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Center Theatre Group Names Regional Finalists for 2019 AWMC


Top Two Students Will Participate in National Finals on Broadway on May 6

Center Theatre Group has selected 12 local high school students to participate in the regional finals for the 2019 August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) to be held at the Mark Taper Forum on Monday, March 11, 2019.

This is the eighth consecutive year Center Theatre Group is hosting the Southern California component of the national monologue competition. The program is designed to inspire and educate Los Angeles youth using monologues from August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle,” a 10-play cycle that details the complexity of the African American experience in the 20th century.

Those selected to participate in the regional finals are Bene't Benton (Carson), Kyle Branch (Los Angeles), Samuel Caruana (Canyon Country), Tiffany DeBerry (Santa Clarita), Dejean Deterville (Palmdale), Mylah Eaton (Studio City), Jofre Paul Francisco (Los Angeles), Jada Henry (Los Angeles), Laila C. Stewart (West Covina), Vanessa Valencia (Los Angeles), Daniel Velez (Los Angeles) and Ryan Wade (Los Angeles). The students represent seven local high schools within Los Angeles County. Eaton and Velez also participated in the 2018 competition.

The students selected will receive training and rehearsal sessions provided by Center Theatre Group throughout January and February. The sessions will allow the students to refine their performances while gaining valuable acting techniques.

On March 11, the 12 regional finalists will perform their monologues at the Mark Taper Forum in front of an invited audience, including a panel of judges. The two top-performing students will earn an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for the chance to perform in the AWMC national finals; the third place student will serve as alternate. The national finals will take place on May 6 at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. As preparation for the national component of the competition, all three students will receive master classes to workshop their monologues, as well as scholarship awards.

The program kicked off this season with a preliminary audition that featured 133 students in 10th, 11th or 12th-grade from 31 different high schools in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties. Fifty-seven of those students advanced to a semi-final audition held at The Music Center Annex in December 2018 where the aforementioned 12 regional finalists were selected to move forward.

Center Theatre Group also offers an in-school residency as part of the larger August Wilson Program. The August Wilson In-School Residency is a semester-long program that provides Title 1 students with an in-depth study of the work of August Wilson. This year, classes from Animo Leadership Charter High School, Augustus Hawkins High School, Carson High School and Sonia Sotomayor Center for Arts and Sciences will take part in the residency. The students and teachers from the four classrooms selected will attend the AWMC Los Angeles Regional Finals as part of their residency experience, witnessing the power of theatre as their peers bring August Wilson’s characters to life.

AWMC is a national program presented by Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theaters and hosted in cities throughout the country, including Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, New Haven, New York, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Dallas and Greensboro, North Carolina. Each city runs its program differently and each experience is designed to provide intensive learning opportunities for high school students to study and practice the craft of acting through the work of August Wilson. The Southern California component of the August Wilson Monologue Competition is led by the Center Theatre Group Education and Community Partnerships Department. One of the most active theatre education programs in the country, Education and Community Partnerships reached roughly 22,000 students, teachers, patrons and community members throughout Southern California in the 2017-2018 season.

Funding for Center Theatre Group’s August Wilson Program is presented by the Center Theatre Group Affiliates. The August Wilson program also receives generous support from Center Theatre Group’s Corporate Circle, the Rosenthal Family Foundation and The Michael Shaw Jacobs Fund.

Center Theatre Group honors its long-standing relationship with August Wilson through its August Wilson Program, as well as through its continued production of Wilson’s work. Center Theatre Group has presented nine of Wilson’s plays, including two world premiere productions of his work. Most recently, Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” had a successful run at the Mark Taper Forum in the fall of 2016.

More information on Center Theatre Group’s August Wilson Monologue Competition can be found at

Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, which, under Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, programs seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2100-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.

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January 10, 2019