Antaeus’ First On-line Shakespeare Monologue Competition


Our ten semi-finalists!

Antaeus’ First On-line Shakespeare Monologue Competition for L.A. Middle and High Schools

Christopher Morrison, Education Coordinator

We all find our love for theater somewhere. I didn’t “find” mine, it found me. My sophomore year of high school an amazing teacher tossed me into a Twelfth Night scene; Shakespeare grabbed a hold and still hasn’t let me go. So you can imagine my feeling of pride last Saturday when ten high schoolers took the Antaeus stage to perform for our 2010 ShakesAlive! Monologue Competition.

But that isn’t the beginning of this story. Back in November a few Antaeus Arts Ed Committee members and I visited four schools, 16 separate classrooms, reaching out to over 600 kids to talk about performing Shakespeare. At the end of each class we announced the competition to the students, encouraging them to enter the first round of the contest: posting a video of their monologue online. Antaeus Ensemble members then gathered to view all of the 34 entries, narrowing them down to ten semi-finalists. These ten were invited to the theater on December 4th to for coaching and to perform their monologue for their families and guests as part of the competition.

The day started with a group warm-up led by Arts Ed Committee Chair, Janellen Steininger. Right away the students’ fierce love and commitment to theater was evident. Then, these vibrant young actors performed their monologues for our five coaches: Rob Nagle, Kitty Swink, Larry Pressman, Robert Pine and Allan Miller. After a little nosh, each coach was paired with two students to work on their material for an hour. The coaches wasted no time and had kids on their feet right away, taking them through their paces, breaking down each piece and providing critique from a professional vantage point.

At 3:00pm, company members, friends of Antaeus, the contestants’ friends, family and — most importantly — the judges, filled the theater. Our esteemed panel of judges, all who donated their time, just as the coaches did, included: Jeanie Hackett, Harry Groener, Tony Amendola, Robert Machray and Simon Helberg. Once the lights went down, the students presented their monologues.  All the performances had grown from the coaching sessions and everyone was up to the challenge of performing for this impressive audience.  After the last monologue the judges retired to deliberate a grand prize winner while the contestants got the chance to mingle with the crowd and receive well-deserved accolades.

The judges were impressed with the level of ability and understanding present in every performer. Eventually they decided that two contestants had tied for the winner of the grand prize! Along with awarding a second and a first runner up, the judges awarded TWO grand prize winners. Every contestant received a copy of the play that their monologue was from as well as a certificate of entry. In addition, the second runner up received $25.00, the first runner up $50.00 and the two grand prize winners each won $200 AND an Arden edition of Shakespeare’s Complete Works.

Once the decisions had been made, the judges took the stage to offer praise and some further guidance for the performers, and hand out awards. Afterwards, in true Antaeus manner, all were invited into the library for a reception featuring cupcakes, eggnog, and hot cider.

I could not be happier to be involved with Antaeus’ continued commitment to reach into our community to inspire our love of the classics in the next generation of performers.

Here is all our wonderful semi-finalists from the competition.

Grand prize winner: Audrey Corsa

Crossroads High School/10th/Joan of Arc, Henry VI, part I

Grand prize winner: Matt Kelly

Oak Hills High School/10th/ Shylock, The Merchant of Venice:

1st Runner up: Ben Rudy

LACHSA/11th/ Sebastian, Twelfth Night

2nd Runner up: Donna Hossenzadeh

LACHSA/11th/Brutus, Julius Caesar

Jahanavi Aithal, LACHSA/10th/Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Cameron Covell, LACHSA/10th/Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Frankie Garces, LACHSA/10th/Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Nina Hossenzadeh, LACHSA/10th/Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Grae King, LACHSA/10th/Hermione, The Winter’s Tale

Miranda Rizzolo, The Buckley School/12th/Juliet, Romeo and Juliet

To watch all the entries to the competition please go here:


Huge Strides for ShakesAlive!

Arts Education and Outreach programs bring our ensemble members into the classroom to make Shakespearean text accessible, fun and relevant to students’ lives. Through ShakesAlive!, we work with educators to develop culturally specific programs that move from Euro-centric to multi-centric and we give Los Angeles area students the opportunity to revel in both familiar and undiscovered classic gems of all cultures.

Returning to William Tell Aggeler Opportunity School this Winter for Project 29: partnering at-risk youth with Shakespeare’s at-risk characters.  Also returning to Cleveland HS in the spring!

Antaeus was recently granted a new way for schools to find us — a listing on the LA County Arts For All Website – these listings were VERY competitive and we are now part of Los Angeles County’s first interactive website that supports the arts education needs of educators, community stakeholders and policy makers by providing centralized access to the tools and information necessary to achieve sequential K-12 arts education.
Our Arts Ed Department also now partners with Center Theatre Group on their Annenberg Middle School Program. This is a new pilot, a 3-year action research program that will lead students through a playwriting residency with professional readings by actors from local theatre companies, mirroring the actual playwriting process. The goal is to improve and inspire students’ language and creative thinking skills, leading to student achievement in Language Arts.
As part of our planned expansion in 2010, we held the first of a series of Teaching Artist Training Workshops last October. See a snippet here!
Stay tuned ~ our Shakespeare Monologue Competition also returns in 2010!

Why is Arts Education important to me?

Brett Colbeth, A2 member & volunteer for Shakes Alive!, Antaeus's Shakespeare in the Schools Program

Brett Colbeth, A2 member & volunteer for Shakes Alive!, Antaeus's Shakespeare in the Schools Program

Why is Arts Education Important to me?

By Brett Colbeth, member of A2 & Antaeus Shakes Alive! Volunteer

You ask that question to any artist and they will probably chuckle like I did.  To me, it’s like asking, “Why is breathing important to me?”  I can only speak from my own experience and that’s exactly what I hope to achieve in this, my very first blog post.

If I weren’t fortunate enough to have had arts education in my life I would have turned out to be a degenerate… seriously!  I came close a few times in life.  Since as far back as I can remember, the arts have always acted as a productive and healthy outlet for me.  As a child, I would sketch and paint in order to quiet my mind and make sense of what I was feeling.  I still do.  Ms. Hemmings, my elementary school art teacher, taught me that whatever I created was beautiful because it came from my own personal truth.  She praised my version of “American Gothic” a la “Ren and Stimpy.”  I won my school district’s art award and a lot of self-esteem. Thanks Ms. Hemmings.  Mr. Provost, my fourth grade cello teacher, not only taught me “Ode to Joy” but how to handle and care for something with love and grace.  Thanks Mr. Provost!  Bruce Altice, my guitar teacher, taught me how to wail on the guitar and not on others.  Mr. Wahl, my senior year English teacher opened my eyes and soul to Shakespeare and poetry!

These are just a few of the arts educators that played a major role in putting the arts into my life.  I would like to conclude with recognizing my mother and father who nurtured my love for the arts at an early age and though not “artists” in the purist sense of the word are two of the most creative and original people I know.  They taught me to look at things subjectively, empathize with others and seek out the beauty in life, my brother man, and myself.  And most importantly, never settle for anything less than the truth! So to conclude, why is arts education important to me?  If I didn’t have sketching and painting as a means to quiet my mind and focus my energy I would have drugs and alcohol.  If Ms. Hemmings never told me about my own personal truth I would have looked for it in another person, place or thing.  If Mr. Provost never taught me how to hold and care for a cello I would have a difficult time holding and caring for anyone and anything I had the chance of laying my hands on.  If Bruce Altice never taught me how to wail on the guitar at that very moment in my life, I would have been kicked out of school and thrown in juvenile hall for violent delinquent behavior. And If Mr. Wahl, never opened my eyes and soul to Shakespeare and poetry I would struggle even more than I do today with “finding the words to say.”  And that’s exactly where I will end it.  Do the world a service and create some art today!

Brett Colbeth

“The arts provide a more comprehensive and insightful education because they invite students to explore the emotional, intuitive, and irrational aspects of life that science is hard pressed to explain. “

-Charles Fowler

The Antaeus Company

Artists-in-Residence Program



Shakes Alive! Is the education outreach program run by the nationally-renowned Antaeus Theatre Company.  Dedicated classical theater actors, many of whom are recognizable from TV and film as well, encourage students in non-theater classes to dive into Shakespeare and other classic plays.  Students discover how actors breathe life into these texts, and then they do it themselves.  By analyzing rich, dense language, absorbing its meaning and beauty, and then performing it with energy and emotional truth, students gain confidence — and a deep appreciation for some of humanity’s greatest works of art.


Our Lead Teacher works closely with your teachers to choose a text to bring to life in each class.   Perhaps in an English class students are studying THE TEMPEST, THE CRUCIBLE, or ROMEO AND JULIET.  In a science class, we can introduce a play to like the Pulitzer Prize-winning COPENHAGEN, which explores the concept of objectivity both in science and in our moral lives.

Each week one or two professional, successful actors visit to share their process in mining and examining a role.  Students participate in acting games, improvisation, and “direct” the actors as they make choices about their performances.  In so doing, students learn that they have power both as artists and readers, and that classic plays are dynamically relevant and exciting.

For more information, please email

Antaeus at Cleveland High School: King Lear