Anotidaishe Chikunya, a senior at Dana Hall School, took first place on Jan. 28 with her performance as Berniece from “The Piano Lesson” at the Boston Regional Finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition.
The competition was held for the ninth year by the Education Department of the Huntington Theatre Company, the playwright’s longtime artistic home.
Sarah Purvis, a junior at Boston Collegiate Charter School, was named first runner-up and portrayed Black Mary from “Gem of the Ocean”; Osamede Izevbizua, a junior at John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, was named second runner-up and portrayed Toledo from Ma Rainey’s “Black Bottom.” The three will receive a total of $850 in prize money and the top two winners will be awarded an all-expense-paid trip to New York City where they will perform their monologues at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre in the National Competition on May 6. Airfare, hotel accommodations, workshops and tickets to attend a Broadway production will be provided in collaboration with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theatres. The national competition is free and open to the public.
The August Wilson Monologue Competition celebrates the writing of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright. Over 670 high school students from 18 Boston area schools participated in the program this school year; the winner of each school competition competed in a semi-final round on Jan. 19 at the Huntington’s Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Twelve advanced to the finals on Jan. 28.
The competition was created by Kenny Leon and Todd Kreidler, two of August Wilson’s closest collaborators. Leon worked closely with Wilson and directed many of the American Century Cycle plays on Broadway and at major regional theaters, including the Huntington. True Colors Associate Artistic Director Kreidler served as dramaturg for Wilson’s Radio Golf.
“The competition offers students an interactive way to learn about Wilson’s work and how his plays connect with each decade in the 20th century,” said Kreidler. “Students learn about history, social studies and literature through performing monologues from Wilson’s plays and studying his American Century Cycle.”