On February 26th, 2018, thirteen young women representing eleven different Portland-area high schools competed in the August Wilson Monologue Competition. They were cheered on by a large and exuberant crowd (and each other) at the Newmark Theatre in downtown Portland. While all of these students gave their all, three of them rose to the top: Alyssa Marchant, a junior at Rex Putnam High School, in third place with an emotional rendition of Tonya from King Hedley II. Kai Tomizawa, a freshman from Grant High School, in second place with a gender-bending portrayal of Becker’s changed confrontation with his son in Jitney. And Noreena McCleave, a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, bringing down the house with laughter as Memphis from Two Trains Running.

Jump for joy! Alyssa, Noreena, and Kai after their big win. Photo credit: Wade Owens Jump for joy! Alyssa, Noreena, and Kai after their big win. Photo credit: Wade Owens

While Kai and Noreena are getting an all-expenses-paid trip to New York for National Finals, all of the participants went home with fabulous prizes in recognition of their dedication. They each were presented with a custom 2018 Portland August Wilson Monologue Competition hoodie, they each received tickets from Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland Center Stage, PassinArt, Third Rail Repertory Theatre, Portland Actors Conservatory, and Profile Theatre, and each of their schools will be receiving a box set of August Wilson’s 10-play American Century Cycle.

We’re looking forward to our trip to New York, but in the meantime, both Kai and Noreena will undergo further coaching to hone their performances. They have big shoes to fill – our first-place winner last year went on to take third place nationally, and our second-place winner from 2015 is now starring as Ti Moune in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island. Portland to Broadway. Just like that. And these two young women could be next!

Read Bob Hicks’ article for Oregon Arts Watch covering this event and several other “August occasions” going on in Portland in 2018: http://www.orartswatch.org/portlands-august-occasions/

The national program was founded at True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta in 2007 by Tony Award winner, Kenny Leon, and Todd Kreidler, August Wilson’s dramaturg for many of his plays. Other cities hosting competitions are: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Haven, New York, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Dallas, and Greensboro, North Carolina. The National August Wilson Monologue Competition is presented by Delta Air Lines and Aetna, and produced in collaboration between True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theatres.”

Thank you to our sponsors, supporters, and partners for this year’s August Wilson Monologue Competition. We couldn’t do this without you.
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