The 13th Annual August Wilson Monologue Competition Atlanta Regionals took place on March 6, 2020 at The Carlyle event space. Sixteen finalists – fourteen from metro Atlanta and two from Birmingham, AL – performed monologues from August Wilson’s American Century Cycle. The competition was adjudicated by Eric Ayala, award-winning screenwriter; Ray Cornelius, radio personality from WCLK 91.9 FM; Christopher Hampton, company member and instructor at Whole World Improv Theatre; Helen Hampton, Director of Global Talent Management at Delta Air Lines, and NL Starr, whose proudest stage accomplishment is producing and performing in all ten of the plays from the American Century Cycle. Nikki Toombs, Director of Education at True Colors Theatre, co-hosted the event with actor, director and producer Terri J. Vaughn, who first stole America’s heart as Lovita Alize Jenkins on “The Steve Harvey Show”.
This year’s competition started in October 2019 with 338 participants. Preliminary rounds from January 22 to February 5, winnowed the field to 120 participants, who competed on February 15 to yield the sixteen finalists that competed on Friday.
1st Place – Julius Shanks, Alabama School of Fine Arts, Birmingham, AL, Class of 2021
“Toledo”; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
2nd Place – Taylor Jackson, Alabama School of Fine Arts, Birmingham, AL, Class of 2021
“Berniece”; The Piano Lesson
3rd Place – Casey Champion, New Manchester High School, Class of 2020
“Ruby”; King Hedley II
The 1st and 2nd Place winners will compete in the August Wilson Monologue Competition National Finals in New York City on May 4, 2020.
The August Wilson Monologue Competition was founded by Kenny Leon and Todd Kreidler in 2007. Leon, co-founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of True Colors, worked closely with August Wilson and is one only a handful of directors that have directed all ten of the Century Cycle plays. Kreidler, True Colors’ former Associate Artistic Director, was Dramaturge for Wilson’s last play and Director of his one-man show – How I Learned What I Learned. As a result, both have intimate knowledge of August Wilson as an artist and as a person. In Kreidler’s words, “The goal of the competition is to help garner partnerships with communities, schools and theaters across the United States, and to create educational materials about August Wilson that allow students, of all races, to connect these important theatre works with educational curricula like history, social studies and literature.”
True Colors launched the competition in one school in Atlanta, and it has since expanded to theatre companies in fourteen cities around the country – Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Greensboro, Los Angeles, New Haven, New York City, Norfolk, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), San Diego and Seattle.
In addition to the Atlanta Regional Competition, True Colors produces the August Wilson Monologue Competition National Finals, which will take place on Sunday May 4, 2020 at the August Wilson Theatre in New York. For the week leading up to the competition, the top two winners from each region will participate in workshops with Kenny Leon and other Broadway artists, attend a Broadway show and experience other priceless behind the scenes opportunities.
Major funding for the Atlanta Regional August Wilson Monologue Competition comes from Delta Air Lines, the Zeist Foundation, the Shubert Foundation, the Frances Wood Foundation and the Helen & Marian Woodward Fund.
For more information, please contact Nikki Toombs, Director of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (404) 532-1901, ext. 214