CTG Selects Students for August Wilson Monologue Competition Regional Finals

by Naomi Crews

Twelve students have been selected by Center Theatre Group (CTG) for the August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) Regional Finals in New York. The 12 regional finalists were selected during a semi-final round held on December 13, in which 10th-,11th- and 12th-grade studentsfrom 30 different schools around Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Countiesparticipated


National Competition to Take Place May 4 in New York

Center Theatre Group has selected 12 local students toparticipate in the regional finals of the 2015 August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) to be held at the CTG/Mark Taper Forum on March, 2, 2015.
With the support of the CTG Affiliates, this is the fourth consecutive year that CTG will host the Southern California component of the national monologue competition. The program is designed to inspire and educate Los Angeles youth through the work of August Wilson.
“Center Theatre Group is honored to play a part in sustaining the legacy of August Wilson byintroducing him and his work to a new generation. The power of CTG’s August Wilson Monologue Competitionis in giving students the opportunity to study a significant African-American playwright as a source for their own education, self-reflection and creative expression,” says CTG’s Director of Education and Community Partnerships Leslie K. Johnson.“I am incredibly proud of all the young people who participated in the program and am excited to work with our regional finalists as they prepare for their performance at the Mark Taper Forum. I can’t wait to see this year’s participants bring Wilson’s characters to life.”
Those chosen to participate in the competition are Philip Patrick Bucknor (Los Angeles), Javen K. Crosby (Burbank), Danielle N. Davis (Los Angeles), Trécey Dory (Los Angeles), Shaila Essley (Chino Hills), Avery Girion (Sherman Oaks), Camryn Hamm (Rancho Cucamonga), Katharine Lauffer (Valencia), Wayne R. Mackins-Harris (Los Angeles), Miles Millikan (Los Angeles), Wendy R. Morrow (Los Angeles) and Paul Vincent III (North Hollywood). The students represent several local high schools including Idyllwild Arts Academy, Los Angeles High School of the Arts, Marlborough School, Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, Rancho Cucamonga High School and Valencia High School.
The 12 regional finalists were selected during a semi-final round held on December 13, in which 10th-,11th- and 12th-grade studentsfrom 30 different schools around Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Countiesparticipated. The program kicked off with a preliminary round featuring more than 150 students wherein each student was asked to perform a monologue from August Wilson’s “Century Cycle,” a 10-playdramatization of the African-American experience in the 20th century.
The program will progress with training and rehearsal sessions throughout January and February for each of the 12 regional finalists. Provided by CTG as part of the AWMC, the sessions will allow the students to refine their performance while gainingvaluable acting techniques.  
On March 2, three top-performing studentswill be selected to move forward to the eighth annual AWMC national finals, which will takeplace in New YorkCity at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadwayon May 4. Each student will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York where the two top finalists will perform their monologue, and the third finalist will serve as an alternate with inclusion in the performance montage. Furthermore, all three students will receive master classes to workshop their monologue as well asscholarship awards. 
The August Wilson Monologue Competitionis a national program presented by Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theaters and is hosted inseveral othercities across the country including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Portland and Seattle. The program encourages students from all backgrounds and ethnicities to read and perform the work of August Wilson, a playwright who influenced American theatre for decades by illustrating the intricacies of the African-American experience. Through performance, the AWMC gives high schools tudents the opportunity to not only explore their creativity, but also learn about significant moments in African-American history from a uniqueperspective.
Regional funding for the August Wilson Monologue Competition is provided by the CTGAffiliates, the Department of Cultural Affairs for Los Angeles and the Wells Fargo Foundation. The AWMC also receives generous support from the William Randolph Hearst Education Endowment.
CTG’s work reaches beyond that of the AWMC with the August Wilson In-School Residency Program that gives local high schools the opportunity to learn about Wilson’s work both in and outside of the classroom.In a semester-long program that connects teachers with a CTG teaching artist, high school students analyzeall 10 plays from Wilson’s “Century Cycle” and, in doing so, learn about the playwright’sinfluence and theatrical contribution to society. Taking Wilson’s work from page to stage, the participating high schools will also attend the regional finals of the AWMC at the Mark Taper Forum on March 2. Classrooms from Los Angeles River School, PUC CALS Early College High School, Thomas Jefferson High School and University High School will take part in the residency program.
CTG’s AWMC participation and its Wilson in-school residencies are programs of CTG’s Education and Community Partnerships department. Currently one of the most active theatre education programs in the country, CTG’s Education and Community Partnerships Department reached more than 20,000 students, teachers and community members throughout Southern California in the 2013-2014season.
The inspiration for the AWMCwas sparked in 2007 in Atlanta by Wilson’s long-time collaborators Kenny Leon and Todd Kreidler of True Colors Theatre Company. Modeled after Pittsburgh Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare Monologue and Scene contest, the AWMC utilizes performance tools and text analysisto help students explore the interior lives of August Wilson’s characters and study the social, economic and historical realities they inhabit. Funding for the national August Wilson Monologue Competition comes from Delta Air Lines, Macy’s, Publix Supermarket Charities, Massey Charitable Trust, Bank of America, The Imlay Foundationand The Zeist Foundation.
CTG has had a long relationship with the work of August Wilson, presenting eight of his plays. In addition to “Jitney,” “King Hedley II” (Tony Award nomination for Best Play), “Gem of the Ocean” (world premiere production), “Radio Golf” (world premiere production) and “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”at the Mark Taper Forum, CTG presented the Tony Award-nominated “Seven Guitars” at the Ahmanson Theatre and “Two Trains Running” and “The Piano Lesson” (1990 Pulitzer Prize) at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood. 
More information on CTG’s August WilsonMonologue Competitioncan be found at www.centertheatregroup.org/AugustWilson.