2020 August Wilson Competition Regional Winners Named

Top two winners will advance to national finals in New York on May 4

On February 15, sixteen finalists from multiple Texas high schools competed on the stage of the Bob Hope Theatre in the regional finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition, seeking a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the national competition in New York City. Three top winners from the Dallas region were selected: Boston Kimmons, Lancaster High School, Lancaster (1st place); Shy’Peria Brown, Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy, Grand Prairie (2nd place); and Prince Pierre, Clements High School, Sugar Land (3rd place).

Each of the contestants performed a two- to three-minute monologue from one of playwright August Wilson’s “Century Cycle” award-winning plays, all of which depict the African American experience in the 20th century. Competitors were judged on the basis of preparedness, understanding of the text, emotional connection to the material and commitment to the performance.

Kimmons and Brown will advance to the national finals, to be held May 4 at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre in New York. There, they will compete against regional winners from 13 other cities across the U.S. for scholarships, cash awards and their own set of Wilson’s Century Cycle collection of plays. The national finalists also will be treated to a Broadway production and will meet established actors, who in the past have included Denzel Washington, Phylicia Rashad and other stars of the stage. If either Kimmons or Brown is unable to make the trip, Pierre will serve as alternate.

Associate Professor of Theatre Benard Cummings established the Dallas regional competition in 2016 after working with the national competition for several years. Participation has continued to grow, so that the Dallas competition now includes participants from throughout the state.

Throughout the weeks-long preparation for the Dallas Region competition, several theatre students and recent alumni from Meadows School of the Arts assisted Cummings by coaching the high school competitors in a series of workshops or providing other support. They included local teaching artist Sasha Davis (B.F.A. ’16); Mikaela Brooks (B.F.A. ’19); Bonnie Scott (B.F.A. ’20), who won first place in the Dallas regional competition in 2016; and Coda Boyce (B.F.A. ’20).

The Dallas Region finals were emceed by award-winning actor and singer Denise Lee. Judges included Regina Washington, artistic director of African-American Repertory Theatre; Dr. Wambui Richardson, artistic director of Jubilee Theatre; Christie Howard, managing director of Jubilee Theatre; and Meadows alumni Sasha Davis, who served as head judge and co-coordinator of the competition, Mikaela Brooks, and Lizz Bashore (M.F.A. ’14).

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. The national sponsor is Delta.

Read more about the annual August Wilson Monologue Competition.

Read more about August Wilson.

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