THREE FINALISTS CHOSEN IN AUGUST WILSON MONOLOGUE COMPETITION Los Angeles Regional Finals Hosted by Center Theatre Group at Mark Taper Forum National Competition to Take Place May 6
Ten local high school students from six different cities performed in the August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) Los Angeles regional finals at the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum, Monday night, March 4, 2013. The top three student performers received scholarships and the opportunity to perform again in New York City.
Center Theatre Group, host of the August Wilson Monologue Competition in Southern California, is pleased to announce that Pablo Lopez of Los Angeles placed first in the competition, earning a $500 scholarship and a guaranteed spot in the national finals that will take place at the August Wilson Theatre in New York City on May 6. Rhyver White of Hawthorne took second place, with a $250 scholarship and Eliana Pipes of Altadena took third place and a $100 scholarship. Both Rhyver White and Eliana Pipes are national semifinalists and will perform in a semifinal round in New York City with students from six other regions for a chance to move on to the national finals round.
“Center Theatre Group is proud of our three New York-bound performers and of all of the students who have discovered Wilson and his profound works through our program,” says Center Theatre Group’s Artistic Director Michael Ritchie. “It is a great privilege to be able to introduce students of all backgrounds to Wilson’s works, which ultimately transcend race and time, and to inspire and nurture these students’ growing artistry.”
Every student participating in this competition performed a monologue from playwright August Wilson’s 10-play “Century Cycle,” an epic dramatization of the African-American experience in the 20th century.
Judges of the Los Angeles regional finals were professional actors with special interest in the works of August Wilson, including Kimberleigh Aarn (also an administrator at Los Angeles County Arts Commission), Michael Beach, Wren Brown (also founder and artistic director of Ebony Repertory Theatre), Keith David and Loretta Devine. Master of Ceremonies was award-winning broadcast journalist and CBS 2’s co-anchor of the 5 and 11 p.m. news, Pat Harvey.
Debbie Allen, Angela Bassett, Phylicia Rashad and Courtney B. Vance are among the members of the 2012-2013 CTG August Wilson Advisory Committee, comprised of prominent national figures and qualified professionals who are dedicated to lending their service to arts education while furthering the legacy of August Wilson.
Designed to help students from all backgrounds connect with a significant part of American history and to gain theatre and performance skills, the national competition was inaugurated in 2007 in Atlanta by Wilson’s long-time collaborators Kenny Leon and Todd Kreidler of True Colors Theatre Company.
This is the second year that CTG has been the Southern California home for the national program, which includes theatres from Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle and Pittsburgh. Each city runs the program differently, but the goal is the same: to introduce high school students to August Wilson’s works and the African-American perspectives he chronicles as well as help students of all backgrounds explore their own creativity.
The 10 Los Angeles regional finalists who performed on March 4 were chosen on January 19 after performing in the regional semifinals held at the California Educational Theatre Association High School Theatre Festival in Rancho Cucamonga. A preliminary audition was hosted in October by Center Theatre Group.
Among the 84 total Southern California AWMC participants, 31 schools and 29 different cities were represented. The program was open to students in grades 10-12 in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
In addition to its leadership in the AWMC, CTG also spearheads the August Wilson In-School Residency Program that involves semester-long residencies at four local schools. Each residency partners a CTG teaching artist with a 9th grade English teacher and allows for students to explore all 10 plays of Wilson’s “Century Cycle.” Students from participating residency classrooms attended the AWMC regional finals on Monday night.
CTG’s AWMC participation and its Wilson in-school residencies are programs of CTG’s Education and Community Partnerships department, led by Leslie K. Johnson. Currently one of the most active theatre education programs in the country, CTG’s Education and Community Partnerships Department reached 23,847 students, teachers and community members from 294 schools and community organizations throughout Southern California in the 2011-2012 season. The department is dedicated to the development of artists, educators and young people’s skills and creativity through the exploration of theatre, its literature, art and imagination.
Regional funding for the August Wilson Monologue Competition was provided by the Dream Fund at UCLA Donor Advised Fund, Center Theatre Group Affiliates, Center Theatre Group Corporate Circle, Friars Charitable Foundation and Wells Fargo. Funding for the national August Wilson Monologue Competition comes from Publix Supermarket Charities, Massey Charitable Trust, Bank of America, The Imlay Foundation, Kathleen Rios and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In a long relationship with August Wilson plays, CTG is presenting Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” this spring at the Mark Taper Forum, where “Jitney,” “King Hedley II” (Tony Award® nomination for Best Play), “Gem of the Ocean” and “Radio Golf” were previously seen. CTG also 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 Wilson program can be found at www.centertheatregroup.org/AugustWilson.
For more information about “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” at the Mark Taper Forum (April 24 through June 9, 2013), visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org/JoeTurner.