Center Theatre Group Chooses August Wilson Monologue Finalists

Submitted By Center Theatre Group

center theatre group

L-R: (back row) Mylah Eaton, Natalia Echeverria, Sarah-Michelle Guei, Tairah Umeadi, Hannah Franklin, AuDrya Clayton, (front row) Nico Moreta, Khalil Powell, Daniel Velez, Jackson Lewis, Dominique Payne and Gerardo Navarro are the Los Angeles regional finalists for the 2018 August Wilson Monologue Competition hosted by Center Theatre Group at the Mark Taper Forum. PHOTO BY RYAN MILLER CAPTURE IMAGING

Center Theatre Group has selected 12 local high school students to participate in the regional finals for the 2018 August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) to be held March 5 at the Mark Taper Forum. 

This is the seventh year Center Theatre Group is hosting the Southern California component of the national monologue competition. The program is designed to inspire and educate Los Angeles youth using monologues from August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle,” a 10-play cycle that details the complexity of the African American experience in the 20th century. 

Those selected to participate in the regional finals are AuDrya Clayton, Natalia Echeverria, Nico Moreta, Gerardo Navarro and Daniel Velez of Los Angeles; Mylah Eaton of Studio City; Hannah Franklin of Los Alamitos; Sarah-Michelle Guei, Dominique Payne and Tairah Umeadi of Carson; Jackson Lewis of Agoura Hills and Khalil Powell of Burbank. The students represent eight high schools within Los Angeles and Orange counties. Franklin also participated in the 2017 competition. 

The students selected will receive training and rehearsal sessions provided by Center Theatre Group throughout January and February. The sessions will allow the students to refine their performances while gaining valuable acting techniques. 

On March 5, the 12 regional finalists will perform their monologues at the Mark Taper Forum in front of an invited audience, including a panel of judges. The two top-performing students will move forward to the AWMC national finals; the third place student will serve as alternate. The first and second place students will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for the finals, which will take place May 7 at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. As preparation for the national component of the competition, all three students will receive master classes to workshop their monologues, as well as scholarship awards. 

The program kicked off this season with a preliminary audition that featured 145 students in 10th, 11th or 12th-grade from 32 different high schools in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Fifty-four of those students advanced to a semi-final audition held at The Music Center Annex in December, where the aforementioned 12 regional finalists were selected to move forward. center theatre group

Center Theatre Group also offers an in-school residency as part of the larger August Wilson Program. The August Wilson In-School Residency is a semester-long program that provides Title 1 students with an in-depth study of the work of August Wilson. This year, classes from Animo Leadership Charter High School, Carson High School, East L.A. Performing Arts Magnet and Ellen Ochoa Prep Academy will take part in the residency. The students and teachers from the four classrooms selected will attend the AWMC Los Angeles Regional Finals as part of their residency experience, witnessing the power of theater as their peers bring August Wilson’s characters to life. 

“AWMC is one of the ways we honor the legacy of playwright August Wilson – a man whose work is truly timeless transcending race, gender and generations,” said Center Theatre Group Director of Education and Engagement Tyrone Davis. “It’s such a privilege to see young people from all over Los Angeles take on these iconic characters from the American theater.” 

AWMC is a national program presented by Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theaters and hosted in cities throughout the country, including Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, New Haven, New York, Pittsburgh, Portland, Seattle, Dallas and Greensboro, North Carolina. Each city runs its program differently and each experience is designed to provide intensive learning opportunities for high school students to study and practice the craft of acting through the work of August Wilson. 

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