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Antaeus’ First On-Line Shakespeare Monologue Competition

Our ten semi-finalists!

Antaeus’ First On-line Shakespeare Monologue Competition for L.A. Middle and High Schools

Christopher Morrison, Education Coordinator

We all find our love for theater somewhere. I didn’t “find” mine, it found me. My sophomore year of high school an amazing teacher tossed me into a Twelfth Night scene; Shakespeare grabbed a hold and still hasn’t let me go. So you can imagine my feeling of pride last Saturday when ten high schoolers took the Antaeus stage to perform for our 2010 ShakesAlive! Monologue Competition.

But that isn’t the beginning of this story. Back in November a few Antaeus Arts Ed Committee members and I visited four schools, 16 separate classrooms, reaching out to over 600 kids to talk about performing Shakespeare. At the end of each class we announced the competition to the students, encouraging them to enter the first round of the contest: posting a video of their monologue online. Antaeus Ensemble members then gathered to view all of the 34 entries, narrowing them down to ten semi-finalists. These ten were invited to the theater on December 4th to for coaching and to perform their monologue for their families and guests as part of the competition.

The day started with a group warm-up led by Arts Ed Committee Chair, Janellen Steininger. Right away the students’ fierce love and commitment to theater was evident. Then, these vibrant young actors performed their monologues for our five coaches: Rob Nagle, Kitty Swink, Larry Pressman, Robert Pine and Allan Miller. After a little nosh, each coach was paired with two students to work on their material for an hour. The coaches wasted no time and had kids on their feet right away, taking them through their paces, breaking down each piece and providing critique from a professional vantage point.

At 3:00pm, company members, friends of Antaeus, the contestants’ friends, family and — most importantly — the judges, filled the theater. Our esteemed panel of judges, all who donated their time, just as the coaches did, included: Jeanie Hackett, Harry Groener, Tony Amendola, Robert Machray and Simon Helberg. Once the lights went down, the students presented their monologues.  All the performances had grown from the coaching sessions and everyone was up to the challenge of performing for this impressive audience.  After the last monologue the judges retired to deliberate a grand prize winner while the contestants got the chance to mingle with the crowd and receive well-deserved accolades.

The judges were impressed with the level of ability and understanding present in every performer. Eventually they decided that two contestants had tied for the winner of the grand prize! Along with awarding a second and a first runner up, the judges awarded TWO grand prize winners. Every contestant received a copy of the play that their monologue was from as well as a certificate of entry. In addition, the second runner up received $25.00, the first runner up $50.00 and the two grand prize winners each won $200 AND an Arden edition of Shakespeare’s Complete Works.

Once the decisions had been made, the judges took the stage to offer praise and some further guidance for the performers, and hand out awards. Afterwards, in true Antaeus manner, all were invited into the library for a reception featuring cupcakes, eggnog, and hot cider.

I could not be happier to be involved with Antaeus’ continued commitment to reach into our community to inspire our love of the classics in the next generation of performers.

Here is all our wonderful semi-finalists from the competition.

Grand prize winner: Audrey Corsa

Crossroads High School/10th/Joan of Arc, Henry VI, part I

Grand prize winner: Matt Kelly

Oak Hills High School/10th/ Shylock, The Merchant of Venice:

1st Runner up: Ben Rudy

LACHSA/11th/ Sebastian, Twelfth Night

2nd Runner up: Donna Hossenzadeh

LACHSA/11th/Brutus, Julius Caesar

Jahanavi Aithal, LACHSA/10th/Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Cameron Covell, LACHSA/10th/Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Frankie Garces, LACHSA/10th/Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Nina Hossenzadeh, LACHSA/10th/Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Grae King, LACHSA/10th/Hermione, The Winter’s Tale

Miranda Rizzolo, The Buckley School/12th/Juliet, Romeo and Juliet

To watch all the entries to the competition please go here:


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