The English-Speaking Union

News And Events

Chairman's April Newsletter

Dear friends,

April is Shakespeare's month at the English-Speaking Union. For the past thirty-nine years, the ESU National Shakespeare Competition has brought together high school students, their families and teachers, and ESU members in Branches across the country for a celebration of the Bard's lasting literary legacy. The Competition has endured for nearly forty years because of its transformative effects on the young participants and the profound feeling of satisfaction and delight it instills in all of us who support it.

This year was no exception. Forty-three Branches sent their best contestants to the virtual semi-finals and I hear from the judges that they were hard-pressed to select the top ten from among so many outstanding performers. The Finals on the afternoon of April 25th were broadcast live and attended by nearly 300 ESU members, teachers and parents. 

Watch the Recorded Competition!

I am delighted to announce that the winner of the 2022 English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is Sasha Fedderly (ESU New York) with runners-up, Roxanna Beebe-Center (ESU Charlottesville) in second place and Kathuure Miriti (ESU Kentucky) in third place. I am sure you will enjoy the performance videos from all contestants and the announcement of the 2022 ESU National Shakespeare Competition and People's Choice Award winners on the ESU website.

I thank all of you for your support of the ESU National Shakespeare Competition and all other ESU programs and activities. Without your participation as members and volunteers, the ESU would not exist. The ESU's time-tested culture and traditions have wisely relied on you having a strong interest and voice in the future of our Union.

That's why, on behalf of the ESU Board of Directors, I've invited the Reverend Renee LiaBraaten to lead us this summer in a conversation about our aspirations for strong and vibrant Branches. Reverend LiaBraaten has decades of experience working with congregations and other charitable organizations on successfully moving forward in the midst of a rapidly changing cultural and societal context. 

The ESU Board and I believe that such a conversation is timely and much needed. The past three years posed extraordinary challenges to our organization and undermined the progress we had made toward strengthening our Branches and membership. The Covid-imposed isolation has been antithetical to the ESU's spirit, which is grounded in human interaction, in people meeting each other face to face and across borders. With the pandemic receding and members getting together in person again, it is time to look to the future.  

You may remember Renee from a few years back, when we worked with her on our Centennial campaign. Her seminal report informed our decision to bring back into focus the ESU's essence of a membership organization. 

This time, Renee, supported by Executive Director Karen Karpowich and her staff, will work with a diverse group of stakeholders including Branch leaders, members, volunteers, and beneficiaries of our programs to discern pathways to growth at the Branch and national levels. Titled "Setting the Stage for Growth," this work will result in a state-of-the-union report that will outline the process for expanding participation in the ESU. Renee will work with us throughout the summer so that the report is ready for the 2022 ESU Annual General Conference.

And I am thrilled to announce that finally, after three years of Covid, we will meet in person November 11-13 for the 2022 ESU Annual General Conference. It will be hosted most graciously by the ESU Charleston Branch in charming Charleston, South Carolina.

Under the same theme of "Setting the Stage for Growth," the 2022 Annual General Conference will give us an opportunity to review Reverend LiaBraaten's report and use it as a springboard for what I hope will be a productive discussion about the ESU's path forward to a growing membership and dynamic Branches. 

And, in closing, I would like to reassure you that we are in close contact with Buckingham Palace about setting the date for the rescheduled Gala in the presence of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. Her Royal Highness' office is working on a date for us between late September 2022 and early January 2023. We will be in touch as soon as the plans firm up.  

In the meantime, while we await The Princess Royal's visit, I invite you to join us on June 3 for a special event that marks Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee.

The event will feature a recording of my performance of Duke Ellington's The Queen's Suite, an album of six wonderful jazz pieces the Duke dedicated to Her Majesty after meeting her in 1958. During our June 3 Platinum Jubilee celebration, the recording will be offered as a gift (a lagniappe, as we say in Louisiana) to all registered Gala attendees with our gratitude for their support and patience.

Dear friends, better times are up ahead. The pandemic is in retreat, we are getting to see each other's smiles again, and there will be many great occasions to mark. Our Union endured through the Covid pandemic with fortitude and grace, the way it prevailed over innumerable challenges throughout its century-long history. As we celebrate what we have, let's look forward with optimism to the future. 

With best regards,


Dr. E. Quinn Peeper Chairman

The English-Speaking Union of the United States

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Announcing the winners of the 39th English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition

New York City: Our 12 finalists were brought together virtually for the 39th annual National Shakespeare Competition, making it the third-ever virtual competition in the program's history. People from across the country came together on Monday, April 25th on Zoom to watch as the 12 finalists performed for 5 judges. The virtual competition utilized various technologies across multiple platforms, including Zoom, Youtube, and text-to-vote, all of which enabled thousands of engagements, and hundreds of viewers from across the globe.

Watch the Recorded Competition Here!

Sasha Fedderly of the ESU New York City Branch won 1st Place with her captivating and thoughtful renditions of Lady MacBeth from MacBeth and Sonnet 35. Sasha has won attendance at the BADA Midsummer Conservatory Program in Oxford, England this summer (Midsummer Conservatory Program – BADA).. Her teacher, Margaret George at Lycee Francais de New York High School will receive the $1000 Teacher Recognition Award.

Roxanna Beebe Center of the ESU Charlottesville Branch took 2nd Place with her captivating interpretations of Hecate from MacBeth and Sonnet 94.  As her prize, Roxanna will be attending the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp in Staunton, Virginia (ASC Theatre Camp | American Shakespeare Center). Her teacher, David Becker at Charlottesville High School will receive the $500 Teacher Recognition Award. 

Kathuure Miriti of the ESU Kentucky Branch won 3rd place for her stirring rendition of Cressida from Troilus and Cressida and Sonnet 34. Kathuure will take home a cash prize of $1000. Her teacher, Amie Kisling at SCAPA Lafayette High School will receive the $250 Teacher Recognition Award.

We are proud to continue the People's Choice Award as part of the 2022 National Shakespeare Competition. Instituted three years ago to foster a sense of community during the Covid safe virtual competition format, the People's Choice Award has been a popular outlet for students to support each other. Due to the success of the People's Choice Awards, we have expanded this year's prizes to include not only a first-place winner but also a second and third place winner. 

The recipient of the $1,000 1st place prize, Molly Livesay of the Austin Branch, student of Helen Potter at Great Hearts Monte Vista North High School, received 635 votes. In 2nd place, with 534 votes, Jake Reed of the Memphis Branch took home a $500 prize. Jake is a student of Cynthia Weiland at Arlington High School. In 3rd place, with 452 votes, Riley Prior of the Monmouth New Jersey Branch took home a $250 prize. Riley is a student of Smita Gantra at Glen Ridge High School. Nearly 7,000 people voted from around the world, including Germany, Australia, the Philippines, India, China, and Indonesia, expanding the competition's community despite the pandemic. 

To read more about our winners, finalists, esteemed judges, and this year's competition, please read the full article and download the press release.

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Register for the 2022 ESU National Shakespeare Competition

Calling all Shakespeare Competition Friends and Family- Come Join the Fun for Free!

Watch the competition live via Zoom! Tickets are free, we just ask that you register before Sunday, April 24th. Let's spread the word to family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
Monday, April 25th at 2 PM ET via Zoom.
The 2022 ESU National Shakespeare Competition has some of the finest young Shakespeareans you'll see anywhere! 

Don't forget to vote in the People's Choice Award

Second place will receive $500!
Third place will receive $250!

An event for the whole ESU Shakespeare community! Like last year, friends, families, teachers, classmates, and communities will be able to vote for their favorite performance.
All videos are eligible and voting is open to everyone, not just ESU members. Get your school community, neighbors, and relatives involved.
This year we're proud to announce the inclusion of second place and third place prizes! Keep the fun going and support all of our branch champions by voting in the People's Choice Award.

Voting ends at midnight on April 22nd!

Support the ESU National Shakespeare Competition

As we continue celebrating our Centennial, the ESU recognizes that our greatest strength is the commitment and dedication of our community. Thank you for your support of the 2021 ESU National Shakespeare Competition.

Support the ESU National Shakespeare Competition

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Happy Birthday to Her Majesty Queen

Your Majesty,

With gratitude and admiration, The English-Speaking Union of the United States sends you warm greetings on the occasion of your 96th birthday.

We thank you for all the years of service you've given to the people of the United Kingdom and the entire world.


May God continue to bless you!

With our good wishes and prayers,

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper


The National Board of Directors of The English-Speaking Union of the United States

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ESU Happy Hour Series

Wednesday, April 27 at 5:00 PM (EDT)
African-Americans Play The Bard
Professor Charles Dumas

A discussion of those notable African-Americans who have played the Bard including Ira Aldridge, Paul Robeson, James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Frances Foster, Audra McDonald, & Fran Dorn.

Charles Dumas is a professor emeritus from Penn State University.  He is an Emmy Award winning professional actor, director, and writer. He has performed or directed in 10 Shakespeare plays including Othello three times.


Read More                              Register Online Here

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