MINDSET THAT LED ONE DISTRICT STUDENT TO SUCCESS
Ciara LaTouche, a 2019 graduate of Royal Palm Beach Community High School, recently placed as a semifinalist at the 36th annual National Shakespeare Competition in New York City. The event is a celebration of William Shakespeare's birthday, and the culmination of a year-long competition hosted by the English-Speaking Union (ESU).
“I feel so lucky, honored, and privileged to have been chosen for this incredible opportunity to represent my city doing what I love, reciting Shakespeare,” LaTouche said. “It’s honestly a blur to me, which is a sign that I was over the moon.”
LaTouche competed against dozens of other students from around the country, after winning the regional ESU Palm Beach Branch Shakespeare Competition earlier this year. Annually, more than 20,000 high school students participate in the ESU’s competition at the school, regional, and national level.
As part of the competition, students perform a monologue and recite a sonnet from Shakespeare. They are then judged on their understanding of the text and their ability to communicate their interpretation to the audience.
LaTouche performed a monologue by the character Trinculo from Act 2 Scene 2 of The Tempest, as well as Sonnet 127 of Shakespeare's sonnets. Her monologue performance already had a successful track record, having earned her a first place finish in the Alan Lebow Shakespeare Contest held at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts back in February.
“I really love the monologue and I love performing it,” LaTouche said. “I chose Sonnet 127 mostly because I wanted to truly challenge myself and do a sonnet that is not widely known or performed. And it poses questions about true and artificial beauty and why there is a rubric for beauty in the first place.”
As a relatively new performer accustomed to backstage jobs and playwriting, LaTouche was not used to being on stage. She would get incredibly nervous, but found a way to ensure that her nerves didn’t get the best of her. “I close my eyes and take a deep breath,” LaTouche said. “As I exhale, open my eyes and relax my body, I tell myself I am confident and capable of greatness.”
As a semi-finalist, LaTouche went to New York City for two days of educational and cultural activities, including the opportunity to participate in an exclusive acting workshop. The visit was a whirlwind of excitement for her, as she had last ventured out of Florida as a fifth-grader on a safety patrol trip to Washington D.C.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I knew what I saw on television and in movies but my God, New York is so much more,” LaTouche said. I had to learn quickly that the city is not for the tender-hearted but at the same time, I decided that I want my accomplishments to lead me to New York.”
Her competition success and visit to the Big Apple have put LaTouche on a path to establishing a career in the arts. She is in the process of writing her first full-length play which she hopes to have published and produced at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
“My future goal is to continue my career in theater, I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said. “I will continue playwriting, improve my directing, and absolutely work on my acting. In theatre, you have to dream big and I refuse to dream smaller than this.”
The National Shakespeare Competition has been recognized by the Globe Center, the Children's Theatre Foundation of America, and the American Academy of Achievement. Since 1983, the English-Speaking Union has given more than 325,000 students of all backgrounds the opportunity to bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and to learn to express his words with understanding, feeling, and clarity.