Fifteen local high school students from 10 different schools competed in the August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) regional finals at the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum, Monday night, March 26, 2012. The top three student performers received scholarships and the opportunity to compete again in New York City.
Christopher Smith of Fullerton Union High School won the top prize of the evening, collecting a $500 scholarship and a guaranteed spot in the national finals that will take place at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway on May 7. Jasmine Hogan of San Jacinto High School took second place, with a $250 scholarship, and Tyler Edwards of Orange County High School of the Arts took third place and a $100 scholarship. Both Jasmine and Tyler are national semi-finalists and will compete in a semi-final round in New York City against students from six other regions for a chance to move on to the national finals round.
Every student participating in this competition performed a monologue from August Wilson’s 10-play “Century Cycle,” a singular achievement in American theatre that dramatizes the African-American experience in the 20th century. The national competition is designed to help students from all backgrounds connect with a significant part of American history and to gain theatre and performance skills.
Judges of the Los Angeles regional finals were Paris Barclay, John Beasley, Dennis Haysbert, Stan Lathan and Charlayne Woodard. Master of Ceremonies was award-winning broadcast journalist and CBS 2 co-anchor Pat Harvey.
This is the first time Southern California is participating in the AWMC, as CTG joins the fifth annual national competition with theatres from Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle and Pittsburgh.
The AWMC is part of CTG’s inaugural August Wilson program, which includes an in-school residency with four local schools. Students from participating residency classrooms attended the AWMC regional finals on Monday night.
CTG’s Education and Community Partnerships department, led by Leslie K. Johnson has reached 18,886 students, teachers and community members from 118 schools throughout Southern California in the 2010-2011 season.
CTG maintained a long relationship with August Wilson, presenting seven of his plays. In addition to “Jitney,” “King Hedley II” (Tony Award nomination for Best Play), “Gem of the Ocean” and “Radio Golf” 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.
Regional funding for the AWMC is provided by CAA Foundation, Center Theatre Group Affiliates, The Dream Fund at UCLA Donor Advised Fund, Chase, Southern California Gas Company and Wells Fargo.
Funding for the national AWMC comes from Publix Supermarket Charities, Massey Charitable Trust, Bank of America, The Imlay Foundation, Kathleen Rios, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
More information on CTG’s August Wilson program can be found at www.centertheatregroup.org/AugustWilson.