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 Sarah Rodrigues, Ryan Lewis and Alexis Cannard. Photo by Carlos Gustavo Monroy.
August Wilson Red Door Project
Published: 01 June 2017

Earlier this month, the August Wilson Red Door Project announced that Roosevelt High School Senior Alexis Cannard brought home the 3rd place prize at the national August Wilson Monologue Competition National Finals at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway.

Alexis wowed the judges with a monologue from August Wilson’s play King Hedley II as the character “Ruby,” the same monologue that awarded her 1st place in the Portland Regional Finals this past February. Fellow Portland Regional Finalist Jazanna-Marie Riddlesprigger also brought her no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is performance of the character “Berniece” from The Piano Lesson. These two students put our city on the map, putting us on par with heavy-hitting cities such as New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and beyond.

New York City’s Sarah Rodrigues took 1st place in the finals performing as “Rose” from Fences, and 2nd place was awarded to Ryan Lewis of Atlanta, who portrayed “Memphis” from the play Two Trains Running.

In addition to her title, Alexis took home a $1000 cash prize, and all participating students received the American Century Cycle collection of plays and a copy of Samuel French’s new publication: Dangerous Music: The American Century Cycle Monologues.

Tony-award winning director and Founder of the August Wilson Monologue Competition, Kenny Leon, was the emcee of the evening and led the audience in rounds of “August Wilson Trivia,” reading portions of his monologues out loud while audience members tested their knowledge of Wilson’s plays and characters. His co-host, and a friend of the Red Door Project, Russell Hornsby, announced students’ names throughout the night and added his own fun and flair to the evening. Special guest, only son of stage and screen stars Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Blues singer and storyteller, Guy Davis performed several songs as judges deliberated, and a special tribute was given to legendary actor and Wilsonian Solider Bill Nunn, who passed away late last year in Pittsburgh, PA.

The star-studded panel of judges included Jitney actor Brandon J. Dirden, Obie Award and Lortel Award winner Roslyn Ruff, Broadway actor, playwright and director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Tony Award and Obie Award winning set designer David Gallo, and BET Humanitarian Award winner Pauletta Washington, wife of Denzel Washington.

August Wilson is more famous than ever with the new film version of his play Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and with the Tony Award nomination for Best Revival for his play Jitney.

In our third year of participation, Portland’s two Regional Finalists join nine other cities: New York City, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Dallas, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Next year, the program will expand to another three cities, making for a total of twelve participating cities in the National August Wilson Monologue Competition.

For more information: Visit http://www.RedDoorProject.org/AWMC.

About the National August Wilson Monologue Competition

The August Wilson Monologue Competition was founded in 2007 by Kenny Leon and Todd Kreidler at True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta. The national program, based on successful Shakespeare youth monologue competitions, is produced in collaboration between True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theaters and is now in 10 cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Portland, San Antonio, and Dallas. Funding for the national August Wilson Monologue Competition comes from Delta Air Lines, Bank of America, Macy’s, Publix Supermarket Charities, Massey Charitable Trust and The Imlay Foundation. Major supporters of the 2016-2017 Portland August Wilson Monologue Competition are: Ronni Lacroute, Priscilla and Dan Wieden, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, and The Collins Foundation. 2016-2017 Partners include Self-Enhancement, Inc. (SEI), Portland State University, Roosevelt High School and Portland’5 Centers for the Arts.

The August Wilson Red Door Project changes the racial ecology of Portland through the arts.

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