Welcome to the New 2023!
May it bring you health, joy and countless wonderful experiences! And I hope that many of them will be alongside your fellow ESU members.
But first, I am delighted to announce the addition of four new members to our National Board of Directors: esteemed microbiologist and ESU Luard Morse Scholar (1978-79) Dr. Gregory W. Buck; board-certified psychiatrist and Medical Director at the Veterans Administration Medical Center Washington DC Dr. Mary R. Lee; PwC Cloud and Digital Strategy Partner Ms. Michelle C. Seale; and EVP, General Counsel and Head of Business Affairs at Hallmark Media Mr. Jon Sichel, who were elected to the Board at the Annual General Meeting in Charleston S.C. They are starting their service with the first Directors' meeting on January 26.
I am excited about them being part of the ESU National Board and I thank them for agreeing to serve to further the ESU's mission. They join a long legacy of excellence in the ESU's leadership and each brings unique skills, experience and perspectives to help our organization thrive. Join me in wishing them a successful and rewarding service!
In 2023 we will celebrate a big milestone – the ESU National Shakespeare Competition's 40th birthday. In this letter I would like to tell you about how we plan to mark this major occasion and invite you to join us in the festivities.
This year, for the first time since the pandemic, the ESU National Shakespeare Competition returns to New York with in-person national finals on Monday, April 24, 2023, at Lincoln Center. It will bring all semi-finalists together for an exciting weekend from Saturday, April 22, to Tuesday, April 25, encompassing the Bard's birthday.
Parents, teachers, Branch coordinators and leadership, as well as regular members, are invited to join the students in many of the activities and programs during this Competition weekend such as meals, a Broadway show, New York City tour, etc. We are offering a special Parents Package that includes complimentary access to selected group activities and some Parent/Chaperone-only events.
A cocktail reception on April 24, 2023, after the Competition, will gather program alumni and friends – participants, their families and teachers, current and former judges, etc. as well as, hopefully, a few celebrities from the theater world.
You are all invited to join. Please mark your calendars – a formal invitation with all the details will follow soon.
Besides making the 2023 ESU National Shakespeare Competition finals extra special, we are offering another unique opportunity to celebrate the ESU's National Shakespeare Competition's 40th birthday - a transatlantic crossing aboard RMS Queen Mary 2 and a one-of-a-kind tour in and around London, July 7-17, 2023.
Under the theme of The Bard's Queens on Board, the voyage will offer the perfect mix of intellectual stimulation, elegant travel and sheer fun in the company of old and new friends.
A group of twenty travelers will set sail from New York on July 7 aboard RMS Queen Mary 2 for a week at sea. During the crossing, Shakespeare expert and author Dr. Catherine Loomis, who will travel with us, will amuse and challenge us with engaging daytime lectures and evening conversations about all things Shakespeare seen through the prism of the women in his life and art.
On shore, we will delight in behind-the-scenes access to unique places and people made possible by the ESU's network of connections built over a century. The Bard's Queen's theme will continue with visits to Hever Castle, ancestral home to Anne Boleyn; Knole at Sevenoaks, home to young Mary Tudor, later Mary I; and Hatfield House, Queen Elizabeth I's favorite residence. At Knole and Hatfield House, we will be greeted by the owners who will share family stories that go back centuries and show us private rooms not generally open to the public.
On the program are also a performance at Shakespeare's Globe and visits to the National Portrait Gallery and the British Library where we will see the First Folio. Did you know that 2023 marks the First Folio's 400 birthday?
For the grand finale, we will celebrate the ESU National Shakespeare Competition's anniversary at Dartmouth House, home of our sister organization, the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth. We will tour this historic house, raise a toast in the Courtyard, and enjoy a sumptuous dinner in the Drawing Room, entertained by youth from the summer's Shakespeare competition, a newly launched program by Dartmouth House, inspired by our own Competition.
This voyage will be the first of our re-imagined exclusive tours to destinations and experiences connected to the ESU's history, programs and cultural traditions. In years past, the ESU had such a program. Some of my fondest memories – and strongest friendships – were forged during these ESU adventures. When I became Chairman, I vowed to bring these bespoke tours back, as a way to engage and thrill our most loyal supporters, celebrate our achievements and raise funds for the ESU's programs and activities.
The Bard's Queens on Board voyage will do all these things, magnificently. This will be a one-of-a-kind, "bucket-list" adventure. It is special because it will mark the ESU National Shakespeare Competition's 40th anniversary – on the heels of the ESU's Centennial. You can find details about the itinerary and how to sign up on the tour's website page.
Dear friends, we want 2023 to be a year that celebrates our resilience in the face of adversity and the return to normalcy when we again get together with friends and raise a toast to life and happiness. The ESU National Shakespeare Competition's 40th anniversary is a perfect occasion to do that. Come to the finals in New York City on April 24, and if it is on your wish list, join us for the Bard's Queens on Board tour. It will be an experience of a lifetime.
With best regards,