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in Association with

Goodman Theatre 





Monday, May 1, 2023


The Goodman Theatre 

170 N Dearborn Ave, Chicago, IL 60601

August Wilson’s Century Cycle is a singular achievement in American Theatre. Each of the ten world-class plays is set in a different decade of the Twentieth Century. At the core of each work are soaring, lyrical monologues that take the song, laughter, pain, and rich content of African American Life, and place it in the mouths of the greatest and most varied ensemble of characters written since Shakespeare. This monologue competition offers students of all ethnicities the opportunity to inhabit the lives and speak the words of these vital, lively characters. 



The competition is open to all students from Chicago Area High Schools. Students perform a two to three minute monologue taken from any of the plays in August Wilson’s Century Cycle before a panel of experienced judges.

Contestants will be judged on the basis of preparedness, understanding of the text, vocal delivery, characterization and emotional connection to the material.

The top three finalists will receive – $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively for Monologue Winners and $2,000, $1,000, and $500 scholarships respectively for Design Winners.


To receive information on how to participate in future August Wilson New Voices competitions, contact us here.



(Student listed in alphabetical order by last name)


Sophia Leverett


ChiArts (Chicago, IL)


Beza Mekonnen 


Boston, MA


Juan Popoca

Solly Two Kings, GEM OF THE OCEAN

Chicago, IL


Jazmin Rhodes


Chicago, IL


Javian Ortega Rodriguez

Sterling, RADIO GOLF

Pittsburgh, PA


Christopher Russell

Becker, JITNEY

Pittsburgh, PA


Jordyn Walker


Pittsburgh, PA


Seine Young


Boston, MA



(Student listed in alphabetical order by last name)


Michelle Lopez-Capistran

Chicago, IL


Devin Love

Chicago, IL


Mas’ud Manlyspain

Chicago, IL 


Mia Ruiz

Chicago, IL


Sima Pollack

Chicago, IL


Allstate Insurance Company
The Goodman Theatre
League of Chicago Theatres


August Wilson LLC

National Sponsor of August Wilson New Voices


Chicago Sponsor of August Wilson New Voices




League of Chicago Theatres (Chicago, IL)

Huntington Theatre (Boston, MA)

Bill Nunn Theatre Outreach Project (Pittsburgh, PA)



Derrick Sanders – National Competition Director

Charlique C. Rolle – Associate National Competition Director

Willa Taylor – National Education Director

Quenna L. Barrett – Associate National Education Director




Sydney Charles

Sydney Charles is an award-winning, Chicago-based, multidisciplinary artist. She has worked with many theatres in the Chicagoland area, which include, but are not limited to: Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Court Theatre, and Drury Lane. Regional credits include Studio Theatre in Washington DC. Television credits include South Side, The Chi, and Shameless. Her other work includes assistant director and dramaturg at Steppenwolf Theatre and associate director for 16th Street Theater and Red Tape Theatre. Sydney was also a co-creator and actor in the Tribeca Audio Official Selection and Webby nominated audio fiction, Lake Song.  She is a proud and active member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA and is represented by Stewart Talent. All additional credits and accolades can be viewed at


John Jelks

John can be seen in the fifth and final season of the hit NBC series, New Amsterdam in a recurring role. In theater, John starred on Broadway in the critically acclaimed play Sweat by Lynn Nottage, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 2007, John received a Tony Award nomination for “Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play” in August Wilson’s Radio Golf. Other stage credits include August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, Holler If Ya Hear Me and most recently, Birthday Candles, all performed on Broadway. Additional film and television credits include Night Comes On, Showtime’s On Becoming a God in Central Florida, Netflix’s The I-Land, HBO’s True Detective & Love Life, Paramount+’s The Good Fight & Blue Bloods and CBS’s East New York.


Ron OJ Parson

Ron OJ Parson hails from Buffalo, New York and is a graduate of the The University of Michigan’s professional theatre program. He is a resident artist at Court Theatre, former co-founder and artistic director of Onyx Theatre.

Recent Directing credits include Gem of the Ocean, by August Wilson, at Court Theatre,  Sunset Baby by Dominique Morisseau, Timeline Theatre, The Who & The What by Ayad Akhtar (Victory Gardens Theater); Seven Guitars by August Wilson, The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, and Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett (Court Theatre); Detroit 67 by Dominic Morisseau (Northlight Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (TimeLine Theatre, associate artist).

Other Chicagoland theatres Ron has worked with include Black Ensemble Theatre, eta, Congo Square Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre (associate artist), Victory Gardens, Teatro Vista (associate artist), Chicago Dramatists, Urban Theatre Company, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Theatre Company, and City Lit Theatre

Christian Helem – Technical Judge

Christian Helem is a multi-hyphenate theatre artist whose belief is that if it doesn’t scare him a little it isn’t worth doing. The imaginative, musical and complex calls to him. As a playwright he has written: “tofu chitlin’ burrito supreme” (Stage Left Theater), apostles (UIC), and he is currently working on his new play “chronic”. His directing credits include: “The Little Things” (Pegasus Theater) “The Project(s)” (Stage Left Theater), “Marcus; or the Secret of the Sweet” (Pride Arts), 21 Chump Street: The Musical (Counter Collective), a queer version of The Glass Menagerie, and assistant directing for “Middle Passage” and “A View From the Bridge”.  His acting credits include: Mr Franklin in Passing Strange, Matthias of Galilee in Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Doaker in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. He is the Competition Director of the Chicago August Wilson New Voices,  Associate Board Chair at Jackalope Theater, and a 500 hr registered Yoga Teacher.



Sydney Chatman

Sydney Chatman (Chicago, IL/Gary, IN) uses theater as her medium to conjure hope, justice, freedom and joy. Led by ancestral guidance and intergenerational wisdom, she directs, educates, produces, and writes work that heals her community. Ms. Chatman is a Golden & Ruth Harris Commision Award, Joyce Foundation Award, an African-American Arts Alliance Award and 3Arts Make a Wave winner. Her theater credits include New York fellowships with SDC (The Trip to Bountiful on Broadway starring Cicely Tyson) and Lincoln Center’s Director’s Lab, and the Goodman Theatre Maggio Directing Fellowship. Chicago theatre credits: Goodman Theatre, TimeLine Theatre Company, Court Theatre, Congo Square Theatre Company, and eta Creative Arts; Louisville: StageOne Family Theatre; Indiana: Indiana University Northwest. She’s created theatrical performances and collaborations with the MCA of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Hyde Park Jazz Festival/Back Alley Jazz, The Reva and David Logan Center, Court Theatre and Victory Gardens Theater.

In 2008 she founded The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit and created innovative programming called the A La Carte and the Tuxedo Junction. She is a featured artist in Black Theater is Black Life: An Oral History of Black Theater in Chicago 1997-2010. Sydney was a theater teacher for 20 years, at the U of C Charter School, where she wrote and directed countless plays rooted in social justice and empowerment for the youth. Her arts integration has made her a mainstay in the arts education community and a unique voice in creating stories for Black children. She is a champion for new work that seeks to support, challenge, empower, and build brave spaces for Black women and girls. 


Levi J. Wilkins

Born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago, Lighting Designer, Levi J. Wilkins has been a member of the Chicago Theater community since age 6. Studied Theatre and Production at Lincoln College in Lincoln, Illinois. Currently the lighting director at The Faith Community of St. Sabina. other past theater credits include A Raisin In The Sun with Indiana University Northwest, Day of Absence and What to Send Up When it Goes Down and How Blood Go with Congo Square Theater, White with Definition Theater, Ruined and Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Invictus Theater, The Mountaintopat Cardinal Stage Theater, Marie Antoinette and the Magical Negroes with The Story Theater, Is God Is with A Red Orchid Theater and Stew and London Road  with Shattered Globe Theater. Along with many other festival, concert and dance performance design credits. Levi is a 3 time 2022 Regional Broadway World nominee and a Jeff Award Nominee. For more info about Levi visit



Erin Arnella

Erin received an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of Texas at Austin.  She has performed in Professional theaters across the country as both an actor, singer and vocal coach.  Regional credits include Pittsburgh Public Theater, The Utah Shakespeare Festival, Marriott’s Lincolnshire Theatre, The Illinois Theatre Center, The Theatre Under the Stars (Houston), The 5th Avenue Theatre (Seattle) and The Utah Festival Opera.  Additionally, Erin has performed in her own Cabaret shows in New York City and Chicago.

As a vocal coach, Erin has worked at The Goodman, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Centerstage in Baltimore, The Huntington and Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, and was the voice coach for the premier of August Wilson’s final work, Radio Golf on Broadway.  Ms. Annarella has taught voice and speech and acting at the University of Texas at Austin, American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York, and most recently at Columbia College Chicago.  In addition to her work in theater, Erin is an E-RYT 500 senior yoga teacher registered through Yoga Alliance and has been practicing and teaching for over 20 years.