August Wilson New Voices

August Wilson New Voices is a national competition that gives students across the country an opportunity to explore and share the richness of August Wilson’s Century Cycle. 7 cities from across the country have already partnered with us for the 2023 competition. The top 2 finalists from each regional contest will attend a finals weekend in Chicago that will include masterclasses and the national competition finals.


Now in its 13th year, the competition in Chicago serves over 300 students annually by holding the competition, leading masterclasses and offering college scholarships.

Derrick Sanders and The Goodman Theatre, in collaboration with The League of Chicago Theatres, are proud to partner in presenting August Wilson New Voices.

August Wilson New Voices is supported by funding from Allstate Insurance.

Logo for Allstate Insurance Company

Thank you to Roosevelt University & University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) for the generous donation of their space for the preliminary monologue auditions.


The Monologue Competition

Students will prepare and perform a 2-3 minute monologue of their choosing from 1 of the 10 plays in August Wilson’s Century Cycle. Participants 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.

Students must be currently enrolled in a high school in the Midwest (the Chicago competition in 2023 will be open to the entire Midwest region). Students may either compete as an individual or in a group with their school. In either case, all students will be adjudicated separately. The regional competitions are divided into numerous phases: preliminaries, semi-finals, and finals.

Only monologues provided by the competition organizers are approved for the competition. Students may not make changes to the chosen monologue, including:

  • Cuts or rearranging the text
  • Changing pronouns or names
  • Adding portions of text

Students are allowed to perform any monologue in the compendium regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender identity.

Students MAY submit to both the acting and design competitions.

You can download and review the full competition guide HERE.

If you need more information about this program, please email augustwilsoncompete@gmail.com.


“Designing August:” Design Competition

The August Wilson New Voices competition will include a competition for high school students for set and costume design. Students will choose a monologue from the August Wilson Compendium, and create a work of art such as a collage, assemblage, drawing or video inspired by the chosen text.

The student’s piece should tell a story based on the words of the monologue and the life philosophy of the character. The design must (a) incorporate 3 principles of design, (b) be easily transportable, and (c) have a written design statement.

Students MAY submit to both the acting and design competitions.

There will be 3 rounds for the design competition:

  1. Preliminaries: Submissions will be adjudicated online.
  2. Semi-finals: Students chosen for semi-finals will be required to present their design in-person or virtually.
  3. Finals: Design finalists’ work will be displayed at the finals at the Goodman Theatre and be adjudicated and announced that evening.

*Students chosen for the finals will be required to present their design in-person.

You can download and review the full design guidelines HERE.

If you need more information about this program, please email augustwilsoncompete@gmail.com.


Important Dates

  • Monday, February 8th – Friday, February 24th, 2023: Administrators will be able to register their students for the competition. [Check back here on February 8th for the link to register]
  • Monday, February 13th – Tuesday, February 28th, 2023: Individual students will be able to register for the competition. [Check back here on February 13th for the link to register]
  • Preliminaries (Monologue Competition): Monday, March 6th – Wednesday, March 8th, 2024 | Morning & Afternoon | Roosevelt University & University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC).
  • Preliminary Submissions Due (Design Competition:): Monday, March 6th, 2024. [Check back here on March 6th for the link to submit your materials]
  • Monday, March 20th, 2023: Semi-Finals | 11am – 3:30pm | Location TBD.
  • Saturday, March 25th, 2023: Masterclasses for Finalists | 11am – 4pm | Goodman Theatre | *Finalists must attend these masterclasses.
  • Monday, March 27th, 2023: Midwest Regional Finals | 6pm | Goodman Theatre.
  • Saturday, April 29th – Tuesday, May 2nd, 2023: National Finals | Time TBD | Goodman Theatre.

August Wilson Compendium

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


If you need more information about this program, please email augustwilsoncompete@gmail.com.