Elizabeth Hix, Senior at Olathe South High School, Takes First Place In ESU Shakespeare Competition

For an unprecedented third year in a row, a student from Olathe South High School, Olathe, Kansas, captured First Place in the 28th annual Shakespeare Competition sponsored by the Kansas City Branch of the English-Speaking Union.
 
 
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Feb. 29, 2012 - PRLog -- For an unprecedented third year in a row, a student from Olathe South High School, Olathe, Kansas, captured First Place in the 28th annual Shakespeare Competition sponsored by the Kansas City Branch of the English-Speaking Union.  Elizabeth Hix, a senior at Olathe South, impressed the judges and captivated the audience with her performance of Viola from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and her recitation of Sonnet No. 147.  Carmen Ortiz from Piper High School, Kansas City, Kansas, won Second Place and Mark Carlson from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Overland Park, Kansas, won Third Place.  185 Kansas City-area high school students performed in ESU Shakespeare competitions at their schools this year.  The Kansas City Branch competition was held Sunday, February 26, in the Truman Forum Auditorium at the Kansas City, Missouri Public Library, Plaza Branch and seventeen school winners from the Kansas City area participated.  Upon request, an interview with the winning student and her teacher may be arranged.  Photos of the winners are also available.  Please contact Jeff Schnabel.

Elizabeth will go on to represent the Kansas City Branch as a semi-finalist at the National competition which will be held on April 23rd (Shakespeare’s birthday) at Lincoln Center in New York City.  Two previous Kansas City winners have gone on to win the National Shakespeare Competition in New York.  Another Kansas City winner won Second Place National Winner.

Ms. Hix will be awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for the final stage of the Competition, where she will be able to perform onstage at a world-renowned performing arts center.  The ESU National Headquarters will also provide her with two full days of educational and cultural activities, including an acting workshop at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, participation in World Book Night and a visit to the William Shakespeare statue in Central Park.  Perhaps best of all for Elizabeth will be the opportunity to spend a weekend with 57 other Branch winners from across the country who share her love of the Bard and his works.

The First Place Prize package from the Kansas City Branch consisted of a check for $150.00, an engraved First Place Winner Medal and the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival awarded her a full scholarship to their Shakespeare Exploration Advanced Camp in Kansas City.  

Elizabeth will be competing for amazing opportunities this summer in both the United States and aboard.  The first place national winner receives a full tuition scholarship to study acting in Shakespeare’s homeland, England; this year the national winner will attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’s Young Actors Summer School in London.  The second place national winner receives a full tuition scholarship to attend the American Shakespeare Centre’s Theater Camp in Staunton, VA.  

Olathe South High School teacher, Vicki Kohl, was the lead sponsoring teacher and part of a team of three teachers who helped coach Elizabeth in her role of Viola.  The other two coaches were Cathy Smith and David Hastings.   Ms. Kohl and Ms. Smith are co-chairs of the English Department and Mr. Hastings is the head of the Theatre Department at Olathe South High School.  Ms. Kohl, who has BA and MA degrees from Kansas State University, also sponsored the two previous years’ First Place winners from Olathe South.  Ms. Kohl’s training includes participation in the National Endowment for the Humanities Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance Institute.

Daniel Bukovac, ESU Kansas City Branch’s Director of the Shakespeare Competition, selected three highly qualified judges for the local Shakespeare Competition.  All three are well-known and respected in Kansas City’s performing arts community.  The judges:

Laurie Ellinghausen
Laurie is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, specializing in Renaissance and early modern literature, including Shakespeare.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of California-Santa Barbara.  Her research treats the myriad ways in which social hierarchies are represented and re-imagined in the literature of the English Renaissance, a highly volatile period that witnessed sweeping historical changes.  Her book, Labor and Writing in Early Modern England, 1567-1667 (Ashgate Press, 2008), brings shifting discourses of class and occupation to bear on the emerging institution of professional authorship.  Laurie is developing, in collaboration with Dr. Joan Dean, “The Shakespeare Institute,” a continuing education course that focuses on the teaching of Shakespeare in secondary and post-secondary schools.

Sidonie Garrett
Sidonie is the Executive Artistic Director of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.  Prior to joining the Festival, she worked as a freelance director.  Her experience working with new plays took her to New York City, where she directed the off-off-Broadway production of Thanatos.  For the Shakespeare Festival she has directed many plays, including The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Merry Wives of Windsor, Othello, King Richard III, and Macbeth.  This summer Sidonie will direct, with Assistant Director, Todd Lanker, both of the Festival’s productions – Anthony and Cleopatra and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Sidonie has also directed productions at The Coterie (including The Macbeth Project and the U.S. premiere of After Juliet), the American Heartland Theatre and The Unicorn Theatre, where she will direct Time Stands Still in March 2012.

John Rensenhouse
John is a Kansas City-based actor who has performed major roles at many Shakespeare Festivals around the country, including Kansas City’s Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Alabama Shakespeare and the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival.  His notable roles for the Festival in Kansas City include Antony in the upcoming production of Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth in Macbeth, Caesar in Julius Caesar and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing.  John has toured nationally with the Broadway productions of The Lion King and Noises Off and was once a regular on The Edge of Night.  In February 2012, he directed the Kansas City Actors Theatre’s production of Billy Bishop Goes to War.  John is the President of Actor Theatre’s board of directors.

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is a performance-based education program in which high school students nationwide read, analyze, perform and recite Shakespearean monologues and sonnets.  Through the program, students develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature.  In three progressive competition levels, students present the Bard’s works in their own schools, at ESU Branch sponsored community competitions and at the National Shakespeare Competition.  Inaugurated in 1983, the program has given more than 250,000 young people of all backgrounds the opportunity to bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and learn to express his words with understanding, feeling and clarity.

The English-Speaking Union is a non-profit, non-political educational organization, whose mission is to celebrate English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, teachers and its members.  The ESU carries out its work through a network of 70 Branches and affiliates in the United Kingdom and 60 other countries, sponsoring a variety of language and international education programs.  For more information on the ESU, go to www.esuus.org .  For local Kansas City membership information, contact Jeff Schnabel: esukc@kc.rr.com.
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Source:Jeffrey Schnabel
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