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Atkinson Makes Her Mark at Shakespearean Monologue Competition

Bard+Buddies%3A+Junior+Katherine+Atkinson+recently+won+second+place+in+a+regional+Shakespearean+Monologue+competition.+She+is+shown+here+with+her+sponsoring+faculty+member%2C+literature+teacher+Casey+Christenson.+%0A
Bard Buddies: Junior Katherine Atkinson recently won second place in a regional Shakespearean Monologue competition. She is shown here with her sponsoring faculty member, literature teacher Casey Christenson.

Bard Buddies: Junior Katherine Atkinson recently won second place in a regional Shakespearean Monologue competition. She is shown here with her sponsoring faculty member, literature teacher Casey Christenson.

Shakay Agasarkisian

Shakay Agasarkisian

Bard Buddies: Junior Katherine Atkinson recently won second place in a regional Shakespearean Monologue competition. She is shown here with her sponsoring faculty member, literature teacher Casey Christenson.

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“To monologue or not to monologue: that is the question.” For junior Katherine Atkinson, there was no question whether she would participate in North Atlanta’s second annual National Shakespeare Competition in early-February.

This fun and competitive event, held by the English-Speaking Union (ESU), is meant to challenge and inspire thespians in high schools all over the United States. According to the ESU webpage, the competition requires that “high school students read, analyze, perform and recite Shakespearean monologues and sonnets in three qualifying stages: at the school, community and national levels.” After competing at the schoolwide level on January 31, Atkinson and senior Loreley Nava advanced to the regional competition, where Atkinson won second place and a prize of $150.

Because theater has been such a big part of her life since she was in the seventh grade, Atkinson was very excited and very willing to participate in the National Shakespeare Competition. She and Nava were supported in their efforts by their sponsoring faculty member, literature teacher Casey Christenson.

There are many actors who feel that practicing monologues is the most beneficial way to be prepared for auditions. When auditioning for theater productions, directors will often have the actors perform monologues in order to gain a sense of the actor’s talents and understand their acting style. “Monologuing really helps me to grow as an actor,” said Atkinson. “To prepare for the competition, I had to develop all aspects of what I’m capable of and put it together for my performance.”

Placing in the regionals is no small feat. The competition tends to be very competitive and those who make it to the second round take their participation very seriously. Atkinson recalled that one competitor went all out for his performance. “The boy who won first place brought a bunch of props and had obviously been practicing his monologue for months,” she said.

The first place winner of the Regional Competition advances to the National Competition held in New York City in April. From there, seven to 10 notable performers proceed to the finals, where they compete for various cash prizes and one student will win a scholarship and airfare to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Young Actors’ Summer School in London, England. Even though Atkinson would have jumped at the opportunity, she is happy with her second place win. “I was very surprised to place because we started preparing kind of late because the school competition was only a week before regionals and I’d been at the Georgia Thespian Conference that weekend,” said Atkinson.

For most high school students, the prospect of memorizing a long speech and standing in front of a panel of judges to perform would be the scariest thing ever. But for Atkinson and Nava it “twas nobler to suffer” the risk of outrageous stagefright. These two brave young actors conquered their fears and took on the Shakespearean challenge head on.

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Atkinson Makes Her Mark at Shakespearean Monologue Competition