CHS Freshmen Compete in Shakespeare Competition - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Islander Times News

CHS Freshmen Compete in Shakespeare Competition

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Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014 4:46 pm

Nerves ran high for the more theatrical members of the freshman class on April 30 as finalists graced the CHS stage to compete in the culminating round of the annual Shakespeare competition.

Every freshman at CHS is required to participate in an annual competition which involves performing a memorized monologue from a Shakespearean play. Some teachers required their students to perform a monologue from Romeo and Juliet, while other teachers allowed their students to select a monologue from any of Shakespeare’s many plays. During the first round of the competition, freshmen performed their chosen piece in front of their English class. The English teachers then selected a winner from each class who went on to compete in the final round on April 30, where the stakes were much higher as competitors performed in front of the entire freshman class.

Reactions to the competition vary greatly among the freshmen. CoSA student Nicole Sollazzo reported, “I was not very nervous to perform in front of my classmates,” while her peer Kris Leslie admitted that he was “a little terrified.” Although Leslie may have battled nerves on the day of his performance, his preparation paid off when he won his class’s competition. Kris sought, apparently successfully, to bring a personal connection to his performance, searching for “a monologue that I could really find emotion in and something that applied to me that I could relate to, not entirely through experience, but just something that really touched my heart and that really helped me bring out emotion and bring out the quality of the monologue that I had.”

In an era when many lament funding cuts that have reduced education in the arts, the study of Shakespeare is very much alive and well at Coronado High School. Not only do all CHS freshmen participate in this annual event, but Coronado School of the Arts Musical Theater and Drama students spend their entire sophomore year studying the work of the Bard. In addition, every CoSA Musical Theater and Drama student participates in yet another annual Shakespeare competition, performing both a monologue from a Shakespearean dramatic work as well as a sonnet. Notably, four CoSA students have won the prestigious English Speaking Union Shakespeare Competition. Winners of this regional event are awarded an all-expenses paid trip to New York City where they compete in the National Shakespeare Finals at the Lincoln Center.

“I think this is an amazing event and is a tradition that the school should keep doing for years to come,” enthused creative writing teacher and competition organizer Kimberly Strassburger. No doubt many upperclassmen will have mixed emotions as they recall their own experiences performing Shakespeare in front of their peers in English class and perhaps in front of their entire class in the school theater. Regardless of their personal experience, this competition is a great way to make the works of William Shakespeare easily accessible to all high school freshmen.

Ultimately, Freshman Angela Ahern won the 2014 Shakespeare Competition. According to English Teacher Jean Pehrsson, Ahern was awarded a $100 gift certificate to the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. “I discussed Angela’s performance with my classes and colleagues, and we all agreed that she was very wholehearted. She really gave it her all,” said Pehrsson. Ahern, who has been acting since age nine, performed Cleopatra’s monologue “Think You Such a Man” from Antony and Cleopatra. “I felt elated when I won. It was such a great honor to be chosen against all of my peers,” she said.

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