Pittsburgh teen, DeVaughn Robinson, places third in national August Wilson Monologue Contest

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DeVaughn Robinson, a freshman at Winchester Thurston High School in Pittsburgh, came in third in the national August Wilson Monologue Contest finals Monday night at Broadway's August Wilson Theater in New York City.

He delivered the same speech by Sterling from "Radio Golf" that wowed the judges in the regional contest in Pittsburgh

The winner was Johari Mackey from Chicago, who delivered a speech by Berneice from "The Piano Lesson," and second place went to Aubrey Taylor from Seattle, who did a speech by the title character in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

On return to Pittsburgh yesterday, DeVaughan, 15, said of being among the winners: "I felt shock more than anything. I totally wasn't expecting to win anything. I was up there to take in the experience."

His prizes include a partial scholarship to Point Park University, the complete works of August Wilson, $250 and a plaque.

He had to hold his own in a field of 18 finalists, three coming from each city entered in this year's contest -- Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York and Seattle, in addition to Pittsburgh. He was the only freshman in the group, which comprised students of African-American, Caucasian and Asian backgrounds.

This third national contest "was the most competitive and the most culturally diverse -- it was a great evening," said contest organizer Kenny Leon of Atlanta's True Colors Theatre Company, Mr. Wilson's most recent Broadway director.

A starry panel of judges included Maurice Hines, Pauletta Washington (wife of Denzel Washington who just played Mr. Wilson's Troy Maxson on Broadway), Katori Hall, Homestead native Tamara Tunie ("Law & Order: SVU") and Sharif Atkins ("White Collar").

Additional entertainment was provided by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Brenda Pressley and Albert Jones, who performed a montage called "Impulse to Song," drawn from the 10 plays in Mr. Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle by his long-time associate, Pittsburgher Todd Kreidler. There was also a musical performance by Guy Davis.

Pittsburgh's other two finalists were Heaven Bobo from West Mifflin High School and Emily Kolb from Pittsburgh CAPA. All 18 students spent some time hearing about Mr. Wilson and his work from Mr. Leon and Mr. Kreidler, and they also talked with his widow, Constanza Romero.

They went to an exhibit of the work of Romare Bearden, an important influence on Mr. Wilson, and they saw "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and met its star, Daniel Radcliffe. They even had breakfast at Mr. Wilson's regular Broadway hangout, the coffee shop of the Edison Hotel.

Senior theater critic Christopher Rawson: crawson@post-gazette.com .


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