Laury Teneus Tops 2017 Boston August Wilson Monologue Competition
Laury Teneus of Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers took first place on Monday, January 30, 2017 with her performance as Black Mary from Gem of the Ocean at the Boston Regional Finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition, held for the seventh year by the Education Department of the Huntington Theatre Company, the playwright's longtime artistic home.
Fanta Diakite of Snowden International School at Copley was named first runner-up and portrayed Rose from Fences; Medgene Joseph (Berniece, The Piano Lesson) of Codman Academy Charter Public School 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 1, 2017. 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 free and open to the public.
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 7th year that the Huntington's Education Department has hosted the regional finals in Boston. Over 550 high school students from 13 Boston area schools participated in the program this school year; the winner of each school competition competed on Monday, January 30, 2017 at the Huntington's Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.
Boston University's Summer Theatre Institute (BUSTI) provides a full scholarship to one of the Boston regional finalists. This year's recipient is Taina Joseph (Rose, Fences), a sophomore from English High School. 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 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 six schools registered to participate and three of those schools sent their school winner to the Boston Regional Finals.
The following schools were represented at the 2017 Boston Regional August Wilson Monologue Competition: Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter Public School, Another Course to College, Boston Day & Evening Academy, Codman Academy Charter Public School, Community Academy of Science and Health, Dorchester Academy, Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, English High School, Fenway High School, John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, Lexington Christian Academy, McKinley South End Academy, and Snowden International School at Copley. Judges were Boston actors Elle Borders and Damon Singletary and local director and assistant professor at Northeastern University Jonathan Carr. The accuracy judge was Allyssa Jones, program director for performing arts at Boston Public Schools, and the prompter was Justin Samoy, producing apprentice at the Huntington Theatre Company.
"The release of the film Fences has helped move August Wilson into the American mainstream, providing young people across the country with access to an essential American story," says the Huntington's Director of Education Donna Glick. "The Huntington is especially proud to be the home of the August Wilson Monologue Competition in Boston, one of 10 cities in this national program. The opportunity to study and perform powerful monologues from dynamic characters invites young people to explore different parts of their personalities in a safe environment."
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.
For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org/awmc and truecolorstheatre.org/august-wilson-monologue-competition.
Celebrating its 35th season, 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. Long an anchor cultural institution of the Avenue of the Arts, the Huntington will remain on Huntington Avenue on a permanent basis as we plan to renovate and expand our current theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with enhanced 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.