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Press Release

Matthew Grigoratos Performs in Semi-Finals in 36th Annual National Shakespeare Competition in New York City

Kansas City Area Junior from Blue Valley High School Wins All-Expenses Paid Trip to New York City

May 3, 2019 / PRZen / KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- April 29th may have been a normal Monday for most high school students, but for Matthew Grigoratos, a Junior at Blue Valley High School, it will be a day to remember forever.

Matthew, a student of Maureen Davis, placed as a semi-finalist at the 36th Annual National Shakespeare Competition celebrating William Shakespeare's birthday while competing against 52 students from around the US on stage at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center Theater. The event is the culmination of a year-long competition hosted by the English-Speaking Union (ESU).

To qualify for the National Shakespeare Competition semi-finals, Matthew won the regional ESU Kansas City Branch Shakespeare Competition earlier this year.

Each year, more than 20,000 high school students participate in the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition at the school, regional and national levels through the help of more than 2,500 teachers and 53 ESU branches nationwide.

As part of the competition, students perform a monologue and recite a sonnet from Shakespeare and are judged on their understanding of their selected texts and on their ability to communicate their interpretation to the audience. Through this school-based program, students in grades 9-12 develop critical thinking and speaking skills and increase their self-confidence through the performance of Shakespeare's work.

Since 1983, the English-Speaking Union has given more than 325,000 students of all backgrounds the opportunity to bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and to learn to express his words with understanding, feeling and clarity. The competition has been recognized by the Globe Center, the Children's Theatre Foundation of America and the American Academy of Achievement.

Citing its 36th season this year, the Honorable Bill De Blasio, Mayor of the City of New York, proclaimed Monday, April 29, 2019 as "William Shakespeare Day" in New York City. Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill CBE KSt.J, Chairman of the English-Speaking Union, awarded the competitors certificates of achievement.

The English-Speaking Union provided the semi-finalists who traveled to New York from around the country with two days of educational and cultural activities, including an exclusive acting workshop by the Dean of BADA, Eunice Roberts, and a tour of New York City. Perhaps best of all for these teenagers was the opportunity to spend time with other students from across the country who share a love of the English language and, particularly, Shakespeare.

For additional information regarding the English in Action National Shakespeare Competition, please visit

The English-Speaking Union (ESU) is a non-profit educational charity that employs the English language to foster global understanding and good will through educational opportunities and cultural exchange programs. Founded in 1920 and headquartered in New York City, the ESU is a national organization with more than 55 branches nationwide and affiliated with a network of more than 50 ESUs around the world.

ESU educational programs focus on teacher enrichment, immigrant support, scholarships and youth speaking programs. Each year, our programs serve more than 60,000 teachers, students, volunteers and immigrants around the US.

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