‘The Voiceless Have a Voice': High School Students Take on the Words of Playwright August Wilson

In a tiny theater at Southern Methodist University, an old master got together with some new friends. The master, playwright August Wilson, died in 2005. His new friends, high school actors now, were barely out of preschool at the time of Wilson’s death.The event that brought them together recently was the August Wilson Monologue Competition, a national educational program that celebrates Wilson’s art while, in the words of the competition’s organizers, “inspiring high school students to find and express themselves through theater.”Dallas was one of 12 U.S. cities to host a regional stage of the monologue competition. The top performers from each region will gather in New York City on May 7 for the national finals at the August Wilson Theatre on West 52nd Street. The top three national finishers win cash prizes, college scholarships and a hardbound edition of The Century Cycle, Wilson’s collection of 10 plays about black life in America in the 20th century.This year's SMU competition drew more than 110 high school students from throughout the Dallas area, as well as Tyler, Austin and Houston. (Flu knocked out one San Antonio school that planned to take part.) Each student performed a two- to three-minute monologue of his or her choosing from one of Wilson's plays.Twenty-three finalists competed in late February. Seven judges, all professionals from the Dallas theater community, selected the winners.  Continue reading...

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