Shakespeare Fellowship Essay Contests

A Room of Her Own is pleased to announce the Shakespeare’s Sister Playwriting Fellowship, an unparalleled opportunity for a woman playwright  living in the United States to hone her craft and develop a new play in the course of a year-long engagement with three world-class organizations.

In addition to $10,000 the cash prize, the winner will be awarded a residency with the Hedgebrook community in the spring of 2015, a spot in AROHO’s biennial Retreat for Women Writers at Ghost Ranch in August 2015, and a project residency with the Lark Play Development Center in the fall. All travel expenses will be covered.

Developed in order to nurture the generation and development of new work by female playwrights, supporting the winner from inspiration all the way to working with professional actors and directors to realize that vision, the Shakespeare’s Sister Fellowship will join the ranks of AROHO’s other coveted awards—including the $50,000 Gift of Freedom, the $1,000 To the Lighthouse Poetry Publication Prize, and the Orlando Prizes in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

The fellowship’s creator and mentor is Ellen McLaughlin, original “Angel in America,” renowned playwright, and long-time AROHO advisor. 

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf writes, “if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down.” The Shakespeare’s Sister Fellowship seeks to establish that habit of freedom, to make possible that courage.

The fellowship will be awarded to one woman on the basis of merit and readiness to commit to writing a play during the fellowship year. The deadline for the first round of applications is July 31st.  In addition to a few short essay responses, applicants must submit an excerpt from a full-length play. The excerpt and any explanatory material are not to exceed 30 pages. Successful applicants will be asked to submit another written response and the full-length play (from which the first 30 page excerpt was taken) by September 1st. The winner will be announced on November 1st.

Click here for more submission guidelines and to apply.

The movie "Anonymous" can inspire students to critical thinking and writing

Students in Los Angeles recently made the news by protesting the movie “Anonymous” and its premise that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by another man.

Students from every state, and country, are invited to participate in a Shakespeare authorship essay contest being presented by the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society. Arizona students, take note.

Presenters say the contest, held annually since 2002, is designed to “involve students in the creative and analytical synthesis of knowledge about Shakespeare, the Shakespeare Canon, and the Shakespeare Authorship Question.” 

Contest organizers hope that “teachers the world over will find that this essay contest is a useful resource for stimulating thinking, discussion and the development of analytic and critical thinking skills.”

Essays for the 2012 contest must be submitted electronically by Dec. 17, 2012. Contestants must be between the ages of 14 – 19 and/or enrolled in high school grades 9 – 12, in public or private schools in the year 2012. Homeschoolers are welcome. College freshmen may enter if they were graduating seniors in the spring of 2012.

Students must write about one of four topics noted by contest presenters. Two address authorship-related issues. One considers the role of women in Shakespearean literature. And another deals specifically with the movie “Anonymous.”

All essays must be typed, double-spaced in written in English. Expository essays should conform to the APA or MLA style sheets specified by contest presenters. Essays must run between 750 and 3000 words, and each contestant can enter only one piece. Sponsors expect to award a total of $3,000 in prize money.

Essays will be judged on originality of thought, insight into Shakespearean interpretation (most especially as it relates to the authorship question), effective and logical development of thesis, consideration of contrary evidence, effective use of resources and elegance of style. All essays must be the original work of the entrant.

Interested teachers, students and parents can click here to learn more about the contest, and to find related resources such as recommended readings and websites. Although the deadline is more than a year away, presenters note that submissions are welcome before the deadline. I suspect that reading submissions over time is a great deal more enjoyable than facing a huge pile of last-minute entries.

I was surprised when I won an essay contest early in my college career, but glad I had followed my mother’s advice by submitting an entry. So few people ever enter such things, she told me, and your chances of winning are much greater than you might imagine.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about education programs offered by Arizona’s own Southwest Shakespeare Company in Mesa.

Coming up: What’s your border?

Tags: Anonymous, arts in Mesa, Edward de Vere, essay contest, Shakespeare and women, Shakespeare authorship, Shakespeare Fellowship, Shakespeare movie, Shakespeare Oxford Society, Southwest Shakespeare Company, student programs, writing contest

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