ESU Southwest Virginia Branch

A Message from the Southwest Virginia Branch President

The Southwest Virginia Branch of the English Speaking Union has endured the COVID 19 pandemic in reasonable fashion. Our members have successfully survived the virus. Most of our members renewed their membership for the 2020 – 2021 year in spite of the fact that we have had only one meeting and no organized activities. We have been "pretty much dormant."

We held an "in person" annual meeting in June with an excellent program. We elected officers and board members for the 2021 – 2022 year. We enjoyed getting together and seeing our friends "in person" after more than a year hiatus. Our program was presented by Dr. Ted Rappaport on the future of "wireless technology" which was essentially a forecast of what we now call "cell phones" and where this technology will take us in coming years.

The board has met and prepared an outline of where the branch plans to go in the coming year. Of course, all of this is tempered by the uncertainty of where the COVID virus takes us.

We working to rejuvenate the Shakespeare Competition and are enthusiastic about the future of our branch.

Please renew your membership for the 2021 – 2022 year. Or, if you are not a member, please consider joining us.

With best regards,
Vernon M. Danielsen

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News And Events

ESU Programs 2022-2023

September 25, 2022, 4-6 pm
Fall Opening Party. Bring Guests to the historic Virginian Railway Passenger Station at the intersection of Williamson Road and Jefferson Street. Hors d'oeuvres, wine, and soft drinks will be provided. Members are $25 each. Guests are free.

October 20, 2022
Cocktails and dinner at the Shenandoah Club to hear Dr. Jane S. Gabin, an educational consultant and speaker on "American Women in Victorian London." Black tie optional.

December 11, 2022
Our Annual Holiday Luncheon at the Shenandoah Club. Holiday attire is suggested.

February 9, 2023, 3 pm
Afternoon tea and finger foods at the Shenandoah Club "The Text Is a Lie: The 400-year Odyssey of Shakespeare's Plays" featuring represenatives from the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia

March 9, 2023, 3 pm
Afternoon tea and finger foods at the Shenandoah Club. Frances Fuller will speak on her book, "Helping Yourself Grow Old" and her years as a missionary publisher in the Middle East.

April 27, 2023
Dinner at Montano's new Anello Dining Room. Geoffrey Saur will be sharing his knowledge and talent of bagpipes with us. Mr. Saur has been piping for 15 plus years and has traveled to Scotland to join the Piper's Trail, the host band of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  




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2022 Program

Spring 2022
Programs are held at The Shenandoah Club, 24 Franklin Road, Roanoke, VA
Cocktails at 6:00pm Dinner at 6:45pm
Business Attire unless otherwise noted.
Guests are welcome if sponsored by a member. The cost for dinner is $40 per person.

January 20, 2022

Lia Wallace and Aubrey Whitlock from The American Shakespeare Center – The Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia will talk on "To Play With You. The Role of the Audience in Shakespeare's Plays."

March 24, 2022

Jim Beeson will talk on his recent tour of "Biking Across the United States on the Southern Tier San Diego, California to St Augustine, Florida"

April 28, 2022

Tim Martin will talk on "The History of Modern Folk Music – Guitar and Song Writing." (Gentlemen: black tie suggested)


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ESU Programs

Programs are planned to be held at
The Shenandoah Club, 24 Franklin Rd, Roanoke, VA
Cocktails at 6:00pm Dinner at 6:45pm
Business Attire.
Guests are welcome if sponsored by a member.
The Garden Party, held in September in previous years will not be held in 2021 due to Covid 19 restrictions.


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With a performance of a sonnet and monologue from Shakespeare, Ryan Smith  from Roanoke, VA, a student of Steve Rittenhouse at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, placed as a semi-finalist in the 34th annual English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition in New York City. The Competition took place on May 1, 2017 on the stage of the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center with 54 semi-finalists from as many ESU Branch competitions nationwide. Ryan previously won the ESU Southwest Virginia Branch competition.

The winner of the 34th English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, Ogechi Egonu, representing the San Francisco Branch, received a full scholarship to attend the American Shakespeare Center Theatre Camp in Staunton, VA, this summer.  Second place winner, Brandon Burk, from the Kentucky Branch, won a cash prize of $1,000 from The English-Speaking Union, while the third place winner, Trevon Wainwright, representing the Kansas City Branch of the ESU, received an award of $500 provided by The Shakespeare Society.

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The English-Speaking Union

Southwest Virginia Branch

Southwest Virginia Branch Landmark Photo

Welcome to the ESU

The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.

To find out more about our programs click here.