The Play’s the Thing: Katherine Shaw ’26 Advances to National Finals in Shakespeare Competition

Last Saturday, Katherine Shaw ’26 took first place in the Massachusetts state finals of the National Shakespeare Competition. Katherine will compete in the national finals at Lincoln Center on April 15, 2024. 

Participation in the competition has become an annual tradition for aspiring Shakespearean actors at Rivers. Last year’s finalist, Crystie Frometa ’23, also advanced to the national round representing Massachusetts, advancing to the final round of the competition and placing among the top 10 in the country.

Shaw passed through several rounds to reach the national finals. For the first round, held in the Rivers Black Box Theater, Rivers participants choose, memorize, and rehearse a monologue from one of Shakespeare's plays, performing it before a panel of faculty judges—this year, Maddie Smith, Julian Willard P’24, Jennie Jacoby P’07, and Diane Devore P’22. This year seven students competed in the school round. Shaw won the round with a selection from Ophelia's monologue from Act 4, Scene 5 of Hamlet

Following the win at Rivers, Shaw progressed to the regional competition on February 3, where actors must perform a memorized sonnet in addition to the monologue. Shaw advanced to the state finals with her performance of Ophelia’s monologue and Sonnet 34. 

At the state finals Saturday, February 10, the eight finalists faced one more challenge, beyond the previously prepared monologues and sonnets. Contestants had 24 hours to learn and rehearse an additional, heretofore unseen monologue. At the end of the competition, the four judges, all local Boston actors and drama teachers, selected Shaw as the first-place winner.  

Faculty member Juliet Bailey organizes the competition. She coached Shaw for the regional and state rounds, assisted by alum Miles Jacoby ’07, a professional actor, who joined in virtually. Both coaches helped Shaw prepare by discussing her lines and interpretation and rehearsing the delivery of the pieces. Said Bailey, “The judges were moved by [Shaw’s] emotional range, performance choices, and her embodiment of the character.”

Congratulations to this talented sophomore, and break a leg!
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