August Wilson Monologue Competion

August Wilson Monologue Competition

We are excited to announce that we are the new hosts for the August Wilson Monologue Competition here in the state of Oregon.

Welcome, August Wilson Monologue Competition students! Whether this is your first experience with August Wilson, or you're already familiar with the playwright and his groundbreaking work, there's always more to learn about Wilson's life, process, influences, and place in theatre history.

Follow the resource guide to discover the artists who shaped Wilson's voice, how Wilson created his one-of-a-kind characters, what critics think of his plays and more! But before you delve into Wilson's work you probably want to know what to expect.  

The Plays

Gem Of The Ocean


August Wilson's Century Cycle begins in 1904, where we meet Citizen Barlow, a bewildered newcomer to Pittsburgh from the agrarian deep South. Citizen Barlow arrives at Aunt Ester's house seeking her help and a safe place from Caesar, the local constable. Aunt Ester, now 285 years old, takes him on a journey of self-discovery to the City of Bones, a city in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Here he makes startling discoveries and his sense of duty leads to his redemption.

Joe Turner's
Come and Gone


Set in 1917. The story of Harold Loomis, who returns to Pittsburgh in search of his wife.
He is haunted by the memory of bounty hunter Joe Turner, the man who had illegally enslaved him. Loomis is unable to fully embrace or release the past. His search brings him to Seth and Bertha's boarding house with his young daughter, Zonia, where "conjure man" Bynum shows him that he really is searching for himself.

Ma Rainey's
Black Bottom


Set in a Chicago recording studio in early March 1927. Female blues singer Ma Rainey lives and works under the pressure of a music business that abuses and victimizes its black artists.

The Piano Lesson


The Piano Lesson is set in Pittsburgh in 1936. Boy Willie has come to his uncle's house to retrieve a piano that holds significant historical and sentimental value to the family. A battle ensues over the possession of the piano, which carries the legacy and opportunities of the characters and determines the choices they must make.

Seven Guitars


Seven Guitars brings a post-war Pittsburgh and us into the world of the 1940s. We sort through the plight of the Black American men who fought and died in World War II, who now return home to find they must confront the same inequities they'd faced before they left. Blues singer Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton returns from a 90-day stretch in the county jail with a recording contract in his pocket and a plan to take his woman and his band to Chicago. Buoyed by the heroics of the great black boxer Joe Louis, Floyd is sure the world is finally ripe for black heroes. But the backyard that serves as his office, social club and romantic getaway seems haunted; and his eccentric neighbor, Hedley, who teeters between wisdom and madness, is destined to bring Floyd's dreams of success to an end.

Fences


Troy Maxson is a garbage collector who prides himself on his ability to provide for his family and keep it together. He is the patriarch and central character in Fences (1950-1965). He continually places barriers between himself and the very people he loves the most. Troy's rebellion and frustration set the tone for this play as he struggles for a sense of fairness in a society that offers none. He and his son clash over their conflicting views of what it means to be a black man in mid-century America.

Two Trains Running


Two Trains Running examines the possibilities of securing the American dream in a 1960s northern urban ghetto. Memphis Lee, his neighbors and his restaurant's patrons stand on the precipice of urban renewal. They consider the prospects for surviving this change with their history and cultural identity in tact as the existence of their community is in jeopardy. Sterling, a young, politicized ex-con, has just been released from prison and insists on righting an injustice committed years earlier; a man not rewarded with what was promised him after completing a job.

Jitney


The 1970s are the background for Jitney. In this story, Pittsburgh's gypsy cab drivers fight to save their business and retain their livelihood and are pitted again against a world that wants to tear down the inner city for redevelopment. Becker, a well-respected man in his sixties is reunited with his son Booster, after Booster's release from jail. A difficult relationship between father and son again points out how each generation confronts the world in his own way rather than building on the struggles of those who came before him.

King Hedley II


King Hedley II takes place in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1985. In the backyard of a neighborhood now completely blasted by decay and urban blight, King Hedley II, with a warrior spirit but no education or prospects, daydreams with his friend Mister about opening a Kung Fu video rental store using the money they make selling stolen refrigerators. Aunt Ester has died, the Hill District is without commercial or spiritual resources, and King's dreams are doomed to a violent end in Wilson's darkest and most symbolic play.

Radio Golf


Radio Golf, August Wilson's last play, is also the last play chronologically in his famous Pittsburgh Cycle. In the play we find Harmond Wilks, a man who discovers both himself and the place that birthed him at a crossroads. On the verge of an almost-guaranteed win as a mayoral candidate, Wilks finds his identity shaken when his morals and ideals are questioned by those around him. Ultimately, he must recognize what the price of his success is and decide if he is willing to pay it.