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August Wilson Monologue Competition Finalists Take Broadway

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Alexander Villaseñor and Aryana Williams.

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Alexander Villaseñor and Aryana Williams outside the August Wilson Theatre.

Congratulations to Aryana Williams and Alexander Villaseñor on terrific performances in the ninth annual National August Wilson Monologue Competition on May 1, 2017 at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. Their performances marked the end of a long and fulfilling journey into Wilson’s work; both Williams and Villaseñor had participated in the Competition as underclassmen and advanced to both the Regional Finals at the Mark Taper Forum and the National Finals in New York for the first time as high school seniors.

Williams and Villaseñor spent a whirlwind weekend in New York City alongside regional finalists from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Portland, and Seattle. The group saw Groundhog Day and Sweat on Broadway and participated in a talkback with cast members after Sweat. They also toured Jazz at Lincoln Center, met some of August Wilson's collaborators, and got to spend some time seeing the New York City sights. The experience culminated in performing their monologues at the August Wilson Theatre on Monday evening, followed by a post-performance bowling party.

Despite the fact that Williams and Villaseñor were both making their first trip to New York, the highlights of the experience for both were not being tourists but being a part of the August Wilson Monologue Competition.

The best part of this trip was the people, said Williams of her fellow student performers. Every single person from each city had a warmth and a light to them, and when we came together, we shined brighter than the whole city. The genuine love that was felt from each and every person was irreplaceable.

Villaseñor said that for him, the most important part of the weekend was his own performance. My highlight of the trip was being able, as a performer and person, to ‘just let go.’ By letting go I was able to bring a natural side of me to my performance, he said. My experience performing on the August Wilson Theatre stage was just amazing. I was able to grow as an actor…I understood that I needed to stop ‘acting’ and just ‘be.’ (He did mention that the other highlight was the food: New York City had the best food I’ve had in a long time!)

Every single person from each city had a warmth and a light to them, and when we came together, we shined brighter than the whole city.

Williams agreed that the experience of being on Broadway was unbelievable. She explained, I continuously tried to conceptualize what it meant for me to be onstage, but it is still bigger than words. After I performed, I felt comforted, as if I belonged exactly where I was.

As they head toward high school graduation and beyond, both students will carry their August Wilson Monologue Competition journeys with them.

I want to invest more into kids of color and show them that there is a beginning of a path that has already been started for them. All they have to do is contribute their stories, said Williams, who is heading to Howard University.

The August Wilson Monologue Competition has helped me in so many ways! said Villaseñor. I'm super excited for the future and what it has in store for me. Thank you August Wilson!

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