Hundreds of high school students will descend on Cedar City the weekend of Oct. 2-3 to compete for awards and scholarships in the 20th annual Utah Shakespearean Festival/Southern Utah University High School Shakespearean Competition.

Schools from throughout the Rocky Mountain region will compete in solo acts, duo/trio scenes and ensemble acts. For the competition, the schools are organized into three divisions, based on student enrollment: Westminster, up to 800 students; Cambridge, 801 to 1,700; and Oxford, enrollment of 1,701 or more.All three of the festival's stages are used for the various events. Performers are judged in three different rounds by theater professionals, including several actors from the 1998 USF company. The judges then coach or mentor the competitors before they move on to another round.

Students and teachers attending the event also have an opportunity to study audition techniques and work on characterizations during various workshops.

"Visitors consider the workshops the most valuable part of the experience," said R. Scott Phillips, festival managing director. University credit is available for teachers and students attending the workshops, as well as for those participating in the competition.

The competition was organized in 1977 by Fred C. Adams, festival founder and executive producer, and Ray Jones of Provo High School.

Adams notes that "the purpose of the competition is to expose high school students and teachers to the value and qualities of Shakespeare in a positive and artistic manner, giving them the opportunity to apply the basic dramatic skills they are learning to Shakespeare's language."

In the past, the competition has attracted up to 50 schools from Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and California.

"Drama teachers from the area feel this is an exceptional opportunity for their students - and for themselves - to come and be challenged, enriched and rewarded," said Phillips.

For further information about the competition, contact Anne Marie Gardner in the USF's office of education at 1-435-865-8473.