2019 August Wilson Monologue top spots go to Pittsburgh CAPA students
Eleven high school students from five different schools shared the stage at the Bill Nunn Black Box Theatre on March 4 in the finals of Pittsburgh’s 11th annual August Wilson Monologue Competition.
One of the 11, nearing the end of a lively, imaginative performance from “Fences” of Troy Maxson’s comic tale about the devil in the form of a loan shark, forgot a line and froze. The other competitors and the audience shouted encouragement. After all the monologues were complete, KDKA-TV’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland, one of the judges, told her that even pros suffer stage fright. She then redelivered her monologue and finished to great applause, especially from her fellow competitors.
It was that kind of night: long on mutual support and good feelings, in part because it was all in honor of Pittsburgh playwriting great August Wilson (1945-2005) and actor-mentor Bill Nunn III (1952-2016), both of whom were mentors to theatrical novices.
But it was also a competition, and when the passion and laughter occasioned by the monologues had subsided, the six judges announced three winners — all from Pittsburgh CAPA:
First place: Jay Chapman, a senior, playing Youngblood from “Jitney.”
Second place: Amani Howze, a junior, playing Mattie Campbell from “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.”
Third place: Jhordan Price, a sophomore, playing the title role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Mr. Chapman and Ms. Howze will represent Pittsburgh — which gave the world August Wilson and inspired his award-winning plays — in the national finals at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre on May 6. Ms. Price is the alternate. The three won cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100 and scholarships to Point Park University of $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000.