Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest

From 75 contestants the first year to over 1,000 participants this past season, the Shakespeare contest has become a much anticipated annual event.

This is a wonderful opportunity for young people to experience the excitement of live performance while learning the works of William Shakespeare. The contest is open to students in grades 4-12. Students may enter the monologue, scene or both portions of the contest in either the upper division (grades 8-12) or the lower division (grades 4-7).

Coaching sessions are conducted in January and February in the schools and at the O'Reilly Theater. Contestants present their pieces on the Public's main stage in front of a panel of judges, and those who advance to the final round of the contest have the opportunity to perform at the Showcase of Finalists.

All participants receive a contest t-shirt and a voucher for two complimentary tickets to a Public Theater production. The Public also offers free orientation sessions for first-time participating teachers and their students. 

  • Monologues should be 25-60 lines long.
  • Scenes should not exceed 5 minutes. (Please adhere to this frequently overlooked guideline!)
  • Monologues and scenes must be memorized.
  • Prompting of any kind is not permitted.
  • All scene performers must be active participants.
  • Costumes and props are to be kept to a minimum, and set pieces are discouraged.
Judging Criteria for Scenes and Monologues
  • Understanding of the text
  • Emotional connectedness
  • Character development
  • Physical and vocal performance
  • Pacing and the interaction amongst the actors in a scene
Suggested Monologues and Scenes

Over the years of conducting the Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest, we have assembled a list of suggested scenes and monologues that work well with student performers: some of them well-known, some less so.  We recommend that you take a close look at this list when choosing a scene or monologue to present for the contest.

The list of course is not exhaustive.  You may also choose a scene or monologue that is not listed here.   In your search, look closely for selections that fit our length and time requirements.  A good scene or monologue has a clear beginning, middle and end.  It’s obviously part of the overall play, but it’s important that it can stand on its own as a performance piece.  In addition, think about a monologue as a speech that a character delivers to a silent or absent listener.  This character may want to share her feelings at that moment, or to explain what he thinks about what has happened so far in the action.

Do you have a great idea for a Shakespearean scene or monologue that should be added to our list?  Let us know!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2014-2015 Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest: 

Lower Division Scene: Benjamin Godley-Fisher and Luke Chinman (Pittsburgh Colfax) as Romeo & Juliet in Romeo & Juliet

Lower Division Monlogue: Carolyn Jerz (Homeschool) as Ariel in The Tempest

Upper Division Scene: Ben Nadler and Sriparna Sen (Upper St. Clair High School) as Lysander and Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream


Upper Division Monologue (tie): Maddie Ince (Pine Richland High School) as Phoebe in As You Like It.


Upper Division Monologue (tie): Larry McKay (Taylor Alderdice High School) as Henry in Henry V.

The Finalists of 2013-2014:

Upper Division Monologues
Micah Everett 
Hamlet in Hamlet
Beaver County Christian

Lindsay Herring
Portia in Julius Caesar
Indiana Players

Sam Gardner
Henry in Henry V
Hope Academy

Sylvia Sterling-Angus
Launcelot in The Merchant of Venice

Laela Lumsden
Jailer's Daughter in The Two Noble Kinsmen
Hope Academy

Upper Division Scenes
Talia Spears and Lataya Davis
Othello and Desdemona in Othello
Woodland Hills High School

Samuel Worsham and James Galloway
Proteus and Speed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Trinity Christian School

Erin Palmer and Elizabeth Blume
Antipholus and Dromio in The Comedy of Errors
Aquinas Academy

Molly Forrest and Xavier Novak
Kate and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew
Quaker Valley High School

Jane Turek and Megan Muller
Macbeth and Macduff in Macbeth
South Side Middle School

Kathleen Kenna and Margot Jezerc
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth
North Allegheny Senior High School

Lower Division Monologues
Clara Swanson 
Julia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Hope Academy

Rebekah Hitchcock
Trinculo in The Tempest
Salt and Light Co-Op

Mariah Mastro
Julia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Gideon Study Center

Erin Bowens
Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Lower Division Scenes
Maxwell Sharp, Zachary Ford and Julia Parks
Trinculo, Caliban and Stephano in The Tempest
Highcliff Elementary

Lela Krackow and Nora Rodes
Helena and Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Lyceum of Pittsburgh

Vincent Scaglione, Joshua Reder and Hailey Reitter
Pyramus, Thisbe and Wall in A Midsummer Night's Dream
East Catholic

Rohan Puri, Alyssa Maenza and Yasseen Sabil
Hamlet, Gertrude and Polonius in Hamlet
Carson Middle School

Javier Drahnak, Jaiden Gibson, Nia Woodson-Hunt, Lana Stewart 
King Lear, Goneril, Cordelia, Regan in King Lear
Pittsburgh Liberty

The Honorable Mentions of 2014-2015:

Katie Yellin - Aquinas Academy
Theresa Boyd - Aquinas Academy
Declan Newcamp, Andy Marous - Aquinas Academy
Benjamin Stadler, Tim Zaharko - Aquinas Academy
Joseph Richthammer, Seth So - Aquinas Academy
Emily Tyler - Avonworth
Maura Corder, Katie Abramowich - Avonworth
Dino Mantinaos - Beaver Area HS
Jonah Cooper, Jacob Barr, Spencer York, Dino Mantinaos - Beaver County Christian
Del Calaschi - Bethlehem Center
Brian Carnahan - Bethlehem Center
Beth Satariano - Blackburn Study Center
Shay McDowell, Joe Phillips, Morgan Meddings, Bryce Keating - Boyce MS
Ariana Freudenberg - Brentwood
Zoey Myers - CAPA
Justin Bees - CAPA
Lizzy Katchen, Naijah Simon, Rhiannon Passmore, Anita Bengert, N'Vy Humphrey, Myonia Stuckey - CAPA
Ruby Paul - CAPA
Lauren Haffner - CAPA
Peter Stamerra - CAPA
Peyton Klein, Jacob Epstein - CAPA
Christine Tompkins - Canon McMillan
Louis Cass - Canon McMillan
Jack Lopuszynski, Natalie Daninhirsch, Zoe Sauder - Caron MS
Sam Kagle - Chartiers Valley MS
Alexander Nese - East Catholic
Rohan Sykora - Environmental Charter
Danny O'Brien, Tommy O'Brien - Ft. Couch MS
Lexi Felman - Ft. Couch MS
Tyler Carroll, Sam Dvorin - Ft. Couch MS
Ethan Dix - Greensburg Salem
Sonia Fung, Tony McCann, Evan Vey - Hampton MS
Sarah Harris - Hickory HS
Sarah Grace Kuchman, Kersten Lubbert - Highcliff ES
Reese Bricker, Jessica Nock - Highcliff ES
Coral Sweetapple, Chesna Tomko, Rowan Smith, Sawyer Smith, Anthony Tomko - Hobnob Theatre Co.
Keely Durkin - Homeschool
Elliot Pullen - Homeschool
Shay Freund - Homeschool
Lawrence White - Hope Academy
Adelle Fernando - Ingomar MS
Mark Pintea - Lincoln Park 
Kali Eberhart - Lincoln Park
Kip Rodes - Lyceum of Pittsburgh
Abby Adelmann, Skyler Davidson - Marshall MS
Emily Yoder - North Hills Jr. High
Maya Lapp, Michale Eddy Harvey - Pittsburgh Obama
Eva Hendricks - St. Edmunds
Marina McCutheon - Springdale
Jonah Hitchcock, Noah Hitchcock - Salt and Light Co-Op
Sofia Martinez - Seneca Valley
Anna Schiller - Slippery rock
Nate Roy, Jordan Everly, Dan Hickman, Nick Weaver, Rachael Pieto, Ryan Infantozzi, Megan Muller - South Side MS
Wyatt Verhill, Keith Merritt - Trinity Christian
Elizabeth Handley - Trinity Christian 
Shebl Rosati - Upper St. Clair
Alex Plummer - Hope Academy
Sofia Rella - Winchester Thurston

Additional Resources

For more information on Shakespeare or for a complete text of his plays, check out these links:

Folger Shakespeare Library
The Plays of William Shakespeare Vocabulary Glossary
Guide to Online Schools Shakespeare Library

Open Source Shakespeare
Shakespeare's Monologues
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
The Royal Shakespeare Company
Shakespeare at


What People are Saying about the Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest 

"Students sometimes view Shakespeare as remarkably dull and inaccessible.  But Shakespeare Competition participants know better.  They search out the perfect scene:  the drunken sandbag dual, the washed ashore coffin containing an undead beauty, bad actors putting on a play to impress royalty.  Then they bring that scene to life, filling the characters with quirks and peccadilloes, defining action (swordfights, swoons, stumbles, the arched eyebrow, the pregnant pause), then action with words, well-enunciated words that can actually be heard by the judges.  It's creative.  It requires teamwork.  It's a whole lot of fun, and not for the faint of heart." - Peg Boyd, Parent


"The staff's commitment to introducing Shakespeare to a younger generation is enormously inspiring.  The individual attention paid to each and every performance [during the contest] is remarkable.  Kids develop an appreciation for classical theater, and they enjoy it.  I've gained wonderful memories, friendships, and performance opportunities that I will never forget." - Lara Hillier, Shakespeare Contest Participant and Four-Time Winner

"The Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest has been, without doubt, the highlight of my entire theater experience in junior high and high school.  I have learned more about the performing arts from my participation in the program than from any other source.  Pittsburgh Public Theater dedicates a lot of time and effort to the education of young people."  - Simon Brown, Shakespeare Contest Participant and Winner

"To be able to get up and perform on the amazing O'Reilly stage is a cool thing all by itself.  But then you add Shakespeare to that! Although the language is old, Shakespeare could never get old--not when the stories are still relevant and there are kids like me participating in the Shakespeare competition.  This competition is a wonderful opportunity for students to truly try something new." - Meggie Booth, Shakespeare Contest Participant

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Underwritten by 

Pittsburgh Public Theater Education programs are underwritten by BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, The Grable Foundation, and EITC funders. Media Sponsors: WESA & WYEP.



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