Shakespeare Monologue Competition
for Students Grades 6-9

March 12 , 2007
1:00 Arrive at Imagination Stage
1:15 Warm-Up for All Contestants
1:30 Monologue Competition

Imagination Stage, Bethesda, MD
(click here for directions and parking information)

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Guidelines for Coordinators

The purpose of the Middle School Monologue Competition is to encourage students to explore the plays of Shakespeare from the perspective of the actor and to go beyond the academic study of his texts. This competition will help them to approach his works as works to be seen and experienced as well as read. Students should approach the competition as an opportunity to explore one of Shakespeare's characters psychologically, physically and emotionally and then to make those elements clear to the audience using the actor's tools. Participants also need to recognize that what makes the works of Shakespeare an exciting challenge is the text itself; the language can be quite dense, full of words or ideas that seem unfamiliar. Students need to find the means to activate the character by using the language, the meter, and verse with energy, clarity, and specificity.

We hope that as you integrate competition-related initiatives into your curriculum, you'll find ways to benefit entire classes rather than confining your offerings solely to after-school activities in which only a few students take part. We've learned that festivities that culminate during a general assembly ordinarily provide the most rewarding experience and elicit the greatest amount of enthusiasm.

As you prepare for this year's competition, you should be cognizant of the following guidelines.

  • If more than one student is interested in participating, a school must first hold its own competition. The school competition should be judged, if possible, by at least three qualified observers, to be drawn from teachers, actors, directors, or others in the community who are knowledgeable about Shakespeare.
  • Students must be in the 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th grades and must be permanent residents of the United States. They cannot have received, or be scheduled to receive, payment for a professional or semi-professional acting performance during the school year in which the competition occurs.
  • Each entrant in the competition is expected to select, memorize, and present a Shakespearean monologue, which must be 20 to 25 lines. Monologues usually take about two minutes to perform.
  • Students should speak as naturally as possible, not with an affected or artificial voice, and they should use their normal accent (that is, American speech for most students, rather than, say, a British accent that is not native to them).
  • Entrants may wear clothes appropriate to communicate their role, such as a rehearsal skirt. They may use one prop if the passage they have selected dictates its use.
  • A student's introduction to his or her monologue should be limited to an announcement of the performer's name, school, the play, and the character.

Sponsored by the Center for Renaissance & Baroque Studies, Imagination Stage, the English-Speaking Union, and the Washington Episcopal School.

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