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Principia School
Greatness Thrust Upon Her: Junior Nne Ezi Competes in New York Shakespeare Competition

Nne Ezi performing at the National Shakespeare Competition in New York. Photo by Gabe McManus. 


You are in New York, standing in the wings of the Lincoln Center Theater. You are moments away from performing a Shakespearean soliloquy in front of a panel of judges consisting of Broadway actors and producers. You are one of over 40 performers, assembled from around the country—all talented in their own right. You are the last to take the stage. Would you be nervous?

For Upper School junior Nne Ezi, it was nothing she couldn’t handle. “She has an easy confidence,” says Upper School Theatre teacher, Gabe McManus (C’95). “I asked her about it later, and she said, ‘No, I wasn't nervous.’” 

Nne Ezi’s performance at the English-Speaking Union’s (ESU) National Shakespeare Competition in New York represented more than a performance on a stage. It was also Principia’s first time competing at the national level in the competition, one in which Nne Ezi wasn’t originally slated to attend. “Another student won our School competition,” says McManus. “But then the branch-level competition said, ‘Bring your runner up.’ I asked the [Advanced Theatre Arts class] if anyone was interested… and Nne Ezi said ‘I’ll go!’ … She ended up winning the St. Louis competition and moving on to the national stage in New York.” Greatness was quite literally thrust upon her. 

Nne Ezi’s performances of the monologue “Parolles” from As You Like It and Sonnet No. 58 won her a trip to New York, where she participated in workshops with professionals and even saw a Broadway play. To prepare her for this opportunity, McManus recruited Principia College theatre professor Trish Brown (C’91) and one of the branch competition judges to help Nne Ezi workshop her piece. “It’s not about my inspiration, it’s about helping the actor discover their own inspiration. I give them the freedom, space, and opportunities to [discover it] themselves.” 

Of the achievement, McManus says “I think this is a credit to the students, their energy, and their love of theatre and performing. …It was such a valuable experience for a Principia student to go to New York, see a Broadway show, and work with renowned teachers. …My hope for the future is that we can go back.” 

Congratulations to Nne Ezi for this incredible achievement!