About The Best of Shakespeare: The 2021 Yorick Awards

Welcome to the 2021 Yorick Awards, a Shakespearean awards show where:

  • you chose the categories
  • you chose the nominees
  • and after viewing the production, you get to choose the winners!

Click here to view the digital program for the show

We asked our audience to choose the categories and nominees for this all-Shakespeare awards show. The top categories and nominees chosen by our audience were:

The Funniest Scene in Shakespeare

  1. Benedick Tricked (Act 2, Scene 3 from Much Ado About Nothing). Beatrice and Benedick have been engaged in a "merry war" for years. Both of them swear they cannot abide the other, and that they have no interest in ever getting married -- which prompts Don Pedro, Benedick's friend and prince, to decide that he will "undertake one of Hercules' labors, which is to bring Signior Benedick and the Lady Beatrice into a mountain of affection" with each other. So Don Pedro recruits Benedick's friend Claudio and Beatrice's uncle Leonato to help him execute his plan to make Benedick fall in love with Beatrice...
  2. Dogberry and the Watch (Act 3, Scene 3 and Act 4, Scene 2 from Much Ado About Nothing). While Don Pedro is plotting to make Benedick and Beatrice fall in love, his brother Don John is plotting to break up the romance between Benedick's friend Claudio and Beatrice's cousin Hero. Don John's plan might have worked...if it weren't for Constable Dogberry and the watch. In these scenes. Dogberry gathers the members of the watch, gives them their instructions, and leaves them to their work of guarding the good people of Messina at night. Then, after they have captured one of Don John's henchmen, Dogberry interrogates the suspect. Our performance of these scenes this summer is being done through Zoom -- but with a playful twist on what normally can and can't be done in a Zoom setting.
  3. The Mechanicals perform "Pyramus and Thisbe" (act 1, scene 2 and act 5, scene 1 of A Midsummer Night's Dream). Nick Bottom and his merry band of amateur actors have prepared a play to be performed before the Duke and Duchess of Athens on their wedding night. Against all odds, their play is chosen as the royal entertainment for that night -- and the hilarious chaos ensues, punctuated with plenty of sarcastic commentary from the sophisticated onstage audience of noble newlyweds. Bottom and the others give it their all. What they lack in talent, skill, and experience, they more than make up for with endless enthusiasm...and lots of props. So many props. In this performance, we're going to show you parts of two scenes: the initial assignment of roles to the various actors, and the final performance. We've eliminated the other characters watching the play in the final scene, so Bottom and his crew will be performing just for you!

Shakespeare's Greatest Female Character

Shakespeare is known for creating great female characters, and this category lets us highlight three of them:

  1. Lady Macbeth. The director has chosen the letter scene, Act 1, Scene 5 of Macbeth, to represent Lady M. This is the scene where she first learns that the witches have prophesied that Macbeth would become king. She calls on dark spirits to help her do what must be done, and then takes charge when her husband arrives home...
  2. Rosalind from As You Like It. We'll be using the "love is merely a madness" scene (Act 3, Scene 2) to represent Rosalind. Rosalind, having been forced to flee into the forest while disguised as a young man, encounters Orlando there. The first time they met, at the court, sparks flew; now she has the opportunity to test out his affections for her -- but has to do it without revealing who she really is...
  3. Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice will be represented by a section of Act 4, Scene 1 from the play, in which she and Benedick express their feelings for one another -- and she tasks Benedick with helping her avenge the wrong done to her cousin Hero.

The Play We've Never Done That You Most Want To See Us Do: All's Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Ends Well is often classified as a romantic comedy, but there's something very unusual about it. In a typical romantic comedy -- Much Ado About Nothing, for example -- a couple falls in love, and something prevents them from getting married until the end. In All's Well, the opposite happens: the primary couple, Helena and Bertram, get married early on -- but something prevents them from falling in love until the end. And even then, the romance is a little...problematic. (Which is why a lot of scholars prefer to think of All's Well as one of Shakespeare's "problem plays.") This category was unique in that it involved picking a whole play, rather than a single scene or character. So we decided that's what we needed to give you -- a high-speed, super-condensed preview of the whole play!

Shakespeare's Greatest Villain

If you've seen or read a fair amount of Shakespeare, you've probably noticed certain similarities between the villains in different plays. They often speak directly to the audience, explaining their plots and bragging about how brilliant and devious they are. It's almost as if they're trying to prove to the audience what a great villain they are. In this scene, that's exactly what they're doing! We've taken ALL the top nominees and put them together into one scene -- a direct, head-to-head competition to see who can out-villain the rest! The host of the awards show will moderate, as each of the nominees uses the words Shakespeare gave them to convince you -- and each other -- that they deserve to be crowned Shakespeare's Greatest Villain. The nominees are:

  • Iago from Othello
  • Richard III
  • Edmund from King Lear
  • Tamora and Aaron from Titus Andronicus

The 2021 Yorick Awards are here! Get your tickets, watch the scenes, and then click the link at the end of the show to vote for your favorites!

About The Ithaca Shakespeare Company

The Ithaca Shakespeare Company is a regional theatre organization in Ithaca, NY. ISC has been producing a summer Shakespeare festival every year since 2003 – outdoors until 2020 – along with indoor productions during the winter at various locations around Ithaca.