At 2 a.m. in a dark room of her house, Class of 2023 Cadet Hannah Lamb set up a video camera, put on a makeshift costume and began to recite lines from Shakespeare’s “Othello.”She played the role of Iago, the play’s villain, as he lays out his scheme to take down Othello, the main protagonist in the play. Her costume consisted of a vest and scarf she pulled out of her closet and a National Honor Society cord left over from her high school graduation. She used a chess set to symbolize the pieces of Iago’s plan and a candle served as the only source of light during the eerie scene.The final video was her submission to the Academy Idol Shakespeare monologue competition hosted annually by the U.S. Military Academy’s Department of English and Philosophy on Projects Day. Typically, the competition is held in Robinson Auditorium with 10 cadets performing in-person monologues in front of judges from the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Company.With the cadets spread throughout the country due to COVID-19, the department decided to host a virtual contest and have competitors submit videos of themselves performing monologues. During a normal year, each instructor of EN102, the introduction to literature course taught to plebes, nominates one cadet to compete in the contest based on how they perform when reciting memorized monologues in class during the semester. The department then holds quarterfinals and semifinals to choose the top 10 who compete on Projects Day for a chance to be named Academy Idol.Because the virtual contest had no time constraints, the competition was opened up to the entire plebe class this year and 67 cadets made monologue videos.The cadets were given the option to use the same monologue from class or choose a new one to perform in their videos. The cadets weren’t required to memorize the monologue for the video, but they were encouraged to be as creative a possible while confined at home due to the pandemic.Capt. Steven Thomas, who teaches EN102 and ran the contest, said it was important to the department to find a way to still hold the competition because it is their only show on Projects Day and the one presentation plebes are able to participate in on that day.While there are typically some costumes during the in-person performances, Thomas said it was a “blast” to the see the creativity of the cadets on display while performing their monologues in a new way.“This is such a cornerstone of the department,” Thomas said. “We decided that no matter the constraints, we wanted this sort of outlet for students to perform and express themselves especially when they don’t have the opportunity to do so otherwise.”Lamb showed off her creativity and technical skills by filming a video by herself in the middle of the night. Class of 2023 Cadet Chris Barrett, on the other hand, enlisted the help of his brothers, his sister and his mom to bring his scene from “Henry the Fifth” to life.Barrett’s mom ran the camera, his brothers played knights and his sister portrayed the enemy while he played King Henry giving a speech to motivate his knights for battle. The scene started on the family’s back porch where he gave the majority of his speech to motivate his knights. They then stormed down the steps as he held his sword high and his brothers mounted an attack on the playset in the backyard where his sister was hiding.Barrett said he originally picked the scene because he enjoyed the fact that it had a motivating speech before a battle, but after performing it he learned from his grandmother that he had an ancestor who fought in the battle for England and allegedly captured the Duke of France.“It was fun for the family to get a little break because they’re all doing school,” Barrett said. “We’ve just been doing stuff together and it was fun to have that whole thing and I think everyone enjoyed it. I think it was definitely a good break to do an event that was kind of fun and to dress up and just do something I thought was a little funny and little goofy.”Class of 2023 Cadet Mark Bobinski also enlisted the help of family to make his scene come alive. His brother ran the camera and his mom served as the production assistant holding up cue cards in case he forgot a line. He chose to portray Richard the Third from the play “Henry the Sixth.” He built his costume from a robe, an old beanie belonging to his dad and a Cleveland Browns scarf to pay homage to his favorite team.“I thought it was awesome, because I think it’s a little change of pace as to how we’re conducting the online learning,” Bobinski said. “A lot of it is you read a book, you either take a test, write an essay or do something monotonous that you don’t necessarily have a lot of fun doing. This one is a little spark to the day where you got to take a little time to be creative and look for something that you thought would really spice up what you’re doing. You could really put your own little touch on what you’re doing.”Out of the 67 submissions, Barrett, Bobinski and Lamb all made the top 12 with Lamb being named the 2020 Academy Idol for her performance.“I’m close to a couple actors in my life and we were laughing at my lack of acting ability when I made the video,” Lamb said. “It was a little bit of a shock for me, I’m not going to lie. I was not very good in my in-class recitation, but I can make a video pretty well. So, I guess that went over well with the instructors.”The top 12 monologues are available on the Department of English and Philosophy’s YouTube page and are titled, “Shakespeare Showcase.”