Eight students compete in Shakespeare competition, Alabanza takes first


Karleigh Gentry

Freshman Nina Alabanza presents a portion of The Merchant of Venice at the Shakespeare competition Dec. 5 and took first place.


As the dismissal bell sounded at 2:35 Dec. 5, eight students from various grade levels made their way towards the drama room to participate in the annual Shakespeare competition. 

Despite her preparation for the competition beforehand, junior Jalyn Sneary did not meet the expectations she had set for herself and ultimately did not place in the competition. She did, however, enjoy playing the role of Queen Margaret. 

“We had to do the monologue in my theatre class a couple times and every time we did it I expected to improve a little bit. I think I did descend on the performance, [so I wish I had done] it in front of more people so I could get different opinions on how I could improve,” Sneary said. “[Queen Margaret] talks like she’s a strong woman and not going to back down to anybody and that was not normal for those times, [so that’s why I chose that specific monologue.]”

First place winner Nina Alabanza stares down the judges during a portion of her performance.


Nina Alabanza, one of three freshmen who participated in this years competition, took first with her portrayal of Shylock from The Merchant of Venice. The decision of which monologue to present to the judges came easily to Alabanza due to a performance a year prior. 

“I had actually used that monologue for my Fine Arts audition,” Alabanza said. “The Shakespeare competition was on short notice and Mr. Gibson pulled me into it, [so I decided to use] a monologue I already had memorized. Shylock is my favorite character in my favorite play and this is my favorite monologue of all time and I already felt a really deep connection with the play The Merchant of Venice and the character Shylock.”

As a former theatre participant himself, Alabanza’s father was proud of her for taking first in the competition; furthermore, both of her parents continue to provide her with support.

“[My parents] were confused as to why it was all of a sudden a big deal because I hadn’t mentioned it before, but they’re excited that I have the opportunity to possibly compete in New York City,” Alabanza said.

Senior Gia Yoder presents her monologue from Measure for Measure to the panel of judges while junior Jalyn Sneary watches.

Senior Gia Yoder placed third in this years competition, but still values the knowledge she gained by participating in the competition. Isabella from Measure for Measure allowed Yoder to show the judges one of her strengths, dramatic acting. 

“I am more of a dramatic actor and so by choosing Isabella’s monologue I think I [was able to get] into the headspace while I was working with the text and I feel like I accessed the struggles she was facing,” Yoder said. “It’s helpful to work on the translations with Shakespeare and so doing it the past two years has allowed me more access to understanding Shakespeare and in the future having that knowledge of how to translate it will be helpful.”

One of three juniors participating in the competition, Javion Green focused on his tone while performing.

While Yoder focused on using emotions in her monologue, junior Javion Green used tone while playing Angelo from Measure for Measure. 

“I expected myself to just be loud and out there because in the monologue he’s screaming basically and saying how much power he has, so you have to be really powerful and bold; [however], I would change how I did my tone because I kind of kept the same level throughout the whole thing [and I needed to] kind of go up and down with it,” Green said.

Other students who participated in the competition were freshmen Ellie Peeks and Azalea Twining, junior Jessica Lawson and senior Kailey Pitsenbarger. As a result of winning the competition, Alabanza will compete against other students from various schools at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton Jan. 25. Whichever student wins at the Staunton competition will travel to New York City for an all expenses paid trip to compete nationally.

Placing second at the competition, freshman Azalea Twining played Lady Macbeth using lines from the play Macbeth.
Playing Katherine from The Taming of the Shrew, senior Kailey Pitsenbarger performs on the stage in the drama room after school.
Freshman Ellie Peeks adjusts her tone during her performance.
After the other students finished their performances, junior Jessica Lawson finished the competition by playing Pericles.
As a second year drama teacher at HHS, Ken Gibson smiles as the panel of judges discuss all eight performances by the students.
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