Three Chicago Finalists Announced for 7th Annual August Wilson Monologue Competition

Three Chicago Finalists Announced for 7th Annual August Wilson Monologue Competition

The League of Chicago Theatres, Goodman Theatre, the University of Illinois at Chicago and competition organizer Derrick Sanders announce the top three Chicago finalists for the 7th Annual August Wilson Monologue Competition: Ireon Roach from Nicholas Senn High School (first place, performed Ruby, King Hedley II), Danielle Chmielewski from Lincoln Park High School (second place, performed Tonya, King Hedley II) and Tevion Devin Lanier from Nicholas Senn High School (third place, performed Becker, Jitney). The top three Chicago finalists were awarded scholarships in the amount of $500, $250 and $100, respectively. The top two winning students will receive expenses paid to travel to New York City for the National Finals, where they will compete on May 2, 2016.

Judges for the Chicago finals were Narda Alcorn, Equity Stage Manager on many August Wilson productions, Jeff Award-winning playwright Lydia Diamond, actor Allen Gilmore, who has performed in numerous August Wilson plays, and theater, film and TV star Eamonn Walker (Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Oz).

The August Wilson Monologue Competition, sponsored locally by the League of Chicago Theatres, Goodman Theatre, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and organized in Chicago by Derrick Sanders, is a national competition open to all high school students. For the Chicago and National competition, students perform a 2-3 minute monologue of their choosing from one of the ten plays in August Wilson's Century Cycle. The host venue, Goodman Theatre, was the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in Wilson's acclaimed Century Cycle-including world premiere productions of Seven Guitars (1995) and Gem of the Ocean (2003).

Derrick Sanders comments, "This year saw record participation from Chicago area students with 400 talented young people competing in preliminaries. In this, our 7th year, I am so proud of and inspired by the continued dedication of Chicago students to learn the works of this important playwright. This competition connects students from all over the country and inspires them to read the works on August Wilson. It gives them the understanding of the text and the confidence and skills to perform the words. We are very proud al all the participating students and we wish Ireon, Danielle and Tevion the best of luck as they represent Chicago at the Nationals."

Open to Chicago area high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, the August Wilson Monologue Competition focuses on exposing students to the richness of August Wilson's Century Cycle, and incorporating the plays into the standard high school curriculum. This year, 400 students competed in the preliminary round and 21 students advanced to the Chicago finals. The AWMC Chicago Preliminaries were held February 8-11, 2016 at Steppenwolf Theatre, the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago and Victory Gardens Theater. The Semi-finals were held February 22, 2016 at University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Theatre and Music. The Chicago finals were held March 7, 2016 at the Goodman Theatre.

This year's national competition is open to High School students in Chicago, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New York, Seattle, Boston, Los Angeles, Greensboro, Portland, and Dallas. The regional winners will participate in the National Finals in New York, attend a Broadway show and talk-back, and perform their winning monologues at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway on May 2, 2016.

Chicago's participation in this national event is coordinated by Derrick Sanders, who hopes to continue building robust partnerships with schools across Chicago, encouraging the adoption of August Wilson's work into the standard curriculum. These partnerships create educational opportunities that allow students to connect to August Wilson and his work through the study of history, social studies and literature.

For more information on the Chicago competition, visit chicagoplays.com/august-wilson-monologue-competition.html.

Chicago theatre is the leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theatres throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theaters to the most renowned resident theatres in the country, including 5 that have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago's theatres serve 5 million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million. Chicago produces and/or presents more world premieres annually than any other city in the nation. In 2015-16 alone, Chicago theatre companies produced more than 100 world premiere productions and adaptations. Each year, Chicago theatres send new work to resident theatres across the country, to Broadway, and around the world.

The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theatres which leverages its collective strength to promote, support, and advocate for Chicago's theatre industry locally, nationally, and internationally. The League of Chicago Theatres Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the art of theatre in the Chicago area through audience development and support services for theatres and theatre professionals. For more information, www.chicagoplays.com.

Called America's "Best Regional Theatre" by Time magazine, Goodman Theatre (Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer) has won international recognition for its artists, productions and programs, and is a major cultural, educational and economic pillar in Chicago. Founded in 1925 by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, Goodman Theatre has garnered hundreds of awards for artistic achievement and community engagement, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards (including "Outstanding Regional Theatre" in 1992), nearly 160 Joseph Jefferson Awards and more. Visit GoodmanTheatre.org.

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