This is the fourth year for the highly acclaimed August Wilson Monologue Competition. High school Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors are asked to perform a 2-3 minute monologue from one of the ten plays by August Wilson’s Century Cycle. The partners presenting this event are Goodman Theatre and Derrick Sanders, with the Department of Performing Arts at The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the League of Chicago Theatres, and True Colors Theatre Company.
League of Chicago Theatre’s, Executive Director, Deb Clapp says, “I feel like this competition does so many things for so many of Chicago’s young people and has the potential to do so much more,” Students come to Chicago from as faraway as St. Louis and Detroit to compete. There are regional competitions in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Boston and New York – where the national finals are held. Another reason that Ms. Clapp loves this competition, “because 250 students are exposed to one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th Century… to the joy of performing on one of Chicago’s great stages… meet at least five Chicago theatre professionals, and understand that theatre is a legitimate career path.”
Following the semi-finals, held in February of this year, 20 chosen students were given coaching by theatre professionals in order to deepen their understanding of the work and to prepare for Monday’s finals. The student’s school also benefits as they are presented with August Wilson’s Century Cycle plays so that more students get the opportunity to experience these great works. Chicago competition organizer Derrick Sanders says, “Each year we are so proud to see the legacy of August Wilson grow in Chicago…and each year we are thrilled that students from Chicago place so highly in the National Competition.”
The three finalists will travel, all expenses paid, to New York for additional coaching, a Broadway show and to meet with August Wilson’s collaborators. Last year’s First Place winner in Chicago, Christian Helem, who came in Second Place in the national finals received a $500 prize and was asked to perform that monologue at the League of Chicago Theatre’s Gala in 2012. During the evening Mr. Helem appeared along-side seasoned performers for an audience of theatre professionals including Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy.
Mark your calendars for Monday, March 11th 6:30 at the Goodman to see a new wave of young people performing the classic works of an American classic, August Wilson.