Regional Finalists Compete Tonight in CTG's August Wilson Monologue Competition
Center Theatre Group has announced that 12 students have been selected to participate in the August Wilson Monologue Competition Los Angeles regional finals to be held at the CTG/Mark Taper Forum today, March 11, 2014. L.A.'s AWMC, part of a larger national program, is hosted by Center Theatre Group and presented by the Center Theatre Group Affiliates.
"I'm so happy for our regional finalists as they embark on their exciting journey to the stage of CTG's Mark Taper Forum," says CTG's Director of Education and Community Partnerships Leslie K. Johnson. "Performing in our iconic theatre will be an experience to cherish, but even more importantly these students will gain confidence and a deeper appreciation for August Wilson - a significant African-American playwright about whom we believe every young person should know."
The Los Angeles regional finalists are Maggie Cannan (Studio City), Lana Cosic (Pasadena), Erendira Di Giuseppe (Los Angeles), Jonah Gould (Los Angeles), Wayne Mackins-Harris (Los Angeles), Ayanna McKnight (Pomona), Wendy Morrow (Los Angeles), Leaf Rickard (Burbank), Derrick Rose (Yucaipa), Shan Shaikh (Panorama City), Mykaela Sterris (Fullerton) and Taylor Walker (Pacoima). They represent Fullerton Union High School, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Notre Dame Academy, Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, The School of Arts and Enterprise and Yucaipa High School.
The students were chosen on January 18 after performing in the semi-finals held at the California Educational Theatre Association High School Theatre Festival in Anaheim.
A preliminary audition was hosted in November by Center Theatre Group. More than 100 students participated, representing 34 schools and 39 different cities. The program 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 playwright August Wilson's 10-play "Century Cycle," an epic dramatization of the African-American experience in the 20th century.
This is the third year that CTG has been the Southern California home for the national program, which includes theatres from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Portland and Seattle. Each city runs the program differently, but the goal is the same: to introduce high school students to August Wilson's works and the African-American perspectives he chronicles as well as help students of all backgrounds explore their own creativity.
The top three Los Angeles regional finalists chosen in March will travel to New York to perform for a chance to participate in the seventh annual AWMC national finals, to be held on May 5 at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway.
The 12 regional finalists will participate in four master classes led by CTG to help explore the content and refine their performance skills in preparation for the March regional finals. The top three finalists will win cash prizes and a trip to New York City, where the top two students will compete in the national finals with the third student serving as alternate and participant in a performance montage.
In addition to its leadership in the AWMC, CTG also spearheads the August Wilson In-School Residency Program that involves 15-week residencies at four schools. Each residency partners a CTG teaching artist with a high school classroom teacher and allows for students to explore all ten plays of Wilson's "Century Cycle." Students and teachers from participating residency classrooms will attend the AWMC regional finals at the Taper in March.
Regional funding for the August Wilson Monologue Competition is provided by the Center Theatre Group Affiliates, the Dream Fund at UCLA Donor Advised Fund, Friars Charitable Foundation, William Randolph Hearst Foundation, HUB International Insurance, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund and Wells Fargo Foundation.
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 19,920 students, teachers and community members throughout Southern California in the 2012-2013 season.
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 Delta Air Lines, Macy's, Publix Supermarket Charities, Massey Charitable Trust, Bank of America, and The Imlay Foundation.
CTG has had a long relationship with the work of August Wilson, presenting eight of his plays. In addition to "Jitney," "King Hedley II" (Tony Award nomination for Best Play), "Gem of the Ocean" (world premiere production), "Radio Golf" (world premiere production) and "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" 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.