Students interpret Wilson, Shakespeare in monologue contests


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The August Wilson Monologue Competition and the Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest announced their winners Monday night.

In the regional finals of the fifth annual August Wilson Monologue Competition, held at the August Wilson Center, Downtown, first prize of $500 and a $10,000 scholarship in the acting program at Point Park University went to Themb'isile Gxuluwe, a student at West Mifflin Area High School, who performed Tonya's passionate wail, "I'm through with babies," from "King Hedley II."

Coming in second ($250, $7,000) was Tamiya Martin, a Pittsburgh CAPA High School student who performed another selection from Tonya's same prose aria. Third place went to Shamari Nevers ($100, $5,000), a student in the Pittsburgh Online Academy, who did Caesar Wilkes' tirade on social chaos from "Gem of the Ocean."

Local winners will compete with winners of seven other regional competitions in New York City May 5-6 in the national finals at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. They were chosen from 24 students in the Pittsburgh finals, presented by the Bill Nunn Theatre Outreach Project and assisted by Point Park's John Amplas. Emcee was Kim Ellis, and the judges were actor-playwright Kim El, KDKA-TV's Lynne Hayes-Freeland, actor Tommy LaFitte, Post-Gazette senior theater critic Chris Rawson and actor Montae Russell.

Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest

Maggie Brooks of Baldwin High School and DeVaughn Robinson of Woodland Hills tied for the monologists' win in the Pittsburgh Public Theater's 19th annual Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest. After a weeklong competition that culminated in Monday's showcase, Maggie (performing "The Jailer's Daughter" from "The Two Noble Kinsmen") and DeVaughn ("Hamlet") were announced as the Upper Division winners. As a winner in the local August Wilson Monologue contest in 2011, DeVaughn went on to take third place in the national contest.

"Somehow, despite the holiday season and March school achievement tests, we had our biggest turnout yet -- close to 1,200 participants," said Rob Zellers, Public Theater's education director. "Not only that, the quality of the performances was higher than ever. In addition to the 25 finalists there were many, many fine performances turned in by students of both age groups. The showcase on Monday night put the full range of Shakespeare on display -- comedies, tragedies, history plays and an ambitious sixth-grade girl from CAPA portraying Sir John Falstaff!"

Other Shakespeare contest winners were:

Lower Division Scene --Tanner Schmitt, Joey Belanger, Ryan Showalter of Highcliff Elementary School (2nd Merchant, Antipholus, Angelo from "The Comedy of Errors"). Lower Division Monologue -- Julia Coblin, CAPA (Sir John Falstaff from "The Merry Wives of Windsor"). Upper Division Scene -- J.D. Galloway, Zack Bowman of Trinity Christian School (Dromio, Antipholus from "The Comedy of Errors").

WTAE-TV's Sally Wiggin was the emcee. The judges were actor, educator and philanthropist Richard Rauh; actress Amy Landis; actress and Carnegie Mellon University professor Ingrid Sonnichsen; actor, director and Point Park University professor John Shepard; and Ted Pappas, the Public's producing artistic director. Participants received a T-shirt and two tickets to a Public Theater production.

theater

Senior theater critic Christopher Rawson: 412-216-1944. Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960. First Published March 27, 2013 4:00 AM


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