2018 August Wilson Competition Doubles in Size

Dallas Region event grows from 8 schools in 2016 to 17 schools in 2018

Dallas Region finals to be held Feb. 19 at SMU Meadows

On February 19 at 6 p.m., SMU Meadows will host the Dallas regional finals for the national August Wilson Monologue Competition. Some 23 high school students from around the state will take the stage at the Bob Hope Theatre to perform two- to three-minute monologues from works by August Wilson. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright is best known for his “Century Cycle,” a collection of plays about the African American experience in the 20th century. The top two contestants will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the national finals in New York City in May, where they will vie with regional winners from Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Greensboro, Los Angeles, New Haven, New York, Pittsburgh, Portland and Seattle for scholarships, cash awards and their own set of Wilson’s Century Cycle collection. In addition to performing at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre, the national finalists will be treated to a Broadway production and will meet established actors. In the past, visiting actors have included Denzel Washington, Phylicia Rashad and other stars of the stage.

The 23 Dallas Region finalists were selected during a semifinal round held at SMU Meadows on January 13, from a field of 112 competitors.

“The Dallas Region competition has ballooned since it first started in 2016,” said Associate Professor of Theatre Benard Cummings, who established the Dallas regional competition after working with the national competition for several years. “Our first year, we had 80 students from eight area high schools participating; this year, we had 112 students from 17 schools.” Cummings noted the contest also broadened its reach this year, attracting high schools outside the Dallas area, including schools from Austin, Houston, Richmond, Fort Worth, Tyler, Grand Prairie and Mansfield, in addition to returning high schools from Dallas, Cedar Hill, Arlington, Richardson and Plano.

The Dallas Region competition also features an essay contest in which students write an 800- to 1,000-word essay based on themes found in Wilson’s plays. Three essay winners will be announced at the Feb. 19 finals; each winner will receive a $100 cash prize.

The Dallas Region event of the national August Wilson Monologue Competition is sponsored by SMU Meadows School of the Arts. National presenters are True Colors Theatre Company of Atlanta and Jujamcyn Theaters of New York. National sponsors are Delta and Aetna.

Dallas Region Finals

Admission to the Feb. 19 Dallas Region finals is free. Doors to the Bob Hope Theatre will open at 5:30 p.m. and the competition will begin at 6 p.m. The finals will be emceed by actor Hassan El-Amin. Judges for the finals include Regina Washington, artistic director, African-American Repertory Theatre; Will Power, artist-in-residence, SMU Meadows and playwright-in-residence, Dallas Theater Center; Sasha Davis (B.F.A. Theatre Studies ’16), local teaching artist; Khira Hailey, local theatre director; Tonya Holloway, co-artistic director, Soul Rep Theatre Company; Bryan Pitts, local actor currently starring in Detroit ’67 at Jubilee Theatre; and Meadows alumnus, local actor Robert George.

The Bob Hope Theatre is located on the SMU campus in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd., Dallas, Texas, 75205. Read about parking.

Read more about the annual August Wilson Monologue Competition.

Read more about August Wilson.

Read more about SMU Meadows Division of Theatre and Associate Professor Benard Cummings.