On February 2, 2023, Merion Mercy Academy held its annual celebration of Shakespeare by inviting students to compete for the National Shakespeare Competition. Sponsored by the English-Speaking Union, 2023 is the 40th anniversary of this performance-based educational program serving grades 9-12. Participants read, analyze, memorize, perform and recite Shakespearean monologues and sonnets in three qualifying stages: at the school, community (Branch) and national levels. This year, Casey Fosbenner ‘24 will represent Merion Mercy in the Philadelphia Branch competition on February 13 at the Museum of the American Revolution.
At the Branch competition, contestants will present their sonnets and monologues, then judges will select finalists. The top 10 students will then prepare and present a cold reading of an additional Shakespeare monologue to determine the top three finalists.The top three winners receive scholarship checks ($1,500, $1,000 and $500) and medals. According to MMA English teacher and department chair Patricia Sack, MMA students have won the regional competition multiple times; “I think more than five times in 25 years.” She shares this fun fact: “One of our school winners presented her monologue in public at Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon during a school trip!”
The first place winner of each Branch competition advances to the national competition held in New York City at Lincoln Center. First prize is a scholarship to attend the British American Drama Academy Mid-Summer Conservatory Program. Second prize is a scholarship to attend the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp; and third prize is $1,000.
Merion Mercy’s other Shakespeare competitors this year were Addison Pollard '26, Alex Segreti '25 (runner up), Jada Boose '24, and Sylvia Barnes '23.