Tennesse Williams, Eugene O’Neill, Mark Twain, Terrance McNally, Arthur Miller are some of America’s most revered playwrights. We speak their name and discuss their work often, but why do we not discuss Suzan Lori Parks, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, August Wilson with the same enthusiasm and reverence. August Wilson is a national treasure and the resonance of his words and unique, yet familiar gaze into the world of Black Americans continues to breathe as the spotlight continues to shine beyond the stage to cinema.
The August Wilson Monologue Competition searches far and wide across the U.S. for the best performances centered around the literary works of Tony winning playwright August Wilson. Wilson has a catalogue of ten plays which include Fences, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Jitney, The Piano Lesson, King Hedley II, Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running, Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Radio Golf. Dozens of actors have become household names as a result of being featured in these brilliant pieces which tout wordy monologues for every single character. Samuel L. Jackson, Charles S. Dutton, S. Epatha Merkeson, Angela Bassett, Rocky Carroll, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Delroy Linda, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Courtney B. Vance and Giving Voice Executive Producer Oscar | Emmy | Tony winner Viola Davis.
Directors James D. Stern and Fernando Villena brings the audience through a journey of a handful of the finalists from their local auditions to performing onstage at the Jujujamcyn’s August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. For some, it would be their very first time acting (Cody Merridith), for others an opportunity to stretch and grow (Callie Holley) and for a select few a moment that proves to be life and career altering as they pursue a career in the arts.
In addition to performing on Broadway, the top two winners from each regional competition participate in the National Finals, an all-expense paid trip to New York City that includes workshops with theatre professionals, ticket to a Broadway show and cash prizes for the top three winners.
Villena and Stern fill us with all the nerves and anticipation each contestant, those rooting for them and their fellow competitors are going through in real time to the point that you find yourself cheering and rooting as an audience member.
Kudos and major applause to to Kenny Leon’s True Colors, Julius Tennon, Denzel Washington and of course Lady Vi and Netflix for reminding us what i’s like to dream again from the youth and promise of today’s high school artists. Giving Voice is now steaming via Netflix.