Elias Owens, a senior and student of Regina Darling from Penfield High School, was awarded second place overall at the English-Speaking Union’s National Shakespeare Competition held on April 23.
This national event, conducted at the Lincoln Center, brought together 55 regional winners from across the country to perform works of Shakespeare in front of an esteemed panel of judges. Owens earned a spot in the finals with his rendition of Parolles’ speech on virginity from “All’s Well that Ends Well” as well his recital of “Sonnet 29”: “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes.” His cold reading in the pressure-packed finals won him second place.
Owens competed in the national event by virtue of earning first place in the 28th annual Rochester Shakespeare Competition that was conducted in March 2018 at the University of Rochester. The local competition is conducted under the auspices of the Rochester chapter of the English Speaking Union. This is one of 55 regional events held across the country, involving some 20,000 students and 1,500 teachers. By winning the Rochester event, Owens was awarded an all-expense trip to New York City to compete in the national event. This is the first time in the three-decade history of the Rochester Shakespeare Competition that its winner was one of the national finalists. In taking second place in the national event, Owens was awarded a coveted spot, and full scholarship, for the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp, a two-week intensive theatre program held in Staunton, Virginia, for select students.
Owens is planning to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music starting this fall.
The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is a performance-based education program in which high school students nationwide read, analyze, perform and recite Shakespeare’s works to develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature. Since 1983, more than 300,000 young Americans of all backgrounds have taken advantage of this opportunity to bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and learn to express his words with understanding, feeling and clarity.