After winning U-High contest, Alyssa Russell will attend regional Shakespeare competition

Nicky Edwards-Levin, Midway Reporter


From “King Lear” to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to “A Winter’s Tale,” Shakespeare was in the air Feb. 5  in the Blaine Theater.

Senior Alyssa Russell, performing as Helena from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” earned first place among five U-High students. Each performed a Shakespearean monologue of their choosing in front of a panel of judges during open time on Tuesday, competing for the chance to represent U-High at the Regional level of the National Shakespeare Competition Feb. 13.

Junior Henrik Nielsen, performing as Edmund from “King Lear” came in second place, while the sole underclassman, freshman Kara Tao received an honorable mention for her performance as Hermione from “A Winter’s Tale.”

Alyssa chose Helena’s monologue, after seeing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

“It stuck with me so I decided to look for a monologue in that play. I chose the specific monologue because it had various emotions, specific beats, and interesting subtext,” Alyssa said. “I also found it to be a really fun monologue to perform.”

To prepare, Alyssa first memorized the monologue and then dove in further with her character, Helena.

“I started by simply memorizing the piece because I knew that would take the longest, then spent time analyzing the character, her situation, and what she literally means in the text. I recorded it a few times so I could watch myself and see if my character choices were working until I solidified how I wanted to perform it.”

Alyssa will perform her monologue as well as Shakespeare’s Sonnet 23 at the Regional level of the National Shakespeare Competition, sponsored by the English Speaking Union.