Earlier this month, DRW College Prep, sophomore, Dalencia Brown, had the opportunity to participate in the 9th Annual August Wilson Monologue Finals in Chicago. As a finalist, Dalencia competed against 22 other Chicago area sophomores, juniors and seniors on March 4th, 2019 at the Goodman Theatre. The National August Wilson Monologue Competition is a free arts and education program that celebrates the work of Black playwright August Wilson.
“August Wilson is an important playwright to highlight because he was the voice of Black Americans. His plays are literal stories of our history, pain, and experience- stories that have been silenced and overlooked,” said Ms. Donier Tyler, Founding Theatre Arts Instructor and Dalencia’s teacher at DRW College Prep. “Giving a platform to his work, means giving a platform to Black America,” added Ms. Tyler.
Over 600 students from across Chicago participated in the preliminary rounds of this competition. There are several stages in this process that include preliminary auditions, the semi-finals and the Chicago Finals. This was also the first time that DRW College Prep competed. “It is so important for students to participate in competitions like the August Wilson Monologue Competition because it not only gives them confidence as performers, but gives them experience performing in front of public crowds. Furthermore, it builds discipline, focus, determination, and self-confidence. I always push my students to compete outside of DRW to broaden their horizons and position themselves for more opportunities in performance. The August Wilson Competition historically has had its top 20 go-on to bigger and brighter things, such as: starring in television shows, performing on Broadway, creating their own theatre companies, and receiving full scholarships to college,” explained Ms. Tyler.
According to Dalencia, participating in this competition has helped to grow her skills as a public speaker and has increased her confidence in her acting abilities. Being a participant has taught her that it isn’t always about winning, but that every new experience is a learning process. Dalencia mentioned that as she continued to advance in the competition, she learned that performing isn’t as scary as it may seem. She was able to meet a number of people that not only inspired her to continue to practice her craft, but helped her work towards mastering it.
“My hopes for students like Dalencia and all of my other students at DRW are to always follow your dreams. My life’s desire is to see all my kids become their dreams, and if that dream starts with competing in the August Wilson Competition, I will do whatever I can to make that a starting point to be the catalyst to get them to their final destination. Whether it be achieving confidence or becoming the next Viola Davis! With hard work and determination mixed with discipline, we can make every and anything happen! Next year, we are going for first place,” exclaimed Ms. Tyler
Although Dalencia isn’t sure that she would like to pursue acting as a career, she is very much interested in participating in the August Wilson Monologue Competition every year that she is at DRW. Her goal is to continue competing until she becomes a National Finalist in New York City. During her first year competing, Dalencia beat over 60 students during the Semi Finals and over 400 students total in Chicagoland. Dalencia’s involvement in this competition has awarded her school with the complete August Wilson compendium that consist of 10 of Wilson’s plays.
“I am so excited and extremely grateful to have the complete compendium! I intend to use the set with my Intro to Theatre classes during our monologue focused lessons, to broaden their knowledge of August Wilson and make them stronger performers,” added Ms. Tyler.
Check out the gallery featuring the August Wilson Monologue Competition selects below:
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