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Look out New York, here comes Kelsea with Shakespeare

For Kelsea Tate, Ridgeway High School senior, Shakespeare has opened many doors. “I love all of Shakespeare’s plays,” Tate said.

by Christian Ross
Special to the Tri-State Defender

For many high school students – and adults – the name William Shakespeare brings back memories of late nights and hours spent studying, but for Kelsea Tate, Ridgeway High School senior, Shakespeare has opened many doors.


“I love all of Shakespeare’s plays,” Tate said as she navigated through the 38 plays the author penned during his life, before naming “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “Romeo & Juliet” as her favorites.

Under the guidance of Julie Watson, Ridgeway High School theatre instructor, Tate entered the 2012 English-Speaking Union Shakespeare Competition. The ESU competitions consist of students performing and analyzing monologues. Tate performed and showcased her comprehension of the literature, which helped her win awards at the school and regional-levels before advancing to the national competition.

“I think I blacked out for about two minutes,” said Tate. “I was so certain they were going to call this other girl’s name, but when they called my name I was just lost!”

Nearly 16,000 students participated in nationwide competitions this semester leading up to the 2012 ESU National Shakespeare Competition April 22-24 in New York City. Being one of 50 students expected to participate in the national event, Tate described her selection as very humbling.

“It could have easily been anyone else on that stage, but they voted for me to not only represent this district, but to represent Memphis entirely,” she said.

Tate added that this wasn’t her first attempt at the ESU competition. In her sophomore year of high school she tried her hand at the school-wide competition, but failed to advance. Despite her past setback, her dedication and passion for the stage has never wavered. In fact, as early as she can remember, she was always drawn to the stage and the spotlight.

“When I was really young, like kindergarten age, my best friend and I would put on skits for our parents,” she said. “We would write out scenes and little musical numbers on our own.”

Between her childhood and senior year of high school, Kelsea said she has participated in so many plays and musicals that she has lost count, but one thing is for certain; she knows it’s “a lot.”

Since learning of her upcoming trip to New York, she has spent the last few weeks preparing and revising her monologue based on the judges’ feedback she received at the regional competition. Even with a month to prepare, she still can’t help but feel nervous.

When she arrives at nationals, she will draw inspiration from these words from her mother:

“Kelsea, don’t listen to what anyone else tells you. I don’t care what name is on the front of this building, you are the star here. Everyone in that audience is here to see you. This is your stage.”


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