Ryan Lewis, a Discovery High School student, placed second at the 2017 National August Wilson Monologue Competition, earning $750 and a $1,000 college scholarship. Lewis qualified for the 8th annual competition after finishing 2nd in the state competition. He was the only Gwinnett County student to advance to the state competition.
The National August Wilson Monologue Competition, held in New York City, featured high school students from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Dallas, and elsewhere performing monologues by the late legendary American Playwright. A panel of celebrity judges evaluated the competitors and selected a winner. The top three contestants from the national competition received college scholarship opportunities in addition to monetary awards and the gift of TCG’s Century Cycle collection. The first place winner received a $1,500 cash prize, the runner-up a $750 cash prize, and a $500 cash prize went to the honorable mention honoree. Each of the winners also received college scholarships of $1,500, $1,000, $500, respectively.
The National August Wilson Monologue Competition is a free arts education program, a celebration of the words of the playwright August Wilson, inspiring high school students to find and express themselves through theatre. August Wilson was an American playwright. His literary legacy is a series of 10 plays, The American Century Cycle, for which he received two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. Each is set in a different decade, depicting the comic and tragic aspects of the African-American experience in the 20th century.
The evening also included performances by well-known Wilsonian veterans and special musical guests. Among those who have previously lent their support as performers, judges, and guests are Phylicia Rashad, Russell Hornsby, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Scott Rudin, Guy Davis, Lynda Gravatt, Keith Randolph Smith, Tamara Tunie, Katori Hall, Maurice Hines, Chris Chalk, LaTanya Richardson, Heather Alicia Simms, Pauletta Washington, and Mykelti Williamson, among others. In the past, students have had the opportunity to spend time with other prominent Broadway performers over the course of the weekend, including Denzel Washington and Daniel Radcliffe.
The National August Wilson Monologue Competition was founded in 2007 by Kenny Leon and Todd Kreidler at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta. The national program is produced in collaboration between Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theaters.