Finalists Selected For CTG's Regional August Wilson Monologue Competition
Center Theatre Group, host of the August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) in Southern California, has announced that 15 finalists have been selected to compete in the AWMC regional finals to be held at the CTG/Mark Taper Forum on March 26, 2012.
The finalists were chosen after competing at the California Educational Theatre Association High School Theatre Festival on January 14 in Anaheim.
Among the 86 participants who competed, 31 schools and 37 different cities were represented. The competition was open to students in grades 10-12 in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
Each student selected a monologue to perform from August Wilson’s 10-play “Century Cycle,” an epic dramatization of the African-American experience in the 20th century.
This is the first time that Southern California students are participating in the AWMC as CTG joins the national competition with theatres from Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle and Pittsburgh. Each city runs the program differently, but the goal is the same: to introduce high school students to August Wilson’s works and help them find their own voices.
The top three Southern California regional finalists chosen in March will compete in the fifth annual AWMC national finals, to be held on May 7 at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway.
The Southern California regional finalists are Marcus Arellanes (from Los Angeles), Keanu Beausier (Alhambra), Edward Cabasal (West Covina), Tyler Edwards (Tustin), Jake Foulkes (Mira Loma), Jasmine Hogan (San Jacinto), Nicole Julian (Los Angeles), Pablo Lopez (Los Angeles), Kayla Matthews (Los Angeles), Christie Owens (Fullerton), Kara Royster (Toluca Lake), Jeffrey Sims (Fontana), Christopher Smith (Fullerton), Dominique Thompson (Los Angeles) and Rhyver White (Hawthorne).
On January 18 many of the Southern California regional finalists attended a special kick-off celebration held at Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles. At the event CTG Artistic Director Michael Ritchie remarked, “The idea that these high school students will be introduced to August Wilson’s themes, his characters and his work and will learn from this experience is incredible. It makes me extremely proud to have Center Theatre Group support this program.”
Ritchie also introduced special guest star Phylicia Rashad, whose long career in TV, film and theatre includes the role of Aunt Ester in Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean.” Rashad appeared in the 2003 Taper world premiere production and in the 2005 Broadway production, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award.
Rashad is also a member of the CTG August Wilson Advisory Committee, comprised of prominent national figures and qualified professionals who are dedicated to lending their service to arts education while furthering the legacy of August Wilson. Other members of the 2011-2012 committee include Gordon Davidson, Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance, Danai Gurira and Ben Vereen.
The 15 regional finalists will participate in four master classes lead by CTG to help refine their performance skills in preparation for the March regional finals. The top three regional finalists will receive $500, $250, and $100 scholarships, respectively, and compete in May on Broadway.
In addition to its leadership in the AWMC, CTG is also spearheading the August Wilson In-School Residency Program that involves 15-week residencies at four pilot schools. Each residency partners a CTG teaching artist with a 9th grade classroom teacher and provides opportunities for students to learn about Wilson’s work. Students from participating residency classrooms will attend the AWMC regional finals at the Taper in March.
Regional funding for the August Wilson Monologue Competition provided by CAA Foundation, Center Theatre Group Affiliates, The Dream Fund at UCLA Donor Advised Fund, Chase, Southern California Gas Company and Wells Fargo.
CTG’s AWMC participation and its Wilson in-school residencies are programs of CTG’s Education and Community Partnerships department, led by Leslie K. Johnson. Currently one of the most active theatre education programs in the country, CTG’s Education and Community Partnerships Department reached 18,886 students, teachers and community members from 118 schools throughout Southern California in the 2010-2011 season. The department is dedicated to the development of artists, educators and young people’s skills and creativity through the exploration of theatre, its literature, art and imagination.
The inspiration for the AWMC was sparked in 2007 in Atlanta by Wilson’s long-time collaborators Kenny Leon and Todd Kreidler of True Colors Theatre Company. Modeled after Pittsburgh Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare Monologue and Scene contest, the AWMC utilizes performance tools and text analysis to help students explore the interior lives of August Wilson’s characters and study the social, economic and historical realities they inhabit. Funding for the national August Wilson Monologue Competition comes from Publix Supermarket Charities, Massey Charitable Trust, Bank of America, The Imlay Foundation, Kathleen Rios, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
CTG maintained a long relationship with August Wilson, presenting seven of his plays. In addition to “Jitney,” “King Hedley II” (Tony Award nomination for Best Play), “Gem of the Ocean” and “Radio Golf” at the Mark Taper Forum, CTG presented the Tony Award-nominated “Seven Guitars” at the Ahmanson Theatre and “Two Trains Running” and “The Piano Lesson” (1990 Pulitzer Prize) at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood.