National Shakespeare Recitation Competition Boston Finalist: Jonathan Drapinski

To be or not to be, a common line used in many English classes and surprisingly, a line recited by many students who are part of the Malden High School Shakespeare competition. The Shakespeare competition, similar to the annual Poetry Out Loud competition, is a recitation contest, one in which students get to take on the role of a character in one of Shakespeare’s famous plays. Play production students partake in the national Shakespeare recitation contest, and no student has made it past the second round–until this year. After the preliminary round, MHS has the privilege of sending one of its own students to the next level of the contest, the branch competition. Senior Jonathan Drapinski had been doing the Shakespeare competition ever since, “[he] was a sophomore first joining [the play production class.]” Being the school finalist for the past two years has given Drapinski the opportunity to better himself and his acting skills in order to get to the next round. “The semifinal round last year helped [him] improve [his] performance so much this year.” Drapinski recalls that, “it wasn’t until last year that [he] knew [he] wanted to move further into this competition.”
Once getting past the preliminary round of the school wide Shakespeare competition, the winning student would move onto the Branch competition and finally, the National competition. Along with Drapinski, students from 26 other schools participate in the competition and in advancing past the school wide round, the semi-finals requires students to prepare a sonnet as well as their monologue. Following the semi-finals Drapinski stated that, “only ten students move on to the final round. The finalists are asked to perform their monologue, their sonnet and a cold read,” for the final part of the competition.

In reflecting on his past experiences, Drapinski remembers that, “last year [he] performed the character Puck, from a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Although he is a very fun and animated character, he also very consistent in his tone, which makes him not a strong piece to perform.” From knowing this from the past experiences, this year he chose, “Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet, a character that has a strong arc unlike Puck. Mercutio is a very physical role, which is something [Drapinski] loves doing.”

For this year’s rounds Drapinski performed Sonnet 138 which is one that was much less energetic than his monologue as, “the sonnet is meant to contrast with your monologue, therefore [Drapinski] picked a sonnet that was more quiet and not as in your face as [his] monologue was.”

Through all of the preparation and anticipation the Shakespeare competition brings every year at MHS, Drapinski finds that, “the most enjoyable aspect of the Shakespeare competition is simply performing in front of different people every time. Its great to see how different people react to [his] pieces [and he] loves performing in the different venues. It was a chance to see how it feels to perform in a professional setting.”

Drapinski, having gone through the intense competition for a majority of his high school career, and knowing that he will graduate in the spring, feels that he is “all right with this being [his] last school-wide recitation contest. [He feels] honored to have been apart of the competition for the past three years.”

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