Get to know the 2021 August Wilson Monologue Competition finalists! We asked a few of the students involved in this year's Regional Finals competition to share what they love about August Wilson, what they've learned, and more in a series of interviews. Hear from Sonia Johnson, Lauren Kirkpatrick, Malia Silva, Natalia Ortiz, and Alice Miller.
What drew you to the August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC)?
Lauren Kirkpatrick: "What drew me to the AWMC was the opportunity to use the power of storytelling to not only educate others on the Black experience, but also as a means of standing in my truth as a young Black student. I feel that continuing August Wilson's legacy through gifting his stories to others is essential to honoring Black joy and the hardships faced by my relatives throughout American history."
Malia Silva: "The prospect of a fun competition which would help me delve more deeply into August Wilson's profound work and one of the many characters he created, appealed to me and made me excited to participate in the competition."
Natalia Ortiz: "Every time I went to Seattle Rep to see a show, I would see a poster in the main lobby talking about the AWMC and I thought to myself 'I want to try that when I am in high school.' So now that I am a freshman, and I have not been able to do a whole lot of theater during the pandemic, nor participated in an acting competition before, I wanted to give it a go."
Alice Miller: "Participation in the AWMC is a tradition that my school's Acting Ensemble has been a part of for a while. Getting to be in a monologue competition was actually one of the big appeals of joining the group. When I got in, I was very excited to get an opportunity to learn, refine, and perform an August Wilson monologue."
What’s one thing you’ve learned from competing in AWMC?
Sonia Johnson: "I have learned that more kind people exist than I sometimes realize. Everyone in the competition has been so positive and welcoming and have reminded me that there are good people out there."
LK: "One thing that I've learned from competing in the AWMC involves better understanding the importance of experimentation and openness in the world of acting. It truly takes time, risk-taking, and mistakes to further character development. It's important to have fun in what I'm doing for the sake of possibly discovering better blocking, tone, or even facial expressions that fit the story I'm trying to tell. Seeking perfection shouldn't be the goal. If anything, focusing on perfection will only lead to a restriction in character/story development."
MS: "In this competition, I learned that I'm more than the hurtful experiences I've lived through and can strive to express them in healthy ways."
NO: "What I've learned from competing is the ability to understand the meaning of the monologue and the motivations of the character, as well as adopting the mindset that there is always room to improve your performance."
AM: "It goes without saying, that I've been given so much helpful advice on acting from coaching sessions. And another big thing I've learned is that it is more helpful to focus on my own personal growth, rather than on comparing myself to others, or on whether or not I'll win."
What do you love about August Wilson’s work?
SJ: "I love the characters. They all seem so real and their dialogue is so believable that I forget that I'm reading."
LK: "Something that I really value about August Wilson's work is his honesty/transparency. He doesn't try to sugar coat the reality of the struggles that come with the Black experience. However, he equally prioritizes celebrating the beauty that comes with being Black. His work provides an important and valuable message for all. But for me and many other Black students, his work provokes a sense of understanding and feeling of being truly seen."
MS: "I love how deep August Wilson dives into the backstory of his characters and how multi-layered they are. I also love his themes of destiny that always pop up in the most unexpected ways, like in King Hedley II."
NO: "August Wilson’s plays display the hard truths of living as a human being, having to deal with the negativity in society, and within ourselves. Also, the way that the characters have so much passion in what they are saying to each other - it’s a magical experience to witness."
AM: "I love how his American Century Cycle essentially tells the story of America through an African American perspective. I also love the detail and complexity of his stories; each play has unique characters whose motivations and emotions feel very real and are very powerful."
What three words would you use to describe your experience?
SJ: "Exciting, challenging, invigorating."
LK: "Authenticity, experimentation, community."
MS: "Energizing, informative, encouraging."
NO: "Powerful, unique, fun."
AM: Awesome, enlightening, expanding.
BONUS QUESTION: Favorite rehearsal snack?
SJ: "Chinese food."
LK: "I almost always drink green tea during rehearsals, but in terms of actual food, pineapple is the way to go."
MS: "My favorite rehearsal snack is whatever leftover food my sister doesn't want. I kind of just pick discarded things off her plate throughout the day."
NO: "Fig Bars or Mott’s gummies. Those are the best snacks to have anytime, anywhere."
AM: "Avocado toast!"
Watch these performers take the virtual stage on March 25 at 6 p.m. PT! Reserve your free tickets to AWMC Regional Finals today.