The Utah Shakespeare Festival and the University of Southern Utah will host the 45th annual Shakespeare Competition on October 1-2, bringing together more than 2,500 students from across the country to showcase and share their talents.
The competition began in 1977 as a way for students in grades six through twelve to come to Cedar City and participate in acting competitions and earn scholarships. Over the years, competitions were added to dance, music, and technical theater. Forty-five years later, organized by more than eighty schools, the Shakespeare competition has become the largest of its kind in the country. States with participating students include Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Michael Bahr, director of education at the festival, said that in addition to providing scholarships to students, the competition is important because it brings together teachers, students and playwrights from across the country. “What happens to us in this small town during the Shakespeare competition is very good,” Bahr said, “because the one thing we all come together for is to celebrate Shakespeare and the creations we do at this time.”
Although the competition was virtually conducted last year, a combination of personal and virtual events will be held this year. “Students are eager to face it again, but we’re going to make sure we’re celebrating and learning safely,” Bahr said. “We have implemented a number of security protocols this year so that we will still feel safe even if we have a large and diverse team present.” The festival requests that masks should be worn during indoor events. Bahr noted that outdoor events at the Engelstadt and Adams Theater will be open to the public. Events where students are being judged indoors will not be open to the public, but can be viewed via a link www.bard.org/competition.
The judges participating in the competition consisted of SUU faculty as well as actors, dancers, technologists and artists from different states. “Our judges are flying from Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, California, Utah and Idaho,” Bahr said. Said.
More than 200 SUU students in the Music, Dance, Theater Arts and Arts Administration program, conducted on the festival grounds and campus of the University of Southern Utah, will volunteer to facilitate competition with art professionals and festival administrators.
At the end of the two days of the competition, about 20,000 20,000 in scholarships and prizes will be awarded to twenty participants and the school in each category.
Although not every participant will be left with a prize or scholarship, the festival expects that the value that students will gain from the competition is much higher. “It’s important because these are basic experiences,” Bahr said. “If a student does Shakespeare, they can do anything.”
Visit for more information about Shakespeare’s Contest www.bard.org/competition.