Wingate, local students pay homage to Shakespeare - myfoxcarolinas.com

Wingate, local students pay homage to Shakespeare

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Performing for an audience brings a whirlwind of emotions.

"Seinfeld has that joke that the No. 1 fear in America is public speaking," actor Matt Burke said. "So if you're at a funeral, you'd rather be the person inside the box than the person giving the eulogy."

Matt was brought in to judge Wingate University's 30th Annual Shakespeare Competition. Middle and high schoolers from all over North Carolina gathered on Thursday to compete by reciting and acting out their favorite parts of Shakespeare's work.

Brad Kessling, Alex Woodcook and Jacob McHugh took home first, second and third place, respectively, for the high school bracket.

"It's easy to get really nervous," Woodcook said. "Like before I go on stage I am sweating up a storm but once I get on stage I just leave it all behind me and focus on what has to be done -- and I have fun. Shakespeare is not nerdy. It's fun. If you want to do it, do it."

Woodcook performed "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Bottom's monologue. In her performance, she killed herself, body flailing all over the stage as her peers laughed at the dark humor of her performance.

"Most of the people I think in my first group thought I was a little nuts," Woodcook said.

But her performance showed just what it takes to be successful in acting -- leaving all reservations and anxieties backstage, and performing with raw, emotion -- whether it's serious or comical.

"Getting on the stage is one thing," Burke said. "Being vulnerable on stage...to really share or open up the parts of yourself, and get intimate with an audience...to do it in a public place, that's really, really hard."

Kessling played a court jester. Winning first place, he will now go on to New York to compete in the national competition. He had no idea he would place in the competition, let alone win the entire thing.

The stage was his element. He danced, fluctuated his voice with a handful of moods and embraced the spotlight. 

"In my performance today I worked a lot on just trying to use my movement to display the type of character I was playing," Kessling said.

Shakespeare has been taught in classrooms and on stages for hundreds of years. These young adults have embraced his work and display nothing but confidence in doing so. It's tough to be in the spotlight, but for some, it's just natural.

To be or not to be?

There is no questioning the confidence of these kids and their skills.
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