by Keaghan Kane
Not everyone who claims the title of “writer” is well-read. I’ve always been horrified by the number who declare their disdain for all things classical—Dickens and Shakespeare being the foremost on this lengthy list.
This year, I had the chance to participate—as I did last year—in a Shakespeare recitation competition, put on by ESU-US. Each competitor must memorize and dramatize 20 lines or less of a Shakespearian monologue, along with one of his sonnets.
I chose to perform Katherina’s monologue from the final scene of The Taming of the Shrew, followed by Sonnet 90. At the local competition—which was judged by three judges, including Ms. Sherry Perkins—I did my best to convey Katherina’s fiery character. Apparently, I did suitably well, for I gained first place and a chance to advance to the state level.
The state level competition was held at Tulane University in New Orleans. This time, I found myself performing in a real theatre, complete with stage and lights. The trick to the ESU-US competition is that you are not allowed any props or costuming—it is just you, on the stage, trying to convince the audience that you are a character and that there are others around you.
With a storming presence and loud voice (affected slightly by my dry throat and nerves,) I put on my performance of Katherina. I was one of 15 competitors at the state level, but when I seated myself after my presentation, I knew I had done my utmost.
I gained second place in the state for my performance. Pleased and content, I left the university with my family amidst the congratulations and compliments of my fellow competitors and the judges.
To my fellow writers, I say this: don’t be afraid to stretch your reading tastes. There are so many classical authors who were masters in their craft. Yes, Dickens might be a little long-winded, Hugo a bit philosophical, Shakespeare a bit complex in his humor. Yet a little effort to understand and appreciate their work will enhance your own craft so very much.
After all, every learner—every apprentice—must have a master, or they will never truly learn their craft.
To learn more about this competition: http://www.esuus.org/programs_shakespeare_competition.htm