Student raconteurs breathed new life into the soaring, lyrical works of one of America’s greatest playwrights when the Brooklyn Theatre Arts High School hosted a contest based on the monologues of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson.
The aspiring orators performed a brief selection from Wilson’s renowned works from his “Century Cycle” plays during the preliminary round of the second annual national contest presented by Learning through an Expanded Arts Program. The initiative introduces youngsters to programs in music, dance, theater and visual arts through in-school residences, after-school workshops and assembly programs.
“None of these students have ever learned such dense and lengthy monologues before,” said 11th grade teacher Danielle Duffy, one of whose young charges said, “I could go to places as an artist that I didn’t know I could go before.”
The competition was judged by freelance indie theater producer Katherine Heberling; Marisol Rosa-Shapiro, director, producer and creative assistant at Jujamcyn Theaters; and Michael Perreca, director of External Relations for off-Broadway productions.
The three winners, Adama Jackson, Shaquille Mortly and Alberto Aguilar, and alternate Jared Findlay, will lock vocal chords at the New York City competition, April 19, where they will compete with their inter-borough peers for cash prizes and a collection of plays.
Finalists from that round will compete against students from Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Chicago at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre, May 3, and also attend a performance of Wilson’s “Fences.”
Wilson rocketed to the forefront of the American theatre scene in 1984 with the success of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” produced at Yale and later in New York.
The school is located on Flatlands Avenue, between Glenwood Road and East 76th Street.