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MANHATTAN – The soaring, lyrical monologues of playwright August Wilson have been performed by some of the theatre world’s greatest actors. Now, talented high school students will get their chance to breathe new life into August Wilson’s monologues.As part of a national competition, three winners from each of the five preliminary rounds will go to the 2nd Annual NYC August Wilson Monologue Competition, presented by Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LeAp), on April 19, 2010 where students will perform two-to three-minute monologues of their choosing from one of August Wilson’s renowned works from his Century Cycle play to be judged by theater professionals. The students will compete to receive cash prizes and collections of plays.

RELATED: The Obamas See August Wilson Play In NYC

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Our honored guests and performers include Kenny Leon, director of Fences on Broadway and artistic director of True Colors Theatre Company; Terri White, OBIE Award winning actor who starred in Finian’s Rainbow, performed in Barnum and will be performing in Chicago on Broadway; and Yvette Ganier, OBIE Award winning actor who has worked with August Wilson on King Hedley II, Jitney, and The Gem of the Ocean and performed in The Miracle Worker on Broadway this year.

After the NYC competition, the three finalists will then advance to the National Competition against students from Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Chicago at August Wilson Theatre on Broadway on May 3, 2010. Contestants will be judged by a panel of Broadway and other theatre professionals.

Students will also attend a performance of August Wilson’s Fences on Broadway and meet with theater professionals who have worked with August Wilson.

This program has helped to introduce hundreds of students to one of America’s greatest playwrights with the hopes that August Wilson will live through our education system in the same manner and reverence as the works of William Shakespeare.

“The demands on the students were extremely high,” said a teacher involved in the program. “None of these students have ever learned such dense and lengthy monologues before. Students learned new vocabulary and literary devices through August Wilson’s style.”

RELATED: Race An Issue In August Wilson Play & In Its Production

One 11th-grade-student said, “I could go places as an artist that I didn’t know I could go before.”

LeAp is committed to improving the quality of public education through a hands-on, arts-based approach to teaching the academic curriculum. LeAp empowers students to reach their full potential.

Since 1977, LeAp’s programs in music, dance, theater and visual arts have served more than two million New York City public school students. LeAp provides in-school residencies, afterschool workshops, parent workshops, teacher trainings and assembly programs. Find out more at www.leapnyc.org.