(BOSTON) — Huntington Theatre Company and Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company proudly present the August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC), a monologue competition for Boston high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors that celebrates the writing of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright. The Boston final competition will be hold on Saturday, February 4 at the BU Theatre, the Huntington's main stage. The top three winners will be awarded all-expense-paid trips to the national final on May 7, 2012 at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre where they will compete with regional finalists from across the nation. Airfare, hotel accomodations, workshops, and performance tickets will be provided in collaboration with Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamycn Theatres. The Boston and national competitions are free and open to the public.
Preliminary competitions will take place this month in eight participating Boston public schools: Another Course to College, Boston Arts Academy, Brighton High School, Dorchester Academy, English High School, Fenway High School, Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, and Snowden International School at Copley. In preparation, Huntington Education Department staff and teaching artists have been visiting weekly since November to introduce Wilson and the ten plays of his Century Cycle about the 20th century African-American experience, as well as to support script analysis and character development and coach students in their performances in preparation for the competition.
In competition, students perform one two-to-three-minute monologue of their choosing from one of the ten plays. A panel of theatre and education professionals judges contestants on the basis of preparedness, understanding of the text, emotional connection to the material, and commitment to the performance.
The Huntington's special relationship with August Wilson and his work began in 1986 with a production of Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Wilson's third play. For 25 years, the Huntington served as an artistic home to Wilson, developing and premiering seven of the ten plays of his Century Cycle during his life and producing two after his death. Beginning March 9, the Huntington will present Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, his first Broadway hit, to complete Wilson's Century Cycle.
Wilson's Century Cycle is a singular achievement in American theatre. Each of the ten plays is set in a different decade of the 20th century. At the plays' core are soaring, lyrical monologues that take the song, laughter, pain, and rich content of African-American life and place it in the mouths of the most varied ensemble of characters written since Shakespeare.
The competition's inspiration was sparked by two of August Wilson's closest living collaborators: Kenny Leon (director of Stick Fly at the Huntington and on Broadway) and Todd Kreidler. Leon worked closely with Wilson directing many of the 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 last play and director of his one-man show.
"The goal of the competition is to build partnerships with schools and theatres across the United States and to create educational materials about August Wilson that allow students to connect these important theatre works with educational curricula in history, social studies, and literature," said Kreidler, Associate Artistic Director of Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company. "This monologue competition offers students of all races the opportunity to inhabit the lives and speak the words of these vital, lively characters."
"I've seen the power of August Wilson's words on students firsthand in the more than 20 years the Huntington has produced his plays for Boston students," says Donna Glick, Director of Education. "His plays are poetry, and young people are hungry to inhabit the rich characters he creates."
Funding for the national August Wilson Monologue Competition comes from AT&T, Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc., AirTran Airways, Publix Supermarket Charities, Massey Charitable Trust, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Local funding is provided by the Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion Fund and Edvestors.
For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org/awmc and truecolorstheatre.org/august-wilson-monologue-competition.
ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON
Since its founding in 1982, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston's leading theatre company. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current. Led by Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington creates award-winning productions, 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. The Huntington is in residence at Boston University. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.