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to Center Theatre Group. Thank you for being a part of the magic of this evening, which is a testament to the endurance of August Wilson’s words, the power of young people, the strength of community, and the importance of theatre.

It is an honor and a privilege to continue to give August Wilson’s work a stage and an artistic home in Los Angeles. The American Century Cycle is more important now than ever because—by depicting the 20TH century African American experience— it reminds us of our shared humanity and of the multitude of stories we all have to tell. The young people on the Mark Taper Forum stage tonight have put in hours of rehearsal. In the process, they’ve learned about the technical aspects of performance, but more importantly, they’ve discovered how to find themselves in August Wilson’s stories. They’ve discovered that their voices matter. They’ve discovered what they can achieve when they put the work in. They’ve discovered the power of collaboration— of working together as an ensemble. By being here tonight to support them, and by supporting them in their journey to the stage—as a parent, educator, or friend, as a Center Theatre Group donor, as a part of the Los Angeles theatre community—you have also helped them learn why community matters. The very nature of theatre is that it brings a community together. We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for believing in these young people. Thank you for believing in theatre.


Dear Students,

It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome you, the participants of the eighth annual August Wilson Monologue Competition, to tonight’s Los Angeles Regional Finals at the Mark Taper Forum. Dedication and hard work have brought you here, and each and every one of you who participated in the program are Center Theatre Group’s most honored guests. It has been a privilege for the Center Theatre Group Affiliates to support the August Wilson Program since its inception in 2011, and we continue to be awestruck by the inspiring young performers who participate each year. We have witnessed participants as they found their voices through the magnificent words of August Wilson’s characters, and watched with pride as these students came into their own as artists, right before our eyes. We have also had the pleasure of traveling to New York to support our Regional Finalists at the National Finals on Broadway, but truly, we could not be more proud of the incredible achievements of all of you. Center Theatre Group is a place where August Wilson himself felt inspired and at home, a place where he knew he could take artistic risks. It is our sincere hope that you, the next generation of artists, also feel that support and believe in theatre as a vital source of ideas and motivation. Voices like yours will help keep August Wilson’s legacy alive! As an inaugural partner and presenting sponsor of this magnificent program, we would like to thank all of the educators, parents, friends, and advocates who helped the performers on their journey to the stage on this special night. To the finalists, we offer our heartfelt congratulations, and to all participants, we wish you much success in your future endeavors, both onstage and off. Break a leg! Dr. Carmen Schaye PRESIDENT, CENTER THEATRE GROUP AFFILIATES




E.J. Cabasal and Pablo Lopez Alumni Hosts



STUDENT PERFORMERS (in alphabetical order) Bene’t Benton

Molly Cunningham, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone

Kyle Branch

Old Joe, Radio Golf

Samuel Caruana

Avery, The Piano Lesson

Tiffany DeBerry

King Hedley II, King Hedley II

Dejean Deterville

Sterling, Two Trains Running

Mylah Eaton

Vera, Seven Guitars

Jofre Paul Francisco Booster, Jitney

Jada Henry Rose, Fences

Laila C. Stewart Vera, Seven Guitars

Vanessa Valencia

Ma Rainey, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Daniel Velez


Levee, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Ryan Wade

Becker, Jitney






She Helps Young People Find their Voices through Wilson’s Words She didn’t know it at the time, but Andi Chapman’s first encounter with August Wilson was prophetic. “He said ‘hello’ and told me I had hands like his mother,” said Chapman— who, 22 years old and beginning graduate school at the Yale School of Drama, wasn’t sure what to think. Today, however, “That’s a special thing to me because I feel like a mother, a nurturer, of the kids here at the August Wilson Program.” Chapman, a director, actor, and educator, holds the title Program Advisor on the August Wilson Program Faculty at Center Theatre Group. But as so many young people and their families know, she is much more than that. Since the program’s inception in 2011—when she also helped create the curriculum for the In-School Residency—she has trained, taught, and supported every single Regional Finalist to come through the Los Angeles August Wilson Monologue Competition. “I have a passion for education and students and storytelling,” said Chapman. “I know what it feels like when your voice is heard. It was important to me to pass that on.” Chapman also passes on her experience and training as a professional director (who directs the Antaeus Theatre Company production of Native Son at Center

Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre April 18–28, 2019) and actor. “The confidence a teacher gave me in the seventh grade to have my own voice, to know my voice mattered in the world, also gave me the confidence to do something as fearless as Native Son and all the work I’ve done,” she said. “If I can somehow, some way, pass that on, somebody else will have the same experience.”

“I know what it feels like when your voice is heard. It was important to me to pass that on.” This goal is at the core of the training and rehearsals she leads the Regional Finalists through in the weeks leading up to tonight. “The first thing I ask them in the workshops I do is what drew them to the monologue they selected,” said Chapman. “They’ll say, ‘I identify with Booster,’ ‘I identify with Bertha.’ I ask them why. There was something in their song, in these characters’ voices, that spoke to them. And then I encourage them to tell it within the context that August Wilson has set up. That’s what’s most important: their voice is heard, but it’s heard through the lines of August Wilson. The

challenge is to ensure that the authenticity of the monologues is honored and the voices of the students are honored.” In all of the activities the students do, Wilson is at the center. “I show them who he is, show them his work, let them hear his voice in different interviews and things so they can see the kind of man he was,” she said. Also at the core of the students’ learnings is that “working together is key and ensemble is key. I know it says ‘August Wilson Monologue Competition,’ but it’s really ensemble,” said Chapman. “We’re one voice trying to tell a story of this particular artist.” That feeling carries through the Regional Finals and beyond. “Every group we’ve had has been very supportive of each other. Backstage when we’re doing the show, they’re all hugging, they’re right there with each other. Whoever’s going to go on to New York, the whole village goes along. We all go with them.” She added, “The win is not so much the trip to New York. The win is for a student to feel as if they have fulfilled the telling of the story—and they used themselves to do so. That’s the great beauty of this program.”

Jada Henry To realize that acting isn’t performing; it’s simply living.

Jofre Paul Francisco

Laila C. Stewart

To heighten my understanding of the truth that lies in everyday encounters.

To be free and to know I don’t need to hold back or accommodate for anyone else.


The artists onstage tonight are a multifaceted bunch. They are performers and photographers; they draw and play guitar; they are cinephiles and jazz aficionados. They count among their influences and inspirations a diverse group of artists, including Beyoncé, Alfonso Cuarón, Viola Davis, Daniel Day-Lewis, Donald Glover, Gordon Parks, Lea Salonga, Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, and Stevie Wonder.

Mylah Eaton To broaden my horizons and see into the lives of people I’ve rarely seen represented in theatre.

Dejean Deterville

Tiffany DeBerry

To commit to any task with confidence and drive to reach any goal, and to break down barriers.

As a writer, to create characters with an overwhelming sense of reality.

Vanessa Valencia To work hard and to show people what my culture is all about.

Daniel Velez

Ryan Wade

To understand that we’re all ordinary and yet extraordinary— we all have something to say.

To see that life is too short to be dwelling on the wrong things.

Tonight we’re honoring not only August Wilson but the artists who influenced him. With that in mind, we asked the Regional Finalists:

Bene’t Benton

Kyle Branch

To find a deeper understanding of my personal roots and where they fit into the community as a whole.

To research the struggles of his characters and to dig deeper within myself to try to find similar emotions to portray.

Samuel Caruana To be more observant and interested in family history, and to grow as an actor and person.

More than a contest, the August Wilson Monologue Competition is a months-long journey that challenges every student who participates to grow and celebrates their accomplishments along the way.



Guided by experienced Teaching Artists, students learn acting and auditioning fundamentals and about the work and life of August Wilson.

Every round of auditions includes individual written feedback from theatre professionals as students gain valuable performance and audition practice.

Every participating student got preparation from theatre professionals at Orientation Workshops, and received a copy of an August Wilson play. Advancing students were invited to a Semifinalists’ Workshop to refine their monologues. The Regional Finalists spent 20 hours in Training & Rehearsals over the past three months. National Finalists will prepare in Master Classes before their Broadway debut.

133 students represented 31 schools at Preliminary Auditions. 57 students performed in the Semifinal Auditions. 12 students are onstage in tonight’s Regional Finals.

Create The soul of this program is encouraging students to find their voices and tell their stories. Classroom Outreach sent program alumni around L.A. before Preliminary Auditions. All participants were invited to a Wilson-inspired Monologue Writing Workshop in February.

Come Celebrate Together We honor our finalists and the people who got them to the Taper—celebrating the work they’ve put in and the support they received from family, friends, and educators.

The Regional Finalists have trained and worked as an ensemble to help keep August Wilson’s words and legacy alive for their generation—and to use them to inspire us all.

An Awards Ceremony in January celebrated the Regional Finalists and their supporters.

Tonight’s Regional Finals gathers together students, families, friends, Center Theatre Group supporters, and August Wilson fans.

Two students will travel to New York City for the National Finals at the August Wilson Theatre on May 6, 2019.

THE AMERIcAN CENTURY cYCLE August Wilson was an American playwright who believed in the importance of history to find out who you are and where you’ve been. He said, “It becomes doubly important if someone else has been writing your history.” Over the course of 25 years, August Wilson completed 10 plays— each set in a different decade of the 20TH century—capturing the universal themes of love, honor, duty, and betrayal through the daily lives, dreams, triumphs, and tragedies of African Americans, one decade at a time. “Put them all together,” Wilson once said, “and you have a history.” Through The American Century Cycle plays, Wilson paints a vivid portrait of life in a particular community—the Hill District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Wilson grew up. The individuals who reside there— the garbage collector, the ex-convict, the waitress, the unlicensed taxi cab drivers, and their neighbors—are all defined by a relentless struggle for dignity, security, and happiness in the face of often overwhelming obstacles.

AUGUST WILSON & CENTER theaTre GrOup For over 25 years, Center Theatre Group has celebrated August Wilson’s work through productions at our theatres, educational programming, and assisting with his development process. In the 1990s, Center Theatre Group joined a network of regional theatres producing Wilson’s plays. We participated in such production sharing for seven of Wilson’s 10 plays. Wilson traveled with the plays from theatre to theatre, analyzing and editing at each stop—including at our theatres, where he often sat among the audience—to perfect his works before they moved to New York. Center Theatre Group has produced nine of the 10 plays in the Cycle to date.

GEM OF THE OCEAN “It’s all an adventure. That’s all life is. But you got to trust that adventure.” Citizen Barlow arrives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Hill District in 1904 as part of the wave of freed slaves migrating from the South to the North following the Civil War. Barlow finds a haven—and eventually, redemption—at the home of 285-year-old Aunt Ester.

JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE “When a man forgets his song he goes in search for it…till he find out he’s got it with him all the time.” In 1917, Herald Loomis returns to Pittsburgh in search of his wife—but haunted by the memory of bounty hunter Joe Turner, the man who had illegally enslaved him. “Conjure man” Bynum helps Loomis release himself from his past.

MA RAINEY’S THE PIANO BLACK BOTTOM LESSON “If you colored and can make them some money, then you all right with them. Otherwise, you just a dog in the alley.” The only play of The American Century Cycle not set in Pittsburgh takes place in 1927, during a recording session at a whiteowned Chicago studio with legendary blues singer Ma Rainey. Ma and her band deal with the pressures of a music business that abuses and victimizes its black artists while trying to find solace in the blues.

“You can sit up here and look at the piano for the next hundred years and it’s just gonna be a piano.” In the throes of the Great Depression, in 1936, Boy Willie and his sister Berniece battle over the possession of a piano covered in carvings that illustrate the history of the family and their ancestors. Boy Willie wants to sell the piano to buy land the family worked on as slaves; Berniece wants to keep the piano but has no intention of playing it.

SEVEN GUITARS “I always did believe in love. I felt like if you don’t believe in love you may as well not believe in nothing.” After 90 days in the county jail, Floyd Barton wants to jump-start both his temporarily abandoned recording career and his love affair with Vera. But in 1948 Pittsburgh, Floyd and his friends find that if you’re a black man—even if you were willing to die for your country in World War II—the deck is still stacked against you.

FENCES “A man’s got to do what’s right for him. I ain’t sorry for nothing I done. It felt right in my heart.” Troy Maxson is a garbage collector and a former Negro League home run king who believes racism destroyed his shot at going pro. In 1957—10 years after Jackie Robinson broke the Major League Baseball color line—Troy and his son Cory clash over what Troy sees as Cory’s doomed pursuit of a college football scholarship.


John Earl Jelks in Gem of the Ocean.

Skye Barrett and John Douglas Thompson in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.


APRIL 27, 1945





Frederick August Kittel is the fourth of six children born to Daisy Wilson, a house cleaner, and Frederick Kittel, a German immigrant who is mostly absent. Daisy Wilson raises the family in the predominantly black Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where her son ultimately set nine of the 10 plays in The American Century Cycle.

After being accused of plagiarizing a paper on Napoleon Bonaparte, 15-year-old Wilson drops out of Gladstone High School. It was the third high school Wilson attended in less than two years; he faced hostility and harassment as a black student in the Jim Crow era. Wilson continues his education informally at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and on the streets of the Hill District, soaking in the language of its people and the culture of his community.

Wilson works a variety of jobs and begins writing poetry, purchases his first typewriter, discovers legendary singer Bessie Smith and the blues, and changes his name to August Wilson to honor his mother.

Wilson marries his first wife, Brenda Burton, and has his first daughter, Sakina Ansari Wilson.

Wilson moves to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he concentrates more on playwriting and becomes a company member of the Penumbra Theatre.

1962–63 Wilson enlists in the U.S. Army and is discharged after one year.

1968 Wilson and Rob Penny co-found the Black Horizon Theater in the Hill District, a black nationalist communitybased theatre that produces plays from and inspired by the black canon as well as new work by emerging African American writers. Wilson serves as resident director.

1973 Wilson’s first play, Recycling, is staged.

“No matter what you always on the edge. If you go to the center you look up and find everything done shifted and the center is now the edge.”

In the backyard of a house in a Hill District blasted by decay and urban blight in 1985 Pittswburgh, King Hedley II, with a warrior spirit but no education or prospects, daydreams with his friend Mister about opening a Kung Fu video rental store using the money they make selling stolen refrigerators.

In 1977, the gypsy cab, or jitney, station in the Hill District run by Becker is going to be demolished by the city to make room for new construction. Becker must decide whether to fight City Hall, look for a new place, or close up shop—at the same time as his son, Booster, is released from prison.

In 1968—the same year Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated—the city of Pittsburgh plans to demolish Memphis Lee’s restaurant. Lee, his neighbors, and his patrons ponder whether their community and identity can survive urban renewal.


“The people need to know the story. See how they fit into it. See what part they play.”

“But I’m through making excuses for anybody... including myself. I ain’t gonna pass it on. I say we stay here.”

“This what we call life ain’t nothing. You can blow it away with a blink of an eye. But death… you can’t blow away death. It lasts forever.”

1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960



1979 Wilson writes Jitney, which he considers his first real play, and is also the first play of what would become The American Century Cycle.

(L-R) Rocky Carroll and Anthony Chisholm in Radio Golf.

1980 1981 Wilson marries his second wife, Judy Oliver.

1982 Jitney premieres at Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Repertory Theatre. Wilson meets Lloyd Richards, the African American Artistic Director of the Yale Repertory Theatre, who goes on to direct Wilson’s first six plays on Broadway.

In 1997, Ivy League-educated Harmond Wilks, who wants to become Pittsburgh’s first black mayor, plans to redevelop the Hill District and bring in Whole Foods and Starbucks. But when an owner of a house slated for demolition refuses to sell, Wilks finds his morals and ideals tested by those around him.

1984 Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom premieres to critical acclaim, quickly moves to Broadway, and wins Wilson his first New York Drama Critics Circle award. Wilson comes up with the idea for The American Century Cycle. He told an interviewer that after writing Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, “I said, ‘I’ve written three plays in three different decades, so why don’t I just continue to do that?’”


(L-R) Jason Dirden, Glynn Turman, Damon Gupton, Keith David, and Lillias White in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Photos by Craig Schwartz.








Fences premieres starring James Earl Jones.

The Piano Lesson premieres at the Yale Repertory Theatre. Wilson is named the 1990 Pittsburgher of the Year by Pittsburgh Magazine.

Seven Guitars premieres, earning Viola Davis her first Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play the following year.

Wilson’s second daughter, Azula Carmen Wilson, is born.

Gem of the Ocean premieres at Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum before heading to Broadway.



The Piano Lesson opens on Broadway and wins Wilson his fourth New York Drama Critics Circle Award and his second Pulitzer. Two Trains Running premieres. Wilson moves to Seattle, Washington.

At the Theatre Communications Group National Conference, Wilson delivers the keynote speech, “The Ground on Which I Stand,” sparking debate and controversy in the theatre world with its passionate call for a reevaluation of the place of African American theatre in the culture.

Radio Golf, the last play in The American Century Cycle, premieres at the Taper in August. In June, Wilson is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer; he dies on October 2 in Seattle. Two weeks later, the former Virginia Theater on Broadway is renamed the August Wilson Theatre.

1986 Joe Turner’s Come and Gone premieres. Two years later, the Broadway production receives six Tony Award® nominations.

1987 Fences opens on Broadway, wins the Tony Award for Best Play, and earns Wilson his first Pulitzer Prize. The play goes on to gross $11 million during its inaugural Broadway season, setting a record for a non-musical. 

1994 Wilson marries costume designer Constanza Romero.

1999 King Hedley II premieres. President Bill Clinton awards Wilson the National Humanities Medal. The Hill District Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh awards Wilson an honorary high school diploma—a first for the library.

2010 2010




The first Broadway revival of Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis and directed by Kenny Leon, receives 10 Tony nominations and wins Best Actor in a Play, Best Actress in a Play, and Best Revival of a Play.

The movie version of Fences premieres, directed by Denzel Washington with a screenplay by Wilson. Washington and Viola Davis star, reprising their 2010 Tony-winning Broadway roles. It is the first feature film adaptation of an August Wilson play.

Fences receives four Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Denzel Washington), Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis), and Best Adapted Screenplay (August Wilson). Davis wins the Oscar.

Denzel Washington leads a group of celebrity donors— including Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Shonda Rhimes, Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, and Antoine Fuqua—in raising funds to restore Wilson’s childhood home in Pittsburgh.

Jitney, directed by Ruben SantiagoHudson, becomes the final play of The American Century Cycle to receive a Broadway production and goes on to win the 2017 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

August Wilson’s writing has been profoundly influenced by what he calls

The Four B’s

The Blues Wilson’s greatest influence was the blues. In 1965 he first

heard Bessie Smith’s recording of “Nobody in Town Can Bake a Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine” and said it “spoke to something in myself. It said, this is yours.” The blues made him recognize the poetry in the everyday language of black America and gave him the inspiration and freedom to use that language in his own writing. Wilson also recognized the blues as something bigger: a continuation of the oral traditions of the past and a way of passing information within communities and from generation to generation.

Jorge Luis Borges Wilson loved the way 20

-century Argentine writer Borges could, in Wilson’s words, “tell you exactly what was going to happen” in the short story, but then tell the story so masterfully, the reader still doesn’t quite see it coming: “The suspense is, how is this going to happen?” There’s a dramatic tension when the reader knows something a character in the story does not know. Borges’ influence is felt in Wilson’s work with the presence of ghosts, trips to the past, and other magical moments. TH


Amiri Baraka

From “Amiri Baraka, I learned that all art is political, although I don’t write political plays,” said Wilson. Wilson and Baraka, a fellow 20TH-century African American writer, were both adamant about not following Western influences in their writing while providing a voice for the African American community. Baraka was best known for his poetry, which was both applauded and condemned for its political content. In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement in America, Baraka tried to use his writing to fight racism by expressing the anger the African American community was feeling.

Romare Bearden

Late in 1977 a friend showed Wilson the work of visual artist Romare Bearden, who painted a lot of collages related to rituals in everyday life. Bearden portrayed African American life in a way Wilson had never seen before. Describing his first reaction to Bearden’s work Wilson stated, “What I saw was black life presented on its own terms, on a grand and epic scale, with all its richness and fullness. And it wasn’t sentimental... I was looking at myself in ways I hadn’t thought of before and have never ceased to think of since.”

Romare Bearden jorge luis borges

Amiri Baraka

The August Wilson In-School Residency is an interactive and multidisciplinary exploration of Wilson’s life and work. This year’s curriculum focuses on the play Seven Guitars. “Having a story like Seven Guitars illustrate one man’s pursuit of his dream, within his identity as an artist and as a black man, allows anyone reading or watching the opportunity to reflect and check in on their own pursuit of happiness,” explained August Wilson In-School Residency Program Advisor Nijeul X. Porter. Educators at Title I high schools from across Los Angeles County are invited to apply to participate, and we’re thrilled to welcome four groups this year.

(L–R) Teaching Artists Ryan Williams French, Ciera Payton, Johnathon Jackson, and Lakisha May.

L.A. Classrooms Get into the Cycle ALL ABOUT THE 2018/19 AUGUST WILSON IN-SCHOOL RESIDENCY 4


1. Craig Robinson’s class at Ánimo Leadership Charter High School

2 1

2. Guadalupe Carrasco Cardona’s class at Augustus Hawkins High School 3. Marcia Barryte’s class at Carson High School 3

4. Russell Copley’s class at Sonia Sotomayor Center for Arts & Sciences 5. The Mark Taper Forum in Downtown L.A.

They’re guided by Teaching Artists Ciera Payton, Ryan Williams French, Johnathon Jackson, and Lakisha May. “This team is grounded in the importance of Wilson and his contribution to the preservation of blackness in America,” said Porter.

“I’m honored to share this experience with each of them and the young people we get to work with.”

August Wilson In-School Residency Program Advisor Nijeul X. Porter.

In-class Residency sessions are held weekly from January – April. Tonight is a highlight of the program: all of the classes are here to watch the monologues, be inspired, and cheer on their peers. The final sessions are dedicated to a culminating activity—inspired by August Wilson and the four B’s—where students present personal stories about their own influences. Robinson, whose students are primarily Latino, appreciates the opportunity to give them “an indepth experience and examination of African American culture. Students are expected to make connections between the text and themselves and their culture, and to bring awareness, tolerance, and understanding to the differences in culture.” “The way that the themes are studied make an already relevant play extremely accessible to students,” explained Carrasco Cardona. “The students of my school are living examples of the themes explored in each of the 10 Century Cycle plays. These plays will be life-changing for

my students. They are open and ready due to the culturally relevant material I’ve already provided. The Residency will take them to the next level.” Barryte’s class of 11TH and 12TH graders “are so new to theatre, and I am trying hard to impress upon them the relationship of history to theatre and how theatre presents life situations and is an amazing vehicle of communication. I would really like these students to delve deeply into August Wilson’s work and to begin to understand themselves more through this process,” she said.

“Wilson provides us with living theatre examples of people in transition, of a society under threat, and of a nation in search for its collective identity,” explained

Copley, whose creative writing class is designed around advocacy. The Residency “stimulates our students’ belief in their dreams, by way of being adopted by a leading arts organization who will support and validate our mission and vision in the arts. ”

Ánimo Leadership Charter High School students. Teaching Artists (standing) and actors (seated behind them) brought Wilson’s words to life in one of the first Residency sessions.


Return to

Complete the Cycle

Eight years ago, our first group of Regional Finalists stepped onto the Taper stage to help carry on August Wilson’s legacy at Center Theatre Group. They, and the students who have followed in their footsteps, all in turn carry Wilson’s legacy with them as they move into the next chapter of their lives, and the next. Many of them are in school, studying everything from playwriting and film to political science and Africana studies. Others are working—in the arts, for social justice, for start-ups, and more. And some, of course, have become actors; they include Wayne Mackins-Harris (2015 Regional Finalist), who is currently appearing on Broadway in The Prom, Kara Royster (2012 Regional Finalist), who has appeared on TV shows including Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters, and Rhenzy Feliz (2016 Regional Finalist), who has a leading role on Marvel’s The Runaways series. Over and over again, the young people who participated in the program tell us how it changed their lives—helped them find their voices, gave them confidence they didn’t know they needed, opened their eyes to the power of theatre, and instilled Wilson’s words deep in their hearts and minds. They are eager to pay it forward, and to keep strengthening Wilson’s foothold with their generation, and so they have been a part of the journey to tonight— and tonight itself—as well. They are all employed by Center Theatre Group in a variety of capacities to support this year’s students and program.

“The August Wilson Monologue Competition isn’t one of those high school things you experience and forget. You become a part of a family and network of humans passionate about the human experience,” said Shan Shaikh (2014 Regional Finalist). “Coming back to help a new generation of ‘Wilsonian Soldiers’ feels like I’m still just doing my part.” Shaikh, a filmmaker, created one of tonight’s videos.

Jocelyn Lopez and Gerardo Navarro onstage as Regional Finalists, and checking in students at Orientation.

Jocelyn Lopez (2013 Regional Finalist), who recently started a job with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), has been with these students from the beginning, working on outreach as well as at Orientation, Preliminary Auditions, and Regional Semifinals. “I love being able to see the characters come to life through a younger lens and watch these young students dissect the plays/ monologues and make them their own,” she said. “It’s a pleasure to watch a young person grow before your eyes, starting with their first audition, and see how far they have come with refining their monologue at the Regional Finals. The biggest reward I gained from being a part of the competition was my confidence, and I am proud of any young person for having the courage to put themselves and their artistry out there.” The alumni get a unique opportunity to see the program from the other side. “I wish as a participant I had understood just how deeply those facilitating the audition day and the evaluators in the room want each individual to succeed,” said Katharine Means (2015 Regional Finalist), who took time away from studying for her BFA in CalArts to join us at Preliminary Auditions. “The idea of it being a competition made me as a participant anxious and reserved, but Center Theatre Group works so hard to make the environment a welcoming space.” Just a year after placing first in the National Finals in New York City, Gerardo Navarro (2018 Regional & National Finalist) also returned for both the Orientation and Preliminary Auditions. “The beauty of self-discovery and ensemble work that this program creates with students is incredible,” he said. “Seeing their confidence sprout and the support that they have for one another is inspiring. Listening to their stories, goals, and connections to their work has been awesome.” Our alumni hosts have also been involved in a number of events leading up to tonight. Playing a major role behind the scenes is Pablo Lopez (2013 National & Regional Finalist), who served as associate script writer. Lopez recently completed his undergraduate studies in Seattle and is planning to move back to Los Angeles soon. “I want to return home to reinvest in the communities that invested in me, and find new ways to grow in the city I was raised in,” he said. “Center Theatre Group invested in my growth as an actor and artist—and it was here that I dreamed of creating a body of original theatre, in my own poetry and song. I want to help Wilson’s poetry and song inspire young people to reach higher.” Shaila Essley (2015 Regional & National Finalist), who is currently pursuing her career in acting, was also involved in every round of auditions this year. “It’s like I’m looking into a rearview mirror because I remember all the pressure and nerves I felt,” she said. “On the other hand, it leaves me feeling so optimistic that the participants will undergo personal growth that will influence them throughout their lives.” For all of the alumni who participated this year and the many more who stay in touch with us, one sentiment prevails: “gratitude,” as E.J. Cabasal (2012 & 2013 Regional Finalist), who is now pursuing acting after graduating from UCLA, and also joined us at Preliminary Auditions, put it. “The whole experience assisting the program this year felt like a natural transition,” he said. “The August Wilson Monologue Competition will always have a place in my heart.”

(Top–Bottom) Shan Shaikh, Shaila Essley, Pablo Lopez, Katharine Means, and E.J. Cabasal in the Regional Finals.

Center Theatre Group’s College & Career Fair for the Arts

Join our Student Body list for invitations to events like this, access to specially priced tickets, and more at

High school students and their parents are invited to a totally free event to get ready for college and careers in the arts. SATURDAY, APRIL 6, 2019 9:30AM – 4PM CENTER THEATRE GROUP OFFICES AT THE MUSIC CENTER ANNEX 601 W TEMPLE ST LOS ANGELES, CA 90012




30 local colleges, universities, and organizations participating One-on-one college counseling & meetings with professional actors, playwrights, designers, and directors Workshops on theatre careers, college applications, and how to make a living


Workshop for parents on college financing


Free headshots!


Plus, lunch is on us

RSVP and learn more at

AUGUST WILSON PROGRAM FACULTY Center Theatre Group engages a team of accomplished theatre professionals to guide students through August Wilson’s work—and help them learn and grow in the process. Many of our faculty members are Teaching Artists who are both working artists and educators, allowing each vocation to inform the other, and giving students a chance to interact with and learn from professionals.


Jonathan P. Sims Teaching Artist

Jocelyn Lopez Outreach Specialist


Johnathon Jackson Teaching Artist

Ciera Payton Teaching Artist

Ryan Williams French Apprentice Teaching Artist

Lakisha May Apprentice Teaching Artist



Leslie K. Johnson

Hal Banfield

Director of Social Strategy, Innovation and Impact

Kathryn Mackenzie Director of Administration

Tyrone Davis Audience Engagement Director

Traci Kwon Arts Education Initiatives Director

Jesus Reyes Community Partnerships Director

Camille Schenkkan Next Generation Initiatives Director

Patricia Garza Line Producer, Special Artistic Projects Lead Videographer

Shan Shaikh Videographer

LaDarrion Williams Script Writer

Pablo Lopez Associate Script Writer

Kaitlyn Pietras Projection Designer

Alex Rafaelov Production Assistant

Jaquelyn Johnson Audience Engagement Manager

Sondra Mayer Concessions Manager (Kirk Douglas Theatre)

Adam Nicolai Arts Education Program Manager

Felipe M. Sanchez Emerging Artists and Arts Professionals Program Manager

Sarah Rothbard Program Book Editor

Deanna McClure Art and Design Director

Tara Nitz Art Director

Anne Marie Acosta Administrative Assistant

Debra Piver Resident Teaching Artist

Special thanks to Center Theatre Group Staff and the Mark Taper Forum House Staff and Crew.

Aleksej Aarsaether Temporary Internship Program Coordinator


Diana Buckhantz Chair

William H. Ahmanson Jonathan Axel Judith Beckmen Dannielle Campos Ramirez Gary Frischling Kiki Ramos Gindler Carrie Harlow Jody Lippman Louise Moriarty Jo Muse Edward B. Nahmias Michael Ritchie Monica Horan Rosenthal Laura Rosenwald Dr. Carmen Schaye Glenn A. Sonnenberg Eva Stern

Michaela Bulkley Temporary Career Fair Program Coordinator

Courtney Clark Temporary Program Assistant

Zaira Hernandez August Wilson Program Intern

Many photos used throughout tonight’s production were taken by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging and Ericka Kreutz.

Additional thanks to the following for their support of the August Wilson Program: Cecil Burroughs, DeJuan Christopher, Andrea Isadora Crocker, Estela Garcia, Alberto Isaac, Mildred Langford, Jully Lee, David Mack, Dwain Perry, Lamar Richardson, Jami Rudofsky, Beth Ryne, Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield, K. Lee Sherman, Ebony Wimbs, and Los Angeles City College

We want to recognize the efforts and achievements of all of the students who participated in the Preliminary and Semifinal Auditions. Find their faces on the back cover! Abraham Flores, Adam Vargas, Akwia Jefferson, Alan Diaz, Alaya Long, Amber Greene, America Gallardo, Amira Brown, Andrea Valencia, Anthony Cruz, April Smith, Ariana Bazile, Ava Salcido, Bianca Fuentes, Bonnie Li, Brayan Velez, Brianna Ureta, Brittany Fisheli, Bryson White, Camora Lampkin, Carissa Carlberg, Carlos Lope, Carmen Orozco, Chance Walker, Chrisianne Alfonso, Cindy Mejicanos, Cooper Miller, Daniel Cuasay, Delaila Portillo, Diana Molina, Dimple Banner, Edgar Perez, Ellie Schiff, Emery Genga, Esteban Vasquez, Esther Flores, Fletcher Jones, Genique Clark, George Escobar, Gerardo Jimenez Aguirre, Giselle Sanchez, Graciela Martinez, Hannah Gansert, Harmony Bell, Harrison Weil, Heaven Williams, Hilary Diaz, Irene Jones, Isaac Gonzalez, Iyana Scott, Jack Jenkins, Jackson Lewis, Jada Burns, Jade Moreno, Jean Lerma, Jeanette Rios, Jennifer Arias, Joelle Williams, John Agudelo, Johnnie Rodriguez, Jordan Patterson, Jose Urrutia, Joseph Ramos, Joshua Delman, Jude Prost, Juju Nieto, Kali Stone, Kalkidan Alemayehu, Karina Hunt, Karla Hernandez, Kayla Flores, Kevin Lopez, Kevonte Brown, Kimberly Contreras, Kyle Phillips, Leslie Aguilar, Leslie Cortez, Lexie Bondoc, Logan Soforenko, Madeline Glave, Makeda Neavill, Marc Pryor, Marina Rodriguez, Matthew Morton, McKenzie Franklin, Mia Molina, Mia Camarena, Miguel Torres, Mikayla Weissberg, Miko Alicia Mariscal, Milan Levy, Miracle Garren, Mitchell Calderilla, Monique Jaramillo, Nadine Aguirre, Nailah Shorter, Natalia Echeverria, Nataly De La Cruz, Nichole Gutierrez, Nicole Martinez, Quran Wade, Raina McRitchie, Raymond Bengson, Sady Fuentes, Saman Wright, Samyra Owens, Saul Richardson, Shelbe Zanders, Siobhan Harms, Sophia Labrador, Sophie Landau, Tilka Feroz, Toni Chaves, Tyla Uzoagbado, Valentina Argueta, Victor Rivas, William Ortiz, William Palma, Wyatt Freihon, Yasmin Farias, Yasuri Palma


Center Theatre Group is a nonprofit organization that relies on the generosity of a committed family of donors to produce and present theatre on all three of our stages, to support artists in developing new work, and to educate and engage audiences throughout our community. Tonight’s competition would not be possible without their generous support.






Pat Harvey

Pat Harvey has been co-anchor of CBS2’s 5, 6, and 11pm broadcasts since 2010. Previously, she spent 20 years with sister station KCAL 9 as one of the original anchors of the nation’s first nightly three-hour newscast. In recognition of her 20TH anniversary with KCAL and contributions to the people of Southern California, the Los Angeles City Council and L.A. County Board of Supervisors declared October 30, 2009, “Pat Harvey Day” by proclamation. The veteran newswoman has covered some of the biggest local news stories, political conventions, and presidential inaugurations, as well as international stories. She is the recipient of many awards and honors, including 22 Emmy Awards (three for best newscast), the Governor’s Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, induction into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame, and two lifetime achievement awards: the L.A. Press Club’s Joseph M. Quinn Award and the Golden Mike for Lifetime Achievement Award from the Radio & Television News Association.

Chic Street Man

Chic Street Man has performed at venues including the Paleo Festival, the Montreux and Bern Jazz Festivals in Switzerland, the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, and in Geneva. He composed the music and starred in Spunk Off-Broadway, in the World premiere of Touch the Names at Cleveland Play House, and in The Caucasian Chalk Circle at Berkeley Rep. He has also performed on stages around the country including Denver Center Theatre Center, McCarter Theatre, Seattle Rep, Arena Stage, the Goodman, and Seattle Rep.


Pablo Lopez

E.J. Cabasal, an alumnus and previous Regional Finalist of the August Wilson Monologue Competition, is excited to return and host this year’s Regional Finals. As a recent graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, he hopes to make his mark in a big way as a young up-and-coming actor.

Pablo Lopez has been producing, performing, and studying theatre in Los Angeles, CSSSA, Northern California, and most recently in Washington, at Cornish College of the Arts, for 10 years. As a student at Grand Arts High School, he was a two-time participant in the August Wilson Monologue Competition, inspired by the rhetorical power of August’s plays.



Profile for Center Theatre Group

2019 August Wilson Monologue Competition Los Angeles Regional Finals  

The 2019 August Wilson Monologue Competition Los Angeles Regional Finals, presented by the Center Theatre Group Affiliates, took place at th...

2019 August Wilson Monologue Competition Los Angeles Regional Finals  

The 2019 August Wilson Monologue Competition Los Angeles Regional Finals, presented by the Center Theatre Group Affiliates, took place at th...