Sirakian Heads to National Shakespeare Competition

Eric Sirakian ’10 will represent Phillips Academy at the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition in Boston this spring. Sirakian’s love for Shakespeare and acting motivated him to ask Phillips Academy to hold open auditions for the ESU National Shakespeare Competition. This year is the first year that Phillips Academy has participated in the competition. “I think it’s important for PA to be represented. Exeter is represented and almost every other major school is represented,” says Sirakian. In hopes of making the audition an annual event, Sirakian said that “this year, it started kind of small and hopefully they’ll bring it back next year and people will be excited about it,” says Sirakian. The ESU National Shakespeare Competition has over 60 branches that are represented by around 16,000 students and 2,000 teachers; 250,000 schools in all. As the winner at Phillips Academy, Sirakian will go to the Boston to continue on with the competition. To audition, Sirakian had to memorize and perform a monologue from a Shakespearean play, and he will perform the same one for the next competition. He also had to prepare a sonnet. Sirakian plans to perform Sonnet 130, “the one where Shakespeare says my mistress is ugly and not beautiful, but at the end he says ‘that’s why I love her.’” The monologue Sirakian had prepared was Romeo’s soliloquy from Act III of Romeo and Juliet. To prepare for the audition and the competitions following, “obviously, you need to know the whole play. I worked really closely with the text, a lot of reading in between.” And the well-loved “Romeo and Juliet” was a solid choice for Sirakian, who said that it is probably his favorite play. When asked about stage frights or nervousness, Sirakian said, “I mean, [the competition] is just for fun. It’s called a competition, but it’s really just a celebration of Shakespeare.” Shakespeare is definitely a creative outlet for those who truly want to explore classic drama for the stage. A Shakespearean production guarantees every high and low of human emotions, dramatic monologues, noblemen dueling and endearing damsels in distress. Every performer is (or should be) familiar with the style of Shakespeare. “The roles in Shakespeare are really exciting because of what’s at stake, and the conflict is rich,” said Sirakian. “I think [Shakespeare] is special because it speaks to different people in so many different ways and, each time you read it, there’s a different interpretation,” he said.