Felicia Grimes has “always had a love for poetry,” she says, but William Shakespeare? She feared she might be in over her head with the Bard.
“I was intimidated by the word Shakespeare,” said the 17-year-old Kinston High School senior. The cure for that discomfort, it turned out, was getting thrown in the deep end – as a regional winner and a national contestant in the 34th annual English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition in New York City.
“It was fun,” said Grimes, who is active in Matthew Raines’ drama classes and productions at KHS. “I met a lot of people. I believe I have grown from it.”
The road to New York and a contest judged by actors Kate Burton and Dana Ivey started at Kinston High when Grimes and classmate Victoria Kosinski tied for first at the school’s Poetry Out Loud competition. To give both a chance to advance, they split up. Kosinski went to the regional Poetry Out Loud and Grimes went to New Bern for the Shakespeare competition sponsored by the six-county Colonial NC Branch of the ESU.
Went and won.
At the nationals, held May 1 on the stage of the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, Grimes performed two monologues – Sonnet 62 and “Bottom’s Monologue” from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Of the 20,000 high school students in the nation who participated in the 2017 competition at the local, regional and national levels, Grimes finished as a national semi-finalist, one of just 54.
“It was a tremendous opportunity for a student from Kinston to be able perform on such a grand stage as Lincoln Center,” Raines, her drama teacher, said. “It definitely was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The competition was fierce, but Felicia represented Lenoir County extremely well. I am extremely proud of her.”
Grimes could justifiably be proud of herself. “Actually, it’s kind of persuading me to branch out some more,” she said. “I enjoyed it a lot.”