Join | Donate | Volunteer:

Join

Become part of a 5,000+ community which believes that speaking and listening skills are central to personal fulfilment and cultural understanding

Become a member

Donate

One-off or regular donations are vital to our work, helping us ensure that young people everywhere have the oracy skills they need to thrive

Donate

Volunteer

We’re hugely grateful to those who volunteer their time in helping to organise and run ESU programmes and competitions. Find out how you could help

Volunteer

‘We rely on the generous support of our members, donors and volunteers to ensure we can reach those children who need our help most’

Home > Competitions > Performing Shakespeare

‘To perform at Shakespeare’s Globe is a fantastic opportunity’

Competition registration is now closed. Sign up to our mailing list to hear when we reopen and to receive free resources.

Performing Shakespeare

Key facts

  • What: Inclusive, accessible competition allowing students to perform Shakespeare and practise their oracy and drama skills
  • Age: Years 7, 8 and 9
  • Price: £45 per school; subsidies and fee waivers available for schools with high FSMs and EAL
  • When: Heats begin in November, with the grand final in June
  • How: Registration has now closed.

In brief

Our Performing Shakespeare Competition inspires students to express their passion, ideas and imagination through the medium of performance, while simultaneously developing fundamental oracy skills.

From ‘bedazzled’ to ‘scuffles’, Shakespeare was one of the greatest inventors of new words the English language has ever seen. The English-Speaking Union’s Performing Shakespeare Competition encourages Key Stage 3 and home-schooled pupils in England and Wales to discover and share his love of language, inviting them to perform a monologue or duologue from any of Shakespeare’s plays, in whichever way they choose.

Crucially, students must also introduce their performance, thereby enhancing their public speaking and engagement skills.

The competition not only brings to life the Shakespeare study requirement in the curriculum in an innovative and exciting way, but it also enables students to develop their creativity, their confidence and their ability to express themselves – crucial skills for the classroom as well as the wider world.

Schools host the first round internally from November to December – and don’t worry, we’ll provide you with everything you need to help the process run smoothly. Teachers then select their best entries to go through to the branch finals, which take place from February to March. Regional finals are held in May and include a one-hour acting workshop delivered by a professional.

One performance from each regional final progresses to the grand final in June, which will be held at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, and which includes a professionally-led workshop for all competitors. All teachers of students who reach this stage also receive a free, one-hour CPD session delivered by Shakespeare’s Globe. At the grand final there are prizes for the winner and runner-up, as well as the Don Miller Audience Choice Award.

‘Knowing how to express yourself is key to absolutely everything’

Hugh Dennis

Actor, comedian and Performing Shakespeare area judge

Why do it

  • Brings Key Stage 3 national curriculum Shakespeare content to life, helping students to engage more fully with the texts they are studying
  • Focuses on oracy and public speaking skills via the introductory oracy component
  • Supportive, friendly format that builds confidence, oracy and presentation skills
  • Theatre-based professional-led workshops at the regional and grand final rounds
  • Our most accessible competition, boosting social mobility and broadening students’ horizons and opportunities
  • Easy-to-follow judging guidelines for the school rounds
  • Experienced ESU and professional judges at the branch, regional and grand final rounds
  • Regular hints, tips and resources to prepare your students for the competition
  • Builds links and camaraderie with other schools both locally and nationally
  • A prestigious competition across England and Wales, highly motivating for students and the school as a whole
  • A chance to see your students perform on stage

‘The Performing Shakespeare competition is a wonderful way to get Key Stage 3 students involved in expressing themselves through performance. I’ve been able to use it as a foundation for an inter-house competition, which students throughout the school have engaged with keenly.’

Victoria Ward, Teacher at Dame Allan’s School, Newcastle

Sign up here to receive our schools’ newsletter filled with free resources

KEEP IN TOUCH

See the competition in action and watch Toby’s joint-winning performance of a speech from Henry V, Act III, scene i.

April and Luke, left, from Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend won the Don Miller audience choice award for their performance as Katherine and Petruchio (Act II, scene i) in The Taming of the Shrew.

You can watch all the other performances from the final on our YouTube channel.

Hear from Carol Rutter, Professor of Shakespeare and Performance Studies at the University of Warwick, about why the introductory speech is so important, and how to prepare for it.

10,000

students have taken part in the Performing Shakespeare competition since 2017

Find out more

Registration for the 2022-23 competition is now closed. Click here to join the waiting list.

New registrants will receive fortnightly Performing Shakespeare bulletins, with specific information and resources to aid them with the competition.

Questions?

If you have any questions or queries about the Performing Shakespeare competition please email competition@esu.org or call 020 7529 1565.

Additional Shakespeare resources

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has many excellent, free resources for students and teachers who want to access and unlock Shakespeare.

Visit the RSC education website to find out more.

DISCOVER OUR FREE RESOURCES

From games to lesson plans, our bank of resources will help you get your class talking

explore our resources
Share Page