English Speaking Union 2021 Competition
The English Speaking Union is a national organization that employs English as a catalyst to foster global understanding and goodwill by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members. The Monologue and Sonnet competition provides an opportunity for high school students to test their oration and acting skills at the school, branch, and national level for the opportunity to win scholarships and international training opportunities.

from Joshua Murphy! 
Contact us ASAP for any assistance you may need. 
Schools can enter 1 student per 1000 students (in student body) by March 5th, 2021. 
(Schools with fewer than 1000 students, may submit 1 semi-finalist)
Home Schoolers deadline is March 5th, 2021 and has a separate adjudication from the schools
Finalist will be chosen and announced on March 6th, 2021
About the Annual Competition:

The ESU National Shakespeare Competition is a performance-based educational program serving grades 9-12, or ages 14 – 18 years old. Since 1983, the competition has engaged more than 360,000 young people. Approximately 2,500 teachers and 20,000 students in nearly 60 ESU Branch communities participate each year. High school students nationwide read, analyze, perform and recite Shakespearean monologues and sonnets in three qualifying stages: school, ESU Branch and national.

The ESU National Shakespeare Competition is aligned with modern educational practices.

Participating students will:

  • practice essential skills such as critical thinking, close reading and public speaking
  • work through all 6 levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, from recall to creation, increasing self-confidence through reading, analysis and performance of Shakespeare
  • have multiple points of entry to explore universal themes and are challenged to decode for themselves the complex beauty of Shakespeare’s language
  • work with teachers and peers in a student-centered program of experiential and cross-curriculum learning
  • meet local, state and national standards in English Language Arts and Drama.

The ESU National Shakespeare Competition has been recognized by the Globe Center (USA), the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America and the American Academy of Achievement. 

New for 2021:
  • The ESU National Shakespeare Competition Finals will take place remotely following the same format it did in 2020. It is our hope that the competition can return to a live format once it is safe to do so. Please contact us if you need to use SSC Video equipment and Facilities at 255 S MacDonald Mesa, AZ 85201 by appt only with one driver and one coach.
  • Branch and School Competitions: Recorded Competition
    • Same format as 2020 National Semi-Finals. Students upload a video to YouTube and provide a link on the school winner form.
  • Send us a Youtube video link to [email protected]
  • NO FEE to enter this Prestigious 2021 ESU Competition with its high stakes awards and prizes!

     2021 Prizes are as follows (due to COVID there is a possibility of delayed/substituted prizes)

  •      1st place: British American Drama Academy Mid-Summer Conservatory Program
  •      2nd place: American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp
  •      3rd place: $1000 
Rules and Eligibility
Follow this link for all the rules, regulations, and criteria


The selections that contestants perform must meet the following criteria.


Students must select their monologue from the 2021 Monologue Packet (COMING SOON), provided by the ESU.

No alterations may be made to the monologues. They must be performed as written in the packet.The packet has been updated for the 2020-2021 season and now includes OVER 250 monologues from 120 characters in all 38 plays. The selections offer a variety of monologues, of 15 to 22 lines a piece; students may select whichever monologue they prefer, regardless of gender.  Selections have been taken from the Folger Digital Texts resource (folgerdigitaltexts.org).


Sonnets must come from Shakespeare’s 154 sonnet cycle. These are all listed in the 2021 Sonnet Packet (COMING SOON) and are available at folgerdigitaltexts.org.

Student Handbook

Documents and Forms

Polish up your Sonnets/Monologues
$100 for 45 minutes with Josh to aid your student(s) to review and receive Sonnets and Monologues Pointers
$600 in depth SSC Residency with Joshua Murphy teaching basic Shakespeare and more in depth Preparation and practicing Monologues and Sonnets.

Video Tips from Joshua Murphy

Click on the link below and get expert recording tips from SSC’c Core Company Member, Joshua Murphy.