Huntington Theatre Company Announces August Wilson Monologue Competition Boston Regional Winners

Huntington Theatre Company Announces August Wilson Monologue Competition Boston Regional Winners

Anotidaishe Chikunya, a senior at Dana Hall School, took first place on Monday, January 28, 2019 with her performance as Berniece from The Piano Lesson at the Boston Regional Finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition, held for the ninth year by the Education Department of the Huntington Theatre Company, the playwright's longtime artistic home. Sarah Purvis, a junior at Boston Collegiate Charter School, was named first runner-up and portrayed Black Mary from Gem of the Ocean; Osamede Izevbizua (Toledo, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), a junior at John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, was named second runner-up. The three will receive a total of $850 in prize money, and the top two winners will be awarded an all-expense-paid trip to New York City where they will perform their monologues at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre in the National Competition on May 6, 2019. Airfare, hotel accommodations, workshops, and tickets to attend a Broadway production will be provided in collaboration with Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theatres. The national competition is free and open to the public.

Boston University's Summer Theatre Institute (BUSTI) provides a full scholarship to one of the Boston regional finalists. This year's recipient Malik Mitchell (Becker, Jitney), a senior from Boston Arts Academy. BUSTI is a five-week conservatory experience for motivated high school theatre artists where students learn how to tell a dynamic story through the theatrical medium. The scholarship recipient is selected through one-on-one interviews and is separate from the results of the monologue competition. For more information, visit bu.edu/cfa/busti.

The August Wilson Monologue Competition celebrates the writing of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright. Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company (Atlanta, GA) inaugurated the competition in 2007, and this year marks the 9th year that the Huntington's Education Department has hosted the program and competition in Boston. Over 670 high school students from 18 Boston area schools participated in the program this school year; the winner of each school competition competed in a semi-final round on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at the Huntington's Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Twelve advanced to the finals on Monday, January 28, 2019.

The Huntington's Education Department staff and teaching artists visited 10 schools in the August Wilson Monologue Competition residency program weekly since October. During their school visits they introduced participating students to August Wilson and the 10 plays of his American Century Cycle centering on the 20th century African American experience. The residency curriculum included work on text analysis and characterization and one-on-one coaching with students in their performances in preparation for the competition. Teachers were also provided biographical materials on August Wilson and his history with the Huntington Theatre Company.

Due to popular demand from area high schools, the Huntington's Education Department expanded the August Wilson Monologue Competition program beyond the residency schools in 2015 and participation is open to any interested high school in the Boston or Greater Boston area. These schools are provided with all materials necessary to educate students on the life and work of August Wilson and the schools coach students for in-school competitions and the Boston Regional Finals. This year eight schools registered to participate.

The following schools were represented at the 2019 Boston Regional Finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition: Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School, Another Course to College, Brighton High School, Boston Arts Academy, Boston Collegiate Charter School, Dana Hall School, Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, Fenway High School, Dr. William W. Henderson K-12 Inclusion School, John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, Margarita Muniz Academy, and McKinley South End Academy. Judges were actor and Education Manager for Central Square Theatre, Kortney Adams, Director of Cultural Planning for the City of Boston, Courtney D. Sharpe, Executive Director of StageSource and Artistic Director of Front Porch Arts Collective, Dawn M. Simmons, and Interim Executive Director of The Theatre Offensive, Harold Steward. The accuracy judge was Anthony Beatrice, Acting Executive Director of the Arts for Boston Public Schools, and the prompter was Tracey West, Associate Dean at Boston College Law School and education committee member at the Huntington.

August Wilson's Century Cycle is a singular achievement in American theatre. Each of the 10 plays is set in a different decade of the 20th century. The Huntington had 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 in the American Century Cycle. For 25 years, the Huntington served as an artistic home to Wilson, developing and premiering eight of the ten plays of his American Century Cycle before they went on to Broadway. The Huntington completed Wilson's Century Cycle in 2012 with Wilson's first Broadway hit, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. In 2016, the Huntington produced August Wilson's memoir and final play How I Learned What I Learned, directed by August Wilson's longtime collaborator Todd Kreidler.

The competition was created by Kenny Leon (director of Stick Fly, Gem of the Ocean, and Fences at the Huntington and on Broadway and The Wiz Live! and Hairspray Live! on NBC) and Todd Kreidler (adapter of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner at the Huntington), two of August Wilson's closest collaborators. Leon worked closely with Wilson and directed many of the American 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 Radio Golf.

"The competition offers students an interactive way to learn about Wilson's work and how his plays connect with each decade in the 20th century," says Kreidler. "Students learn about history, social studies, and literature through performing monologues from Wilson's plays and studying his American Century Cycle."

Major funding for the Boston regional August Wilson Monologue Competition is provided by the Alfred E. Chase Charity Foundation, Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion Fund at EdVestors, Kingsbury Road Charitable Trust, The Lucy R. Sprague Memorial Fund, The Ramsey McCluskey Family Foundation, Rockland Trust Charitable Foundation, The Roy A. Hunt Foundation, and Tiny Tiger Foundation. Funding for the national competition is provided by Delta. Air Lines and Aetn

For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org/awmc and truecolorstheatre.org/august-wilson-monologue-competition.

The Huntington Theatre Company is Boston's leading professional theatre and one of the region's premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Huntington brings together superb local and national talent and produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions. The Huntington runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts, and will remain so on a permanent basis with plans to convert the Huntington Avenue Theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with expanded services to audiences, artists, and the community. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.

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