Junior at Olathe (Kan.) Northwest High School Wins 2013 Kansas City ESU Shakespeare Competition

Kansas City, MO, February 19, 2013—Wyatt McCall from Olathe, Kansas, a student of Robin Murphy at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas, won the Kansas City regional event of the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition. McCall had already won his school’s Shakespeare competition at Olathe Northwest. The ESU Branch competition was held on February 17, at the Plaza Library branch in Kansas City, MO. Fourteen school winners from the Kansas City metro area participated. McCall impressed the judges and captivated the audience with his performance of King Richard III from the play Richard III and his recitation of Sonnet No. 61. He will go on to represent the Kansas City branch as a semi-finalist at National competition, which will be held on April 22nd on stage at Lincoln Center in New York City. Gabrielle Rehor, a senior from Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Shawnee, Kansas, won Second Place and Joshua Nastasi, a senior from Center High School, Kansas City, Missouri, won Third Place. Over 125 Kansas City-area high school students performed in ESU Shakespeare competitions at their schools this year. 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 in past competitions.

Wyatt will be awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to New York for the final stage of the Competition and two full days of educational and cultural activities, including an exclusive acting workshop at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Perhaps best of all for Wyatt will be the opportunity to spend a weekend with other competitors from across the country who share his love of Shakespeare’s works.

The National Shakespeare Competition first place winner will receive a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’s Young Actors Summer School in London. The second place winner receives an all-expenses-paid scholarship to attend the American Shakespeare Centre’s Theater Camp in Staunton, VA. The third place winner receives $500 from The Shakespeare Society. 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 him a full scholarship to the Shakespeare Exploration, a camp offered by the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.

Olathe Northwest High School teacher, Robin Murphy, was the sponsoring teacher who helped coach Wyatt in the role of King Richard III. Ms. Murphy has a Bachelor’s degree from Emporia State University and a Master’s degree from Baker University. She has taught for over ten years and performed on stage locally and worked in film and television as well as directed community theatre productions in the Kansas City metro area.

Daniel Bukovac, ESU Kansas City Branch’s Vice President and 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:

Thomas Canfield— Thomas has a Ph.D. in English, with a specialization in Elizabethan drama, from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Currently, he is pursuing a second master’s degree in Theatre at UMKC, where he has been the dramaturg for productions of The Country Wife, Great Expectations, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In six seasons as Dramaturg in Residence for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, he has contributed to summer productions of Romeo and Juliet, Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor, King Richard III, and Macbeth. He recently finished working in the same capacity on two productions for the 20th Anniversary Season in 2012: Antony and Cleopatra and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Last June, he presented a lecture on artistic representations of A Midsummer Night's Dream in graphic and performance art at the Kansas City Public Library. Currently, Dr. Canfield is writing a history of the first Equity playhouse in Kansas City, the Circle theatre, which was located in Union Station from 1962-67. Dr. Canfield teaches Shakespeare and Foundations of Theatre at UMKC, and is a professor of English and Humanities at National American University.

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 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, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra and A Mid-summer Night’s Dream. This summer Sidonie will direct As You Like It, June 18 – July 7, 2013, in Southmoreland Park. Sidonie has also directed productions at The Coterie Theatre (including The Macbeth Project and the U.S. premiere of After Juliet), the American Heartland Theatre and The Unicorn Theatre. She directed holiday programs with the Kansas City Symphony, Falstaff and The Marriage of Figaro for Civic Opera Theatre and has directed productions at UMKC, KCKCC and Avila University. Sidonie directed an original presentation, Play On! A Collaboration of Music and Words with the Bach Aria Soloists last fall.

Carla Noack— Carla has been a professional actor for nearly 25 years, and currently teaches in the UMKC Professional Actor Training (M.F.A.) Program, where she recently directed King Lear, Cymbeline, The Tempest, Pericles and Miss Julie. For ten years she was a core artist of the Commonweal Theatre Company in Lanesboro, MN, where favorite roles included Josie in A Moon for the Misbegotten, Portia in The Merchant of Venice, and Lena Szczepanowska in Misalliance. She was also a 5-year company member of the Great River Shakespeare Festival, playing Rosalind in As You Like It, Katherine in Taming of the Shrew and the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet. Most recently, she played Lily Forrestal in Theatre Latte Da’s Song of Extinction at the Guthrie Theatre, Sarah Goodwin in the Unicorn Theatre’s Time Stands Still, and Queen Elizabeth in the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s King Richard III. Other regional credits include Ten Thousand Things, Coterie Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre and Kansas City Actors Theatre, with whom she is a member of the artistic board.

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. Celebrating its 30th, 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 student, teachers and its members. The ESU carries out its work through a network of 70 Branches in the U.S. and 36 affiliates in the United Kingdom and 60 other countries, sponsoring a variety of language and international education programs. Visit the ESU Kansas City Branch website for the latest news, upcoming programs and membership information at www.esuus.org/kansascity.

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