Two weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, I got a last minute phone call asking if I would be available to judge the 28th Annual English Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition Thursday at the school I’ve been directing theater at this past school year and am currently directing a Spring Shakespeare show, in fact.
Exactly 10 years ago I competed at the same school in the same Shakespeare Competition and never did I think I’d be on the other side of that unnecessarily large table dividing the performer and the judges as a judge myself, complete with pen and clipboard and “esteemed” bio, which is read at the start of the competition. I got to give feedback to all the participants as a “theater professional”. It was surreal. And it was pretty cool.
These past few weeks I’ve been hard at work finding age appropriate, engaging and similarly themed Shakespearean scenes, monologues and sonnets for my cast of 16 high schoolers. It’s been a challenge, to say the least. Fortunately, I have a big fat edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare, which I received as my prize for winning the very Shakespeare Competition that I got to judge!
And the winning monologue this year? Was the very same monologue I had performed that got me to the semi-finals at Marlborough High School, which I won, and then to the Finals at the Downtown LA Public Library, which I won “alternate” (a nice way of saying second place).
What thrilled me most was to see these budding actors get such a wonderful opportunity to perform and cultivate a passion that could eventually wind up as a career- like me.
Life’s fun like that sometimes.