Annual Shakespeare Competition at Utah Shakespeare Festival

Published: September 30, 2015 | Author: Kami Paul | Read Time: 2 minutes

Shakespeare CompEvery year, over 3,000 students from 110 schools travel to Southern Utah University to compete in the annual Shakespeare Competition hosted by the Utah Shakespeare Festival. From October 1st to the 3rd student thespians from across the Intermountain West will compete as actors, dancers, musicians, and theatre technicians before panels of theatre, dance and music professionals in the 39th Annual Shakespeare Competition. 

"It remains the largest academic Shakespeare competition in the United States with over 110 participating schools from 5 states," said Michael Bahr, Festival education director. "Professionals from all over the nation provide foundational instruction for these students as they perform their own interpretations of Shakespeare’s work."

Competitors range from sixth grade to high school seniors. Each participating school is invited to prepare up to three monologues, two duo/trio scenes, and an ensemble scene, as well as an interpretive dance, minstrel and madrigal music, and several presentations in technical theatre. Performing on Festival stages and in many classrooms on the SUU campus, students are adjudicated by professional in the field.

Every year high school students put together a dance piece, either a duet/trio or ensemble piece, based on Shakespeare’s text, sonnets or poems. The choreography can be in any style, however it must be concert or performance dance. Dancers are adjudicated based on the use of space, rhythmic and timing, dynamics, technical ability and originality of the piece.

Stewart Shelley, from Pleasant Grove High School spoke of the transformation his students go through as they prepare and compete. “I have watched students go from “I don’t really get Shakespeare” to “When can I do more Shakespeare? I can’t get enough!” The feedback provided by the professional company actors is “invigorating for the students” in their development as actors and readers. Shelley continues: “As an educator, this competition is one of the best opportunities available to help my students make colossal amounts of progress right at the beginning of the school year.” Shelley concluded that “I get to reap the benefits of their experience for the rest of the year, and it makes all the difference.”

The Shakespeare Competition is dramatically increasing their online and social media presence this year in order to engage students and increase communication during the competition. Visit their Twitter feed at @UTShakesComp, Instagram at @shakespearecomp and their Facebook page at to see updates and changes about the competition.

The event schedule can be found by vising

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