Cazenovia High School sophomore Orresta Paddock was recently declared the winner of this year’s English Speaking Union Annual Shakespeare Competition.
Increasingly, more students have been joining the Shakespeare Club at Cazenovia High School and participating in the competition, in which the student must perform one of Shakespeare’s monologues on stage with no microphone.
Paddock performed the well-known piece of Romeo in “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet” in which he is about to kill himself because he believes his lover is dead.
The runner-up, Sophie Heath, acted the part of Lady Macbeth from “Macbeth” where she is sleepwalking due to incredible guilt of the numerous deaths she convinced her husband to commit. Both performed amazing pieces that showed off their natural talents.
The winner and runner-up went to the regional competition in Syracuse where they not only performed a monologue; they also memorized and performed one of Shakespeare’s love sonnets.
This is a very difficult and nerve-racking competition, so with much gratitude, Michael Barbour, assistant director of the Le Moyne College Theater and member of the actors’ equity, gave advice to the students performing at the student workshop last month. He granted helpful directions, including where to stand, or look, or to be thinking about what the character is doing at the moment.
One piece of advice he gave me last year that was informative was “What is your character doing? Don’t dwell on what he/she is feeling because that is the obvious.” His input was greatly used in the regional competition. You could easily see which students went to the workshop and took Barbour’s valuable advice.
The competition consisted of 17 participants from all over Central New York. I was incredibly pleased with the enthusiasm of the performing students, especially Cazenovia’s own Orresta. Talking to him before the show, he was nervous and excited at the same time. We were all very impressed by his efforts and hope to see him compete again next year.