Three local high school students advance to ‘August Wilson’ finale

Top two students will participate in national finals on Broadway on May 4

OW Staff Writer | 3/5/2020, midnight
Center Theatre Group has named Kyle Branch..

Center Theatre Group has named Kyle Branch, Tyla Uzo and Fletcher Jones as the top performers of the August Wilson Monologue Competition (AWMC) Regional Finals held at the Mark Taper Forum Feb. 25. Branch and Uzo will go on to represent Los Angeles in the national finals on May 4,. Jones will serve as the Los Angeles alternate.

Branch, of Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, placed first in the regional competition, earning a $500 scholarship; Uzo of Ramón C. Cortines High School of Visual and Performing Arts took second place with a $400 scholarship; and Jones of Ramón C. Cortines High School of Visual and Performing Arts took third place and a $300 scholarship.

Both Branch and Uzo will also receive a paid trip to New York City to perform on the stage of the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. They will compete in a semi-final round with 28 other students from cities around the country. Fifteen of those students will be selected for the national finals while the other 13 will be part of a performance montage.

This is the ninth consecutive year that Center Theatre Group hosted the Southern California component of the national monologue competition. The program is designed to inspire and educate Los Angeles youth using monologues from August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle,” a 10-play cycle that details the complexity of the African-American experience in the 20th century.

Branch, Uzo and Jones were selected from a pool of 12 regional finalists representing nine high schools within Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties. As preparation for the national component of the competition, the three students will receive master classes to workshop their monologues.

AWMC kicked off this season with a preliminary audition that featured 122 students in 10th, 11th or 12th-grade from 30 different high schools in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Fifty-four of those students advanced to a semi-final audition held at The Music Center Annex in December 2019 where the aforementioned 12 regional finalists were selected to move forward.

Center Theatre Group also offers an in-school residency as part of the larger August Wilson Program. The August Wilson In-School Residency is a semester-long program that provides Title 1 students with an in-depth study of the work of August Wilson. This year, classes from Ánimo Leadership Charter High School, Carson High School and Roybal Learning Center are taking part in the residency. The students and teachers from each school attended the AWMC Los Angeles Regional Finals as part of their residency experience, witnessing the power of theatre as their peers brought August Wilson’s characters to life.

More information on Center Theatre Group’s August Wilson Monologue Competition visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org/AugustWilson.