Georgia Teen Wins National AUGUST WILSON MONOLOGUE COMPETITION
Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theatres announce the winners for the 11th Annual August Wilson Monologue Competition National Finals, held on Monday, May 6th at the August Wilson Theatre in New York. The first-place winner was Trajan Clayton from Perry, GA; second-place, Katara Willis from Buffalo, NY; and third place, Abad Viquez from Chicago, IL.
The first and second place winners from Georgia's Regional August Wilson Monologue Competition, Trajan Clayton and Michael Cook, respectively, traveled with True Colors' Director of Education, Nikki Toombs, to New York to compete in the national semi-finals against competitors from cities around the country. In addition to the Georgia teens, the event featured high school students from Boston, MA; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Los Angeles, CA; New Haven, CT; New York, NY; Greensboro, NC; Pittsburgh, PA; and Seattle, WA performing monologues from the legendary American playwright August Wilson's American Century Cycle.
Trajan Clayton, who has competed in the Regional August Wilson Monologue competition for two years, won third place his first year. This was his first year representing True Colors in the national semi-finals and finals. Clayton portrayed Caesar Wilks from Wilson's Gem of the Ocean. He remarked, this process has taught me so much about acting and what it means to be an actor. I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity, as unreal as it seems!
This experience helped me to understand the balance between preparation and enjoying the moment, to embrace the entire experience of the competition and not just focus on being the winner, Michael Cook, who performed a monologue as Toledo from Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, shared. I see the greatness that lies within me. As a young black man in the arts, my appreciation for August Wilson's work was my greatest takeaway. This was Cook's third time participating in the Regional August Wilson Monologue Competition and first representing True Colors in the national semi-finals and finals.
These two competitors made my job easy, gushed Nikki Toombs, True Color' Director of Education. They both come from theatre programs that demonstrate the power of the arts to impact lives. Though they are both great talents, they needed to realize there was room for growth. I helped them understand the story the antecedent situation for their characters and the variance and subtleties of the language. These young men went to New York and walked in the spirit of boldness while maintaining humility in their greatness. They both represented True Colors well.
The evening was hosted by Tony Award Winner Kenny Leon and Russell Hornsby (Fences, The Hate U Give) with special musical guest Guy Davis. The panel of celebrity judges included Narda E. Alcorn (Production Stage Manager: Choir Boy, The Iceman Cometh), Quincy Tyler Bernstine (Marys Seacole), Danielle Brooks (Tony Award Nominee: The Color Purple, Orange is the New Black ), Roslyn Ruff (Fairview, X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation) and Pauletta Washington (Beloved).
ABOUT THE August Wilson MONOLOGUE COMPETITION
Founded in 2007, August Wilson Monologue Competition aims to expose a new generation of creative minds to the life's work and artistic legacy of this seminal American playwright. Program participants in cities across the country encountered Wilson's ten-play cycle and received coaching from teaching artists as they prepared their monologues for local, city-wide and national competitions.
Among those who have previously lent their support as performers, judges and guests are Phylicia Rashad, Russell Hornsby, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Scott Rudin, Guy Davis, Lynn Nottage, Lynda Gravatt, Keith Randolph Smith, Tamara Tunie, Katori Hall, Maurice Hines, Roslyn Ruff, Crystal Dickinson, Brandon J. Dirden, Chris Chalk, LaTanya Richardson, Heather Alicia Simms, Pauletta Washington, and Mykelti Williamson, among others. In the past, students have had the opportunity to spend time with other prominent Broadway performers over the course of the weekend, including Kerry Washington and Daniel Radcliffe.
This year's competition afforded students from these cities around the country the opportunity to attend a Broadway show, The Prom; work closely with both of Wilson's closest collaborators and August Wilson Monologue Competition co-founders, director Kenny Leon and dramaturg and director Todd Kreidler; took part in an August Wilson master class with True Colors' Director of Education, Nikki Toombs; and explored popular Manhattan attractions before making their Broadway stage debuts. The two finalists from each regional city competed in national semi-finals, with 15 students advancing to the finals on the August Wilson Stage on Monday evening, May 6th.
The August Wilson Monologue Competition is also featured in The Start of Dreams , a documentary directed by The Horne Brothers. Featuring A-list actors like Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Phylicia Rashad