Oscar Garza Topete
For a chance at winning an all-expense paid trip to New York along with $500, junior Oscar Garza Topete will perform in the final round of the August Wilson Monologue Competition tomorrow at SMU.
“Oscar is a hard worker and he really dives into each character he’s been given,” theatre teacher Samantha Dunaway said. “When he found Toledo he saw the humor in it and played to his strengths. As he evolved with rehearsal, he really found his strength and connected it with the character.
Garza Topete advanced to the finals with his comedic portrayal of Toledo from Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
“I learned that you can learn from anything,” he said. “Every life experience has a lesson and everything you go through has a reasoning behind it. My character gets cheated on and loses the love of his life in this play and obviously that’s supposed to be dramatic, but you can twist situations and turn them to your own benefit and make them good rather than bad.”
Junior Brittany Fadipe said it was Garza Topete’s authenticity that led to him becoming a finalist.
“His performance was outstanding,” she said. “(With) the monologue he chose, he was supposed to act more aggressive, but Oscar just decided to be himself. He’s very funny and made the audience, even the judges, laugh.
Students from all over the state competed in the first round of the contest but only 20 advanced.
“I did not think I was going to advance so I went into it and said that I’m here for the experience, to learn, to watch other people and learn from what they do and see how I can better myself for the next performance,” he said. “But the audience ended up loving my monologue. I got a very positive reaction and that led to me advancing.
To prepare for the first round, Garza Topete said he sought help from his friends.
“August Wilson Monologue Competition is about portraying black characters,” he said. “it’s written by a black playwright and I’m not a black person so trying to get into the mindset of what they would be like, especially in that time period, was challenging for me.”
Fadipe and Garza Topete rehearsed together for the competition.
“It was really good and helpful to work together,” she said. “We are all talented in different areas and learned from each others’ performances. We all critiqued each other which really helped.”
Dunaway said that even though Garza wasn’t African American, he understood that main objective of the character.
“He found truth and was able to connect that truth and believably portray it to an audience,” she said. “When the audience watched his performance, they felt that they believed every word that he said.”
Tomorrow, Garza Topete will perform the same monologue in front of a panel of five to six judges from across the state.
“My biggest hope is to advance to the national level and compete in New York,” Garza Topete said. “I am very grateful and humbled to have been given the opportunity to perform in the finals but the dream is to advance to the national level, get to the workshop in NY and experience the city life there.”