Timberline High School junior Analisa Allen scored a triumph February 28 at Seattle Repertory Theatre by taking regional first place in the 11th-annual National August Wilson Monologue Competition, thereby advancing to finals May 6 at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway in New York City. Allen will test her mettle against finalists from regional competitions in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Pittsburgh among others. Her drama teacher, Robin Tuckett, believes this to be the most sought-after monologue prize in the country, adding, “This is a big deal.”
Allen will be treated to Broadway show tickets and a workshop with Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun revival, 2014) of Atlanta’s True Colors Theatre Company, a cofounder of the event. The winner of the two-round finals receives a cash prize of $3,000, with further potential for college scholarships.
“There’s no room for dillydallying,” said Tuckett of the three-day trip to New York. “It’s 16-hour days.” She’s hoping to secure funds to join Allen there. Celebrity coaches for the event have included Viola Davis and Denzel Washington.
Long before his death in 2005, August Wilson was hailed as one of America’s greatest living playwrights. His 1985 drama Fences won the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for “Best Play.” The Piano Lesson (1990) was awarded a Pulitzer, and Jitney (1982) won the 2017 Tony Award for “Best Revival.”
Participants in Wilson’s namesake competition perform three-minute monologues from his oeuvre. Allen, a 2018 semifinalist, chose to play “Vera” from Seven Guitars, a 1995 play set in the 1940s. She’s “an archetype of broken women,” Allen explains, on “a very deep emotional journey of hurt.”
“I try not to be too technical with what I do,” Allen continues. “After you memorize it, you kinda just become the character. Your peripherals blur, and that’s who you are right now.”
National August Wilson Monologue Competition (final round)
August Wilson Theatre,
245 W. 52nd St., New York
7 p.m. Monday, May 6