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Announcing the New “August Wilson Legacy Project,” a partnership between the August Wilson Estate, Goodman Theatre and Derrick Sanders

This reimagination of the famed August Wilson Monologue Competition will establish Chicago as a Wilson Hub, and invigorate the Pulitzer Prize Winner’s work for a new generation.

The classic, timeless, epic work of seminal American playwright August Wilson endures as a new partnership—the “August Wilson Legacy Project”—forms between the August Wilson Estate, Goodman Theatre and Derrick Sanders. In honor of her late husband and as Executive Director of August Wilson Legacy LLC, Constanza Romero-Wilson taps longtime Wilson collaborator Derrick Sanders/AW-Chicago and Willa J. Taylor/Walter Director of Education and Engagement at Goodman Theatre to reestablish and build on the success of the national August Wilson Monologue Competition and “Designing August” (the scenic and costume design arm of the competition) for a new generation. The new partnership roots the famed Monologue and Design Competitions in Chicago—the first city to have experienced all 10 of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s American Century Cycle plays produced by Goodman Theatre (where a critically acclaimed major revival of Gem of the Ocean directed by Chuck Smith appears on stage through Sunday, February 27).

Building on the robust partnerships with schools in Chicago, this new national collaboration will reinvigorate relationships with theaters across the country, creating educational and performance opportunities that allow students to connect to Wilson and his work through the study of history, social studies, and literature. As the “August Wilson Legacy Project” partnership gets underway, the 2022 August Wilson Monologue and Design Competitions now welcomes student applications (see competition timeline below); the Goodman will again host the 20 high school students appearing in the final round on May 2, 2022 at 6pm. The Competitions are presented by Sanders and the Goodman in collaboration with the League of Chicago Theatres; for details, visit

“I am thrilled that the August Wilson Monologue Competition will be reimagined by Goodman Theatre in partnership with Derrick Sanders of AW-Chicago. There is no other theater I would be more excited about leading the national competition. The Goodman supported August all throughout his career. I have full faith and trust that they will keep his legacy alive,” said Constanza Romero-Wilson.

“We are honored and excited to work with the Estate of August Wilson to reimagine and expand opportunities for students through the national competition, and to partner with theaters and organizations around the country to ensure that generations of young people will know the poetry of his language, the richness of his legacy, and the brilliance of this great American playwright,” said Walter Director of Education and Engagement Willa J. Taylor who, during her 15 seasons at the Goodman has created 14 new education and engagement programs—including Teaching August Wilson, which develops educators’ capacity to use Wilson’s American Century Cycle as a lens for American history.

“It’s my profound pleasure to help lead and reimagine the August Wilson Monologue Competition. Over the past 13 years, I’ve seen the powerful impact of August’s words on the self-esteem of thousands of students—and the inspiration of his legacy on teachers and theaters across the nation,” said award-winning director and filmmaker Derrick Sanders, Associate Director of the Drama Division at Juilliard and the producing director of Chicago’s August Wilson Monologue Competition, which has drawn nearly 4,000 students over the past 13 years.

August Wilson’s 10-play American Century Cycle is a singular achievement in the American theater. Goodman Theatre was first in the nation to produce every play—including two world-premiere productions—of the cycle, each one set in a different decade of the twentieth century, including: Gem of the Ocean (1900s), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1910s), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1920s), The Piano Lesson (1930s), Seven Guitars (1940s), Fences (1950s), Two Trains Running (1960s), Jitney (1970s), King Hedley II (1980s) and Radio Golf (1990s). At the plays’ core are lyrical monologues that take the song, laughter and pain of the African American experience and place it in the mouths of the most varied ensemble of characters written since Shakespeare.

In December 2020, Netflix released Giving Voice, a full-length documentary about the national August Wilson Monologue Competition and the importance and influence of Wilson’s work on the students. The inspirational film features footage of the Chicago Monologue Competition and Sanders, along with interviews of Viola Davis, Denzel Washington and Stephen Henderson; watch the film’s trailer.

2022 August Wilson Monologue and Design Competitions Timeline

The free August Wilson Monologue Competition gives Chicagoland youth an opportunity to explore and share the richness of Wilson’s American Century Cycle through master classes and offering college scholarships. The newest aspect of the competition—“Designing August,” focusing on scenic and design elements—returns for its second year. Program participants from around Chicago encounter Wilson’s ten-play cycle and receive coaching from teaching artists to prepare their monologues for competition.

  • March 4 Deadline for teachers and administrators to apply for their students
  • March 15 Individual student application deadline for acting and design
  • March 21 Deadline for final “Designing August” submissions
  • March 21-23 Preliminary Monologue Auditions (at Roosevelt University and Logan Center for the Arts)
  • April 18 Semi-Final Monologue Auditions (at Victory Gardens Theater)
  • April 23 Masterclass, coaching for finalists
  • May 2 Final Monologue and Design Competition (at Goodman Theatre, 6pm)

Meet the Team

August Wilson

Willa J. Taylor

Artist Placeholder Image

Derrick Sanders