[caption id="attachment_5524" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Finalists in the 2018 National August Monologue Competition meet Hailey Kilgore, star of Once on This Island[/caption] “As of tonight, you are all Wilsonian soldiers.” This was the rallying cry of Kenny Leon, Artistic Director of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company. He was speaking to 24 high-school students from all over the country who had gathered to perform Wilson’s monologues at the tenth annual August Wilson Monologue Competition, a program which Leon co-founded. He and the students stood in front of an eager audience of parents, students, educators, and artists at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. “I want you all to go back to your schools and demand that August Wilson’s plays be in your libraries and on your stages.” The audience erupted in applause at Leon’s words. The 2017 – 2018 academic year was New Haven’s first foray into this competition. Co-produced by Long Wharf and Yale Repertory Theatres, New Haven’s chapter of the August Wilson Monologue Competition brought teaching artists into four local schools: Cooperative Arts & Humanities, Wilbur Cross, Regional Center for the Arts, and Educational Center for the Arts. Dozens of students were exposed to Wilson’s work for the first time as they read and performed monologues from Wilson’s American Century Cycle. Lauren Dardyn and Chloé Lomax-Blackwell (left), both students at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, took first and second place (respectively) in New Haven’s regional competition. They spent a weekend in New York City with finalists from eleven other regions. Together, this group saw two Broadway plays, attended master classes and talkbacks with professional actors, and competed for the National title. The first, second, and third place winners received cash prizes while all 24 participants received a boxed set of Wilson’s American Century Cycle. “Congratulations on making your Broadway debuts,” Leon concluded. Our staff could not be more proud of Lauren, Chloé, and all of the students who engaged with the program this year. If you are a student or educator interested in participating in the August Wilson Monologue Competition, please contact Madelyn Newman at madelyn.newman@longwharf.org or 203.772.8272.   -Eliza Orleans