(BOSTON) — Ashley Herbert, a junior at Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, was named champion of the National Finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition Monday night at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre. Herbert, who performed a monologue of Black Mary's from Wilson's Gem of the Ocean, was the first runner-up of Boston's regional competition. Macy's awarded Herbert a $1,500 cash prize, which was unexpectedly matched by Delta Air Lines as the winners were announced. Herbert was joined at Nationals by Boston winner Trinidad Ramkissoon of Boston Day & Evening Academy and second runner-up Dinia Clairveaux of Snowden International School at Copley. Herbert competed against 15 other regional winners and first runners-up from seven additional cities across the country.
"Ashley found a new piece of herself in the character of Black Mary each time she performed her monologue," says Alexandra Truppi, Herbert's coach and the Huntington's manager of curriculum and instruction. "Watching her grow since October has been a real joy. When we began, she was a shy, quiet kid, but through the process of working, she has found her voice."
Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) is held regionally in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, Portland, and Seattle and celebrates the writing of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright. The top three finishers from each city received all-expenses-paid trips to the New York City finals provided by Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theaters. While there, they attended workshops, shared their experiences with Wilson's work and in the competition with other finalists, and attended a performance of After Midnight. Judges for the National Competition were Narda E. Alcorn (stage manager of several recent Wilson productions on Broadway), David Cromer (currently appearing in Kenny Leon's production of A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences and King Hedley II on Broadway), and Pauletta Washington (the film Beloved and the wife of actor Denzel Washington).
Denzel Washington, currently appearing on Broadway in Leon's production of A Raisin in the Sun, made a surprise appearance at the competition and delivered an inpsiring speech to the competitors.
The Huntington's Education Department facilitates Boston's August Wilson Monologue Competition. Staff and teaching artists worked in-residence at eleven Boston public high schools with over 500 students weekly from October to February to introduce Wilson and the ten plays of his Century Cycle about the 20th century African-American experience, to support script analysis and character development, and to coach students in their performances in preparation for the local competition. Participating schools were: Academy of the Pacific Rim, Another Course to College, Boston Adult Technical Academy, Boston Day and Evening Academy, Brighton High School, Codman Academy Charter Public School, Dorchester Academy, Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, McKinley South End Academy, New Mission High School, and Snowden International School at Copley.
"I saw how it connected with my life. That's how I put my emotions into the monologue and made it my own," says Herbert of her monologue. "I felt like Black Mary was being told how to do things and was being controlled in a way, and she was getting tired of it, and just wanted to show that she could do things on her own. I feel like I have my own ideas and I want to explore them and see where it gets me, rather than somebody telling me what to do and how to do it all the time."
Funding for the Boston regional August Wilson Monologue Competition was provided by EdVestors BPS Arts Expansion Initative.
ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY
Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award and named Best of Boston 2013 by Boston magazine, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston's leading professional theatre and one of the region's premiere cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create 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. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso and in residence at Boston University, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.