Winners Announced for 13th Annual August Wilson Monologue and Design Competitions

Cash prizes are are $1,500, $1000 and $500 for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, respectively.

By: May. 27, 2022
Winners Announced for 13th Annual August Wilson Monologue and Design Competitions

Out of the 330 total Chicagoland high school students who entered the 13th annual August Wilson Monologue and Design Competitions, Demi Davis from Senn High School prevailed, taking the first-place prize at the Chicago finals earlier this month for her 2-3-minute monologue performance. A member of Goodman's 2019 PlayBuild Youth Intensive (a summer ensemble-building program that acquaints high school students with performance, creative writing and communication skills), Davis delivered her monologue as the character Ruby in Wilson's King Hedley II. Aisha Akorede (Amundsen High School) took home the second place prize with her performance as Vera from Seven Guitars and Alex Weber (ChiArts) came in third place with a performance as Sterling from Two Trains Running. The newest aspect of the competition-"Designing August," which focuses on scenic and design elements-returned for its second year. Lauren Givens (Providence St. Mel School) earned first place for the design competition; second and third places went to Aspira Early College High Schoolers Karla Marin-Casteneda and Jaime Uriostegui, respectively. Cash prizes for the Monologue Competition, which were spontaneously raised by $500 by a generous anonymous donor moments before the winners were announced, are $1,500, $1000 and $500 for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, respectively.

"It is an honor for me to personally congratulate the winners of the August Wilson Monologue and Design Competitions at Goodman Theatre, a place where I worked with my beloved husband to make his poetry take life and form. I fully support and encourage a whole new generation of artists to lend their perspective and talent to his vision and legacy," said Constanza Romero-Wilson, Executive Director of August Wilson Legacy LLC.

Student finalists-including alumi from the Goodman's youth programs as Youth Arts Council, InterGens program and Musical Theater Intensive-hailed from the following high schools: Amundsen, Art in Motion, ASPIRA, The Chicago High School for the Arts, The Chicago Academy for the Arts, CICS Northtown Academy, Lincoln Park, Providence St. Mel School, Senn, South Shore International College Prep, Southland College Prep and Whitney Young Magnet.

"The talents of Chicagoland's youth shine bright again in-person, after two years of virtual competition-and the words of August Wilson, combined with the heart of the youth of Chicago, continues to move and inspire audiences," said Derrick Sanders, producing director of Chicago's August Wilson Monologue Competition and Associate Director of the Drama Division at Juilliard. "We continue to expand the August Wilson Monologue Competition by adding the visually stunning work of students in our first 'Designing August' competition. I'm thrilled for all of the students, parents and teachers for their amazing work-and we look forward to next year!"

The free annual August Wilson Monologue Competition gives Chicagoland youth an opportunity to explore and share the richness of Wilson's American Century Cycle through master classes and offering college scholarships. Program participants from around Chicago encountered Wilson's ten-play cycle and received coaching from teaching artists to prepare their monologues for competition.

"The dedication of the students to learn, perform and design the work of August Wilson is truly inspirational. The competition connects students throughout the city as they read the work, appreciate the artistry and build their skills and confidence. The League of Chicago Theatres is proud to be a longtime sponsor of the competition and we congratulate the winners and commend all the participants," said Deb Clapp, Executive Director of the League of Chicago Theatres.

Judges for the 2022 Competition included Stan Brown (Director of Graduate Studies of the MFA in Acting program at Northwestern University); Sydney Charles (award-winning actress who most recently appeared in Gem of the Ocean at the Goodman); Sydney Chatman (former Goodman Maggio Fellow and founding director of The Tofu Chitlin' Circuit); and Chuck Smith (Goodman Theatre Resident Director).

"Watching these young artists perform August's characters, listening to his beautifully resonant vernacular flow from reminds us all of the importance of the stories of everyday people that go untold. But August's legacy is not just the decade-by-decade history of Black folk in his plays. His true legacy is the life each young designer and performer breathes into his work when they read it, study it, design it, perform it whether in classrooms in schools or on the stages of America's theaters," said Willa J. Taylor, Goodman Theatre's Walter Director of Education and Engagement.

Born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August Wilson (1945-2005) authored the American Century Cycle of 10 plays, including Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African Americans, decade by decade, over the course of the 20th century. Goodman Theatre was the first in the country to have produced every play in Wilson's cycle. In 2003, Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show How I Learned What I Learned. Wilson's work garnered many awards, including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain's Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars and Jitney. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award and Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. On October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theater located at 245 West 52nd Street the August Wilson Theatre.

An award-winning director and filmmaker, Derrick Sanders is the Associate Director of the Drama Division at Juilliard. He has been the producing director of Chicago's August Wilson Monologue Competition and an associate professor in the theater department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was also the founding artistic director of Congo Square Theatre, one of the country's leading ensembles dedicated to work rooted in the African diaspora. Richard Feldman (faculty 1987-present), who had been serving as associate dean for 16 years, will continue teaching and directing in the division. Sanders received a BFA from Howard University and an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. His directing credits include the world premiere of Jonathan Norton's Penny Candy (Dallas Theater Center); Kelvin Roston Jr.'s Twisted Melodies (Baltimore Center Stage, Apollo Theater, Mosaic Theater Company); Athol Fugard's The Island and Carlyle Brown's The African Company Presents Richard III (American Players Theatre); Will Power's Fetch Clay, Make Man (Round House Theatre); Katori Hall's The Mountaintop (Virginia Stage Company); Bruce Norris' Clybourne Park and Kwame Kwei-Armah's Beneatha's Place for "The Raisin Cycle" (Baltimore Center Stage); Lydia Diamond's Stick Fly (True Colors Theatre Company); Javon Johnson's Sanctified (Lincoln Theatre); Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder's Gee's Bend (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog (American Theater Company); David Ingber's Mr. Chickee's Funny Money (world premiere), Christopher Paul Curtis' Bud, Not Buddy, and Dan Gutman's Jackie and Me (Chicago Children's Theatre); and the world premiere of Five Fingers of Funk (Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis). Perfect Day, the short film he wrote and directed, garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards. In addition to founding the August Wilson Monologue Competition, which is featured in the film Giving Voice, Sanders has directed numerous Wilson plays, including King Hedley II (Signature Theatre, Kennedy Center); Joe Turner's Come and Gone (Baltimore Center Stage); Fences and Radio Golf (Virginia Stage); and Jitney (True Colors Theatre Company). He was also the assistant director of the Broadway premieres of Radio Golf and Gem of the Ocean.

Theater is essential to the life of a great city and to its citizens. The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theaters which leverages its collective strength to support, promote and advocate for Chicago's theater industry. Through our work, we ensure that theater continues to thrive in our city. Chicago theater is the leader in the U.S. with more than 250 theaters throughout Chicagoland, comprising a rich and varied community ranging from storefront, non-union theatres to the most renowned resident theaters in the country, including five which have been honored with Regional Tony Awards, and the largest touring Broadway organization in the nation. Chicago's theaters serve five million audience members annually and have a combined budget of more than $250 million. Chicago typically produces and/or presents more world premieres annually than any other city in the nation. Each year, Chicago theaters send new work to resident theaters across the country, to Broadway, and around the world.


Chicago's theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater's artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earner two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson's "American Century Cycle." Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fifth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago's Off-Loop theaters.

Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman's Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman's Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth-85% of whom come from underserved communities-schools and life-long learners.

As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Goodman Theatre's Action Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA) was born out of the belief that progress means action, which includes building on the decades-long commitment to using art, assets and resources to contribute to a more just, equitable and anti-racist society.

Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago's cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family's legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth's family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation on the new Goodman center in 2000.

Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Dael Orlandersmith, Henry Godinez, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor and Mary Zimmerman. Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre's Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women's Board President and Craig McCaw is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.


Review: AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical at Kokandy Productions Photo
Review: AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical at Kokandy Productions

Kokandy Productions’ Chicago premiere of AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical is a delectable, campy romp. Producing Artistic Director Derek Van Barham’s production is a mainly bloodless vision for the bloody tale of serial killer finance bro Patrick Bateman — and it’s an approach that works incredibly well for the material. I know that AMERICAN PSYCHO: The Musical was short-lived on Broadway and that that production was a literal bloodbath. The fact that Kokandy’s production substitutes red confetti for stage blood is a microcosm of how well this scrappy interpretation of the musical works: By making the show more camp, less horror story, audiences are then free to indulge in the satire and fun.

The Annoyance Theatre to Present THE EVIL THAT MEN DO Beginning in October Photo
The Annoyance Theatre to Present THE EVIL THAT MEN DO Beginning in October

The Evil that Men Do brings together the best talent at the Annoyance to create a truly unforgettable theatrical experience. Get ticket and event information here!

WHO CHISELED THAT? by Merit Kahn Begins US Tour in Chicago Photo
WHO CHISELED THAT? by Merit Kahn Begins US Tour in Chicago

'Who Chiseled That?' by Merit Kahn will begin performances in Chicago this October ahead of a US tour.

Review: THE LEHMAN TRILOGY at TimeLine Theatre Company/Broadway In Chicago Photo
Review: THE LEHMAN TRILOGY at TimeLine Theatre Company/Broadway In Chicago

THE LEHMAN TRILOGY is a sweeping play that covers 164 years of history as it weaves together fact and fiction to chart the rise and fall of Lehman Brothers. The play’s title mirrors the ambition of the piece: It has a run-time of over three hours that unfolds in three acts — all performed by only three actors. The trilogy in the title is thus a literal reflection of the play’s structure and the roles, but it’s also suggestive of the piece’s mythical nature. Likewise, playwright Stefano Massani’s script (adapted by Ben Power) has a rhythmic storytelling style; the actors often narrate their own stories and actions in a chamber theater type of presentation. Although the run time is long, the fact that THE LEHMAN TRILOGY covers so much ground means it remains interesting throughout — although I found I was ultimately more intellectually than emotionally stimulated.

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