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THS senior taking sonnet, monologue to NYC

In April, Katey Merrick will represent Oregon in a national competition
by: Barbara Sherman, THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT — THS senior Katey Merrick can’t use props when she performs her monologue from “Richard III” at the National Shakespeare Competition, but she got in the spirit of the play last week with a skull borrowed from the THS lab.

TIGARD - Tigard High School senior Katey Merrick doesn't give up, and her persistence - not to mention talent - has finally paid off.

Merrick is headed off on an all-expense-paid trip to New York City to represent Oregon in the annual National Shakespeare Competition, which is sponsored by the English Speaking Union of the United States.

Schools hold their own competitions, in which students must memorize and perform a Shakespearean monologue and a sonnet, and the winners from each school then go to the state competition.

THS has been participating in the Oregon program, sponsored by the union's Portland branch, for the last five years, according to Matthew Wilson, a THS language arts instructor who was Merrick's teacher during her sophomore year.

Wilson conducts the THS competition, recruits the judges and coaches the students. This year's Oregon competition was held March 3 at the Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland

'We held our school competition last December, and eight competed this year,' he said. 'We'd like more to do it, but the kids who participated enjoyed it. My hope is that with Katey winning, there will be more interest next year.

'Most of the students who do it are involved in theater, and some are involved in speech. The monologue is pretty much acting, but no costumes or props are allowed. However, students can move anyway they want and use pantomime. They also can use the stage any way they want. Katey moves around a lot and gets down on her knees. The sonnet, on the other hand, is more of a recitation.'

Merrick won the THS competition as a sophomore and won again as a junior, when she was the state runner-up.

'This year as a senior, she won,' Wilson said. 'We were really excited. It's a big accomplishment and hard to do.'

Merrick is looking forward to her trip to New York, which will take place April 21 to 24, when she will participate in a workshop, see a Broadway play ('Spamalot') and compete to perform her sonnet and monologue on a Lincoln Center stage.

She has come a long way since her sophomore year when she remembers, 'I didn't even place at the state competition. Most of the kids were juniors.'

'Last year, when I was a junior, I came in second in state. This year, I won.'

Her monologue is from 'Richard III,' and Merrick chose a scene in which Lady Anne is yelling at Richard, who has killed her father and husband, although she marries him later in the scene.

She also recites Sonnet 113, which is a soliloquy where a couple is separated from each other and the man keeps seeing the woman everywhere.

'I read one Shakespeare play every year, and our (THS) theater did 'Much Ado About Nothing' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' so I'm kind of familiar with Shakespeare,' Merrick said. 'This year I wanted to do something different.

'In New York, they will choose six to 10 finalists to perform on stage. We will do our two prepared pieces plus a cold reading.'

This won't be Merrick's first trip to New York - she actually was there recently to visit the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where she hopes to go to school after she graduates from THS.

'I'm pretty sure I'm going to be accepted,' she said last week. 'I'm waiting for my acceptance letter. I will be an officer in the Army, but I also want to become a doctor.'

At THS, Merrick has played the French horn in the marching band and is in all advanced classes.

'Hopefully, I'll get a 4 point this term,' she said.