Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theaters will present the fourth annual August Wilson Monologue Competition National finals Monday, May 3 at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre (245 W. 52nd Street). The finals will feature performances of monologues from August Wilson's Century Cycle by twelve regional finalists from Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Chicago and New York.
The evening will also include performances by Blues musician Guy Davis (Finian's Rainbow), Chris Chalk (Fences), LaTanya Richardson (Joe Turner's Come and Gone), Keith Randolph Smith (Fences, King Hedley II), Heather Alicia Simms (Gem of the Ocean, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) and Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Gem of the Ocean, Tony Award winner for Seven Guitars). This event is free and open to the public.
To compete in the August Wilson Monologue Competition, high school students grades 10-12 were asked to perform a 2-3 minute monologue of their choice from one of the ten plays in August Wilson's Century Cycle. Regional competitions took place earlier this year in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Chicago and New York, where contestants were judged by a panel of celebrity judges. The final competition will be judged by playwright ReGina Taylor (Crowns and Drowning Crow), costume designer Constanza Romero (Fences, Gem of the Ocean, Seven Guitars, The Piano Lesson), and actors Russell Hornsby (Fences, Jitney) and Mykelti Williamson (Fences, "Forrest Gump," "24").
The August Wilson Monologue Competition was created by two of August Wilson's closest living collaborators, Kenny Leon and Todd Kreidler. Co-Founder and Artistic Director of True Colors, Mr. Leon worked closely with Mr. Wilson, directing many of the August Wilson's Century Cycle plays on Broadway and at regional theatres, while True Colors Associate Artistic Director Mr. Kreidler served as Dramaturge for Radio Golf, Gem of the Ocean and King Hedley II. He also directEd Wilson's one man show How I Learned What I Learned.
Support for the August Wilson Monologue Competition is provided by AirTran Airways, Turner Broadcasting System, Massey Charitable Trust, Imlay Foundation, Ryan Cameron Foundation, The Richard C. Munroe Foundation, Inc, Publix Super Markets Charities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
August Wilson authored Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African Americans, decade by decade, over the course of the twentieth century. His plays have been produced at regional theatres across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. In 2003, Mr. Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. His works garnered many awards, including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990), a Tony Award for Fences, Great Britain's Olivier Award for Jitney, as well as eight New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and Mr. Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. He received many fellowships and awards, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships, the Whiting Writers Award, the 2003 Heinz Award, the 1999 National Humanities Medal from the President of the United States and numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, as well as the only high school diploma ever issued by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and posthumously inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2007. On October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theatre located at 245 West 52nd Street the August Wilson Theatre. Mr. Wilson was born and raised in Pittsburgh and lived in Seattle at the time of his death. He is immediately survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero.