Sophomore wins regional monologue competition


Lauren Rainey has always loved acting. The sophomore did the CAST theater program at Percy Julian Middle school for three years and has done two shows at OPRF. But not even she would have thought she would have won the Chicago Regional for the ESU Shakespeare Monologue Competition.

The Shakespeare Club at OPRF is open to anyone but also has an audition for their competitive slam team, which competes in the fall. They also hold the school Shakespeare monologue competition, with the winner advancing to the Chicago Regional competition.

“Some people (in the club) have been reading Shakespeare from the womb and some are just looking for a club that’s different,” says the club’s sponsor and English teacher James Bell. “It’s a nice, wide range.”

Rainey is one of the club’s members who has Shakespeare experience. Her father exposed her to Shakespeare at a young age, and she fell in love with Shakespeare’s stories. “’I’ve had a fascination with Shakespeare since about fourth grade when my father started a Shakespeare club at my elementary school,” she says. “I always had it in my head that I’d audition for the Shakespeare slam team once I got to high school.”

When the slam team held auditions in the fall, Rainey made the team. “She’s super open to her teammates, and she’s also very prepared for her own stuff,” says Bell.

Although Rainey envisioned herself being on the slam team, she found out about the ESU monologue competition last minute. “That really just happened because my friend sent me a poster she found in the hallway advertising the competition,” she says. “I didn’t have much time to actually think about it, I just did it.”

Because she only had a day and a half to submit her audition, she picked a monologue she had already memorized: Puck’s epilogue from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “I love the monologue, and that’s why I memorized it in the first place, but it was also the easiest one to do off the top of my head,” she said. She also performed Sonnet 46 in her submission.

“To prepare, I think it’s kind of unfair, because I have my own personal Shakespeare coach in my dad,” she says. “We ran the monologue and the sonnet in my basement multiple times, and he’d give me notes and I’d try to apply them.”

Rainey also found that Bell was helpful throughout the process. “Mostly, he has been my guide through this, because I’ve never done it before. He shows me the ins and outs of the competition and how to submit stuff and when to submit stuff,” she said.

After winning the school monologue competition, Rainey entered the Chicago branch of the competition, which encompassed schools from northern Illinois. “After winning regionals, I was ecstatic. I didn’t think that what I turned in was my best work, so I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it,” she said.

After her victory, Rainey moved on to the national competition, where Bell says there are only about 43 participants. The national competition is usually in New York but is virtual this year. “She is in like the top three or four percent of people in this competition,” Bell says. “Lauren is the fourth student that we have or would have sent there (New York).”

As just a sophomore, Rainey hopes to continue acting in high school and perhaps beyond.

“In terms of an acting career, I’d love to actually have one. I think it would be amazing to actually make money doing something I love so much,” she said.