Next Stop: Broadway
Winners of the 2019 Dallas Region August Wilson Monologue Competition Heading to National Finals in NYC
From 140 competitors in the semifinals to 17 in the final round, three participants emerged as winners of the 2019 August Wilson Monologue Competition/Dallas Region on Saturday, February 16, at SMU Meadows School of the Arts. All contestants performed dramatic monologues from one of August Wilson’s “Century Cycle” plays, which focus on the 20th century African American experience.
The top three winners each received cash prizes, and the top two winners will go on an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to represent the Dallas Region in the nationals on May 6, 2019, at the August Wilson Theater on Broadway.
Representing the Dallas Region will be first-place winner Myah Durham, from Ovation Academy of the Arts in Prosper, Texas, and second place winner Madison Meadows, from Booker T. Washington HSPVA. Should one of them not be able to attend, third-place winner Bailey James, from Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy, will serve as alternate.
In New York, the Dallas region winners will compete against winners from Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Greensboro, Los Angeles, New Haven, New York, Pittsburgh and Seattle. In addition to winning cash prizes and a set of Wilson’s Century Cycle collection, the national finalists will be treated to a Broadway production and meet established actors, who in the past have included Denzel Washington, Phylicia Rashad and other stars of the stage.
The Dallas Region also holds an annual essay contest based on prompts relating to themes found in August Wilson plays. Students from any of the participating high schools can enter. Three winners were announced at the Dallas Region finals, including Jaurius Norman, Cedar Hill High School; Chelsea Ginns of Willowridge High School in Houston; and Kai Conner of Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy. Each essay winner took home a cash prize, and their essays will appear in a future posting of the online Samuel French publication Breaking Character Magazine.
Emceeing the Dallas Region finals was actress and vocalist Liz Mikel, known for her television and film work in Friday Night Lights, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins and her extensive work with the Tony-winning Dallas Theater Center. Joining Mikel was Ed Smith, who has directed seven of the 10 plays in the August Wilson Century Cycle at theaters around the country and is former artistic director of Jubilee Theatre in Fort Worth.
While waiting for the judges to determine the top three winners, the crowd was entertained by five SMU students. Temi George (B.A. English/Creative Writing; B.A. Corporate Communication and Public Affairs ’21) read one of her poems, Brief Prayer for a Brother, and Coda Boyce (B.F.A. Theatre ’20) performed a lively tap dance to Prince’s Kiss. Roderick Woodruff (B.F.A. Theatre ’19), Jasonica Moore (B.F.A. Theatre ’19) and Sami Habib (B.F.A. Theatre ’21) performed a selection of songs and invited competition participants to come up on stage and sing along.
In the days leading up to the competition, several SMU Meadows Theatre majors pitched in by working with the contestants on their deliveries and helping with semifinal and final logistics: Coda Boyce; Diego Martinez Martinez (B.F.A. Theatre ’19); Jasonica Moore; Jeffery Pope (B.F.A. Theatre ’21); Bonnie Scott (B.F.A. Theatre ’19); Stakiah Washington (B.F.A. Theatre ’21); and Roderick Woodruff. Pope, Scott and Washington are all former Dallas Region winners of previous August Wilson Monologue Competitions.
Associate Professor Benard Cummings is the founder and head of the Dallas Region competition. Meadows alumna Sasha Davis (B.F.A. Theatre Studies ’16) served as Dallas Region co-coordinator and head judge for the preliminary and finals competitions.
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.
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.