August Wilson Monologue Competition

Goodman Theatre and Derrick Sanders, in collaboration with the Department of Performing Arts at The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the League of Chicago Theatres, and True Colors Theatre Company are proud to partner in presenting Chicago's August Wilson Monologue Competition.

Open to Chicago area high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, the competition gives students an opportunity to explore and share the richness of August Wilson’s Century Cycle.

2018 Chicago Finals

(Pictured left to right: Nia Sarfo, Chisom Chima, and Evan Simpson)

Congratulations to all the 2018 finalists! The 2018 Chicago Finals of the 9th Annual August Wilson Monologue Competition were held on Monday, February 26, 2018 at the Broadway Playhouse. Nia Sarfo of Chicago High School for the Performing Arts placed first, Chisom Chima of Nicholas Senn High School placed second, and Evan Simpson of Chicago High School for the Performing Arts placed third.

The top two winning students will receive expenses paid to travel to New York City for the National Finals, where they will compete on May 7, 2018.

More than 600 students from across the city participated in the preliminary rounds. The judges throughout all qualifying rounds included: Alana Arenas, E. Faye Butler, Veronda Carey, Sydney Chatman, Shanèsia Davis, Wendell Etherly, Allen Gilmore, Anthony Irons, Daniel Kyri Madison, Derrick Sanders, Regina Taylor and Willa Taylor. The 21 competitors in the Chicago Finals included students from Nicholas Senn High School, Wendell Phillips Academy, Chicago High School for the Performing Arts, the Advanced Arts Program at Gallery 37, Lincoln Park High School, Southland College Prep, Simeon Career Academy High School and Perspectives Charter School.

The three Chicago finalists received cash scholarships and the first and second place winners will receive an all-expense paid trip to New York to compete in the finals. The winner of the Chicago finals is also awarded a partial scholarship to attend the University of Illinois Chicago's School of Theatre and Music. The top two finalists will receive additional coaching before competing in the national competition in New York, where they will participate in a weekend of activities around the competition and national prizes including monetary awards and scholarship opportunities.

In six of the eight years, Chicago has had a student place in the top three national finalists.

2018 Dates

Preliminary Auditions
Monday, February 5th | Victory Gardens Theater
Tuesday, February 6th | Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
Wednesday, February 7th | Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts

Wednesday, February 14th | Goodman Theatre

Monday, February 26th | 6:00pm | Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place

National Finals
Monday, May 7th | 7:00pm | August Wilson Theatre, NY

For more info, click here.

About the Competition

To be considered, students must complete the application form and register for a time during the preliminary round. Students are asked to perform a 2-3 minute monologue of their choosing from one of the ten plays in August Wilson's Century Cycle.

They are adjudicated by a panel of Chicago theatre professionals on the basis of preparedness, understanding of the text, emotional connection to the material, and commitment to the performance.

The top three participants in Chicago receive $500, $250, and $100 scholarships, respectively, and the top two participants receive the opportunity to compete in the national finals in New York City.

2019 Application

More information about the 2019 Chicago AWMC application process will be announced at a later date.

August Wilson Compendium

1 - Gem of the Ocean
2 - Joe Turner's Come and Gone
3 - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
4 - The Piano Lesson
5 - Seven Guitars
6 - Fences
7 - Two Trains Running
8 - Jitney
9 - King Hedley II
10 - Radio Golf


About the Century Cycle

August Wilson’s Century Cycle is a singular achievement in American theatre. Each of the ten world-class plays is set in a different decade of the twentieth century. At the plays’ core are soaring, lyrical monologues that take the rich song, laughter, and pain of the African American experience and place it in the mouths of the most varied ensemble of characters written since Shakespeare. The plays of the Century Cycle are:

Gem of the Ocean
Joe Turner's Come and Gone
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
The Piano Lesson
Seven Guitars
Two Trains Running
King Hedley II
Radio Golf

For more about the Century Cycle, click here. For more information about this competition, please email

The August Wilson Monologue Competition is sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company.