Shakespeare famously wrote “All the world’s a stage,” and Alex Weisskopf has certainly taken those words to heart.
Weisskopf, a senior at Veritas Preparatory, competed at The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition (ESU) at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York City. This event, which took place on April 29, is a performance-based program which allows high school students from all across the country to express their love for literature and the power of language by performing Shakespeare monologues and sonnets.
Having qualified for this competition by placing first at the ESU Branch Competition in Mesa back in February, Alex began to prepare for her Nationals’ performance with the help of her drama teachers Megan Lindsay and Anne Vogel, and actors from the Southwest Shakespeare Company. Her performance will include a monologue from “A Winter’s Tale” and “Sonnet 154.”
While it’s a challenge to balance the heavy workload as a Veritas student, memorizing more than 600 lines for a drama class production of “Trojan Women,” and preparing for this competition, Alex believes that Shakespeare is crucial to understanding acting and a stepping stone to becoming a better actor.
“I think Shakespeare is a good way to get that basis of acting,” Alex said. “If you can act Shakespeare you can act anything.”
Alex has been preparing for the competition several ways. While most take Shakespeare’s work as something purely dramatic, she carefully analyzes a text in order for a performance to seem more realistic and not just a one-dimensional monologue. She also keeps in mind how her acting appears on camera, as she is fascinated with film acting and studying behind the camera.
“A lot of people’s first instinct with Shakespeare is to be as loud and dramatic as possible,” Alex said. “I try to make it dramatic when appropriate but also use quiet intensities.”
Alex said she has always been comfortable onstage, ever since she was a toddler. She continues to strengthen her craft by acting in Veritas’ Drama Club productions, “The Sound of Music” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” While she is considering studying marketing and promotions in film during college, she says she is always drawn back to her love of acting.
“When I was a kid, I thought I was going to be a movie star,” Alex said. “I have always had acting at the forefront of my mind.”
Although there are three possible prizes at the competition, including a full scholarship to the British American Drama Academy’s summer program for first place, Alex says she will remember the amazing experience of the competition and how it has given her a sense of validation for what she loves doing so much.
“It’s giving me a new type of confidence,” Alex said. “Little 10-year-old Alex who thought she was going to be a movie star. At the very least now I know I have some talent in acting. If you work hard at something, good things will happen.”