esu devlin starkPHOTO:  Devlin Stark (of Red Bank), with ESU President Ralph Wyndrum (of Fair Haven) and ESU Secretary and Shakespeare event coordinator Janet Smuga (of Middletown) presenting the certificate and cash prize. 

RED BANK, NJ — Devlin Stark, student of  Mary King from Red Bank Catholic in Red Bank achieved first place at the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition Monmouth County Branch tournament on March 10th. Devlin will travel to New York City along with more than 50 other contestants from around the country to participate in the ESU National Shakespeare Competition at Lincoln Center Theater in New York on April 23, 2018.  

Shea Grant earned second place, and Christianah Akinsanmi was awarded third place in the Monmouth County Branch competition. Each student performed a Shakespearean monologue of their choice and recited a sonnet. Competitors were judged on their understanding of their selected texts and on their ability to communicate their interpretation to the audience. Judges for the Branch Competition included Kate Cordaro from the Two River Theater, Samantha Giustiniani from the Count Basie Theater, John Bukovec from the Brookdale Community College theater department, and Jamie Brink, a theater teacher.

“Devlin chose a challenging speech, Queen Anne’s address to Richard III over the corpse of her husband, whom Richard had killed,” said Competition Coordinator Janet Smuga.  “She presented it with both passion and dignity. We wish her luck at the National competition on April 23rd.”

esu shakespeare groupPHOTO:  Competitors at ESU Shakespeare Competition, March 10

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is a performance-based education program in which high school students nationwide read, analyze, perform, and recite Shakespeare’s works. Through the program, students develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature. In the Competition’s three progressive levels, students perform in their own schools, at ESU Branch community competitions, and at the National Shakespeare Competition at Lincoln Center Theater in New York City. Since 1983, more than 300,000 young Americans of all backgrounds have taken advantage of this opportunity to bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and learn to express his words with understanding, feeling, and clarity.

Devlin Stark, as the winner of the ESU Area Branch competition will travel to New York City to represent the Branch in the ESU National Shakespeare Competition at the world-renowned Lincoln Center Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater on April 23, competing with more than 50 other winners from Branch competitions nationwide. On stage, each will perform a monologue and sonnets before a panel of distinguished judges as well as their fellow contestants. Based on their performances, seven to ten students will advance to a final round. Those finalists, performing their selections along with a cold reading of a monologue, compete for the first place award, which is an all-expenses-paid scholarship to attend the Young Actors’ Summer School for two weeks at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. For additional information regarding the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, please visit www.shakespearecompetition.org

Founded in 1920, The English-Speaking Union is a non-profit, non-political educational organization that employs English as a catalyst to foster global understanding and good will through educational and cultural exchange programs. The ESU carries out its work through a network of 58 Branches nationwide along with affiliates in the United Kingdom and 60 other countries. For additional information about the English-Speaking Union, please visit www.esuus.org.  For details about the ESU Monmouth County Branch or to join the Branch please visit https://www.esuus.org/monmouth/ or look for ESU Monmouth County NJ Group on Facebook.