Two Seniors Advance in August Wilson Monologue Competition

Daja Dansby, Staff Writer

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Two students,  seniors Jemima Oluwagbemiga and Nicole Iwueke advanced to finals in the August Wilson Monologue Competition at SMU, on Jan. 13.

“I’m not use to recognition for anything I do, so being able to have a chance to showcase my talents really gives me a boost of confidence,” Iwueke said.

Finals will be on Feb. 19.

“This is my first and last year doing it, so it’s great,” Oluwagbemiga said. “There were a lot of really good people there and it’s amazing that out of the 20 they picked, I was one of them.”

Wilson is a playwright who focuses on African American culture.

“The competition is about exposing students to the works of August Wilson,” director Samantha Dunaway said. “His plays are rarely done in high school settings because of the content but that doesn’t mean that they’re not valuable. (He) has some wonderful stories to tell that young people need to hear.”

This is the school’s first year to enter the competition.

“I found out about it from a friend of mine who teaches at Cedar Hill High School,” Dunaway said. “Last year I helped workshop a lot of her students and gave them feedback and helped train them for this specific competition (but) at that point it was too late for me to get all the official information, so we couldn’t enter anyone.”

Out of 120 students who entered the competition, 22 advanced to regionals and then compete for a chance to travel to New York, where Wilson will critique their monologues.

“(Advancing) would be amazing because I’ve never been to New York,”  Oluwagbemiga said. “I like getting critiqued and becoming better at the things that I do.”

The competition website addresses the importance of being able to connect with the character students choose to portray.

“Students entering this contest have finally found something that they can truly relate to in these characters and these stories,” Dunaway said.

Oluwagbemiga chose to do a monologue from Wilson’s play Seven.

“I’m not married, and I’ve never been cheated on, but when I read it I felt that anger,” she said. “I know that’s how I would have reacted if I were in the same situation because I’m a fiery person and I give my opinion.”

Malone chose to perform one of Black Mary’s monologues from Gem of the Ocean.

“(I relate to my character) in personality because she’s very strong but at the same time passive and we both hold back how we feel about certain things,” she said.

The students prepared for the competition by working with their directors.

“It was interesting going through it and thinking about different ways that I can portray her character and different ways that I can say things,” Oluwagbemiga said. “It’s been a journey.”

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