August Wilson Monologue Competition Set for Calderwood Pavilion, 2/1
Huntington Theatre Company presents the Boston competition of Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC), celebrating the writing of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright. Over 500 high school students from eleven Boston Public Schools will compete in the Boston Final competition on Saturday, February 1 at the Huntington's Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The competition is free and open to the public.
The top three winners will be awarded all-expense-paid trips to the National Final on May 5, 2014 at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre where they will compete with regional finalists from across the nation. Airfare, hotel accommodations, workshops, and performance tickets will be provided in collaboration with Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theatres. The national competition is also free and open to the public.
The following schools are participants this year: Academy of the Pacific Rim, Another Course to College, Boston Adult Technical Academy, Boston Day and Evening Academy, Brighton High School, Codman Academy Charter Public School, Dorchester Academy, Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, McKinley South End Academy, New Mission High School, and Snowden International School at Copley.
In preparation, Huntington Education Department staff and teaching artists have been visiting weekly since last October to introduce Wilson and the ten plays of his Century Cycle about the 20th century African-American experience, as well as to support script analysis and character development and coach students in their performances in preparation for the competition.
In competition, students perform a two to three-minute monologue of their choosing from one of the ten plays. A panel of theatre and education professionals judges contestants on the basis of preparedness, understanding of the text, emotional connection to the material, and commitment to the performance. Judges at the Boston competition include local playwright and actor Obehi Janice, local playwright Terrence Kidd, EdVestors BPS Arts Expansion Director Ruth Mercado Zizzo, and Huntington Trustee Joie LeMaitre.
The Huntington enjoyed a special relationship with August Wilson and his work, beginning in 1986 with a production of Joe Turner's Come and Gone, his third play. For 25 years, the Huntington served as an artistic home to Wilson, developing and premiering seven of the ten plays of his Century Cycle during his life and producing three after his death.
Wilson's Century Cycle is a singular achievement in American theatre. Each of the ten plays is set in a different decade of the 20th century. At the plays' core are soaring, lyrical monologues that take the song, laughter, pain, and rich content of African-American life and place it in the mouths of the most varied ensemble of characters written since Shakespeare.
The competition's inspiration was sparked by two of August Wilson's closest living collaborators: Kenny Leon (director of Stick Fly at the Huntington and on Broadway) and Todd Kreidler. Leon worked closely with Wilson directing many of the Century Cycle plays on Broadway and at major regional theatres, including the Huntington. True Colors Associate Artistic Director Kreidler served as dramaturg for Wilson's last play and director of his one-man show.
"The goal of the competition is to build partnerships with schools and theatres across the United States and to create educational materials about August Wilson that allow students to connect these important theatre works with educational curricula in history, social studies, and literature," said Kreidler, Associate Artistic Director of Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company. "This monologue competition offers students of all races the opportunity to inhabit the lives and speak the words of these vital, lively characters."
"I've felt the power that August Wilson's words have on students firsthand in the more than 20 years the Huntington has produced his plays," says Donna Glick, Director of Education at the Huntington. "His plays are poetry, and young people are hungry to inhabit the rich characters he creates."
Funding for the Boston regional August Wilson Monologue Competition is provided by EdVestors BPS Arts Expansion Initiative.
For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org/awmc and truecolorstheatre.org/august-wilson-monologue-competition.