-Speaking Union (ESU) hosts an annual Shakespeare-themed educational competition, where secondary school students nationwide read, analyse, perform and recite Shakespearean monologues and sonnets. Since 1983, the competition has engaged more than 360,000 young people, and approximately 2,500 teachers and 20,000 students in nearly 60 ESU Branch communities participate each year. From the initial qualifying rounds earlier in 2021, 160 performance pieces were submitted to the ESU – and Form 4 students, Caelyn and Vidhi were ‘delighted’ to reach the finals, taking place remotely via Zoom on 25th June. Caelyn and Vidhi worked together on their duologue from Macbeth, rehearsing across different time zones via teams, to convincingly portray the characters of Macduff (Caelyn) and Malcolm (Vidhi). Speaking of their success and the performances of all 12 Concord entrants, Miss Russell said: “I am thoroughly proud of all the students, learning how to perform Shakespeare can be incredibly difficult. “The group handled the process with such an infectious, positive energy and a maturity that I would expect from much older students. “It’s worth noting that students only had a very short amount of time to prepare their entries, through some very unusual and difficult circumstances.” She added: “I sincerely mean this when I say, it was a pleasure to work with the group.” “Congratulations to Caelyn and Vidhi for reaching the Grand Final – this is a wonderful achievement of which you should be very proud. “It’s exciting to announce that Martha and Flori also had entries selected for the Judges’ Commendation Award.” The students involved have benefitted from critical thinking, close reading, and public speaking experiences – with the added variation of online delivery, in a challenging year. For the final, students will take part in an online workshop lead by professional actors. They will then perform their duologue live in front of 5 industry professional judges, before awaiting the final verdict. Good luck Caelyn and Vidhi! For Lower School students interested in continuing an exploration of Shakespeare, please contact Miss Russell to discuss the possibility of a LAMDA exam using Shakespeare.