August Wilson Monologue Competition is Coming to Buffalo!

And SEM Will Compete

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For the first time ever, Buffalo is one of the 12 cities participating in the August Wilson Monologue Competition, founded in 2009. This competition for students in grades 9-12 encourages them to learn about the African-American experience in American history through drama. A winner and an alternate will be chosen from SEM by an in-school competition in January and will then go on to participate in the Buffalo-wide competition at the 710 Main Theater hosted by the Paul Robeson Theater on February 3, 2018.  The winner and the alternate of the Buffalo competition will then perform their monologue at the August Wilson Theater in New York City on May 7, 2018. The competition is meant to be accessible to students of all ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and backgrounds– there is no fee to participate and the trip to New York City is all-expenses-paid.

Yasmeen Collins (’18) and Maddy Cherr (’18) practice their monologues in the makeup room.

August Wilson is an African American playwright famous for his “Century Cycle;” his plays capture a snapshot of African-American life during each decade of the twentieth century.

A few of the most famous plays in The Century Cycle are Fences (1987) and Jitney (1982), which represent the 1950s and the 1970s, respectively. According to Susan Drozd, the drama teacher at SEM, August Wilson “wanted to see people like himself onstage,” she later added that he also wanted to provide jobs for black actors. Ms. Drozd said that she brought the competition to SEM students because she “had a blast” teaching his plays to students. “His words are too good. It’s like teaching Shakespeare; his words are too good to not be read out loud,” she said.

 

Many SEM students have already started choosing their monologues. Students are encouraged to not only choose monologues by characters similar to them. Grace

Grace Harvey (’21) and Dagny Rebhan (’21) are excited to begin working on their monologues!

Harvey, a freshman, said “I’m most likely going to do a monologue from a 40-year-old black man with a son. This is obviously not who I am in the real world.”

Others have not yet chosen their monologues, but still have ideas about what type of monologues they would like. Maddy Cherr, a senior, said that she wants “something she can bring emotional depth to.” Freshman Dagny Rebhan explained that she would prefer to perform a comical monologue because Ms. Drozd told her, “you need to bring some truth to it.”

The August Wilson Monologue Competition is an exciting opportunity for SEM students, especially those who wish to celebrate the diversity of the American experience through drama. As senior Yasmeen Collins said, “I’m really grateful and in awe that someone like August Wilson who has provided so much for the black community is mainstream enough that we are able to have a national competition in his honor.”