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Next Stop: Broadway!

posted: 04/07/2015

By Eseosa Azenabor

Congratulations are in order for the Pittsburgh regional winners of the August Wilson Monologue Competition! On February 23rd, students from the Greater Pittsburgh area gathered to bring the words of August Wilson alive. Of these contestants, Sundiata El Rice placed first, Alona Williams came in second place, and Elexa Hanner in third. These three winners will advance to the national finals and compete against students from across the United States at the August Wilson Theatre on Monday, May 4th at 7:00 p.m. 

The event is free and open to the public. Check out the event evite here:  NationalAWMC.Evite_.Final_.pdf

For a complete list of winners in all 8 regional competitions visit: https://www.facebook.com/AWMCNationals.

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 




 



 




Pittsburgh Monolgue Competition Winners (left to right): Alona Williams, Elexa Hanner, Sundiata El Rice

Documentary Watch Party Locations

posted: 02/16/2015

By Eseosa Azenabor

This Friday, February 20th, the PBS series American Masters and Pittsburgh’s WQED will be presenting the national premiere of the documentary, August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand. The film tells the definitive story of August Wilson, the most prolific playwright of the last half of the 20th century, who also happens to be a Pittsburgh native. As such, we want the whole city watching! (You can watch the trailer here.)

We have invited local organizations to host watch parties for the film and lead discussions about the impact of August Wilson and his work. Don’t just watch this great film at home, join others in the community to celebrate one of Pittsburgh’s legendary artists! The following list provides the details for the organizations and the location of their watch parties. Click on hyperlinked locations to get more details and contact information. Feel free to join them and bring a friend! 

PearlArts Studio
201 N. Braddock (ENTER on Thomas Blvd side)
Doors open at 7:30 pm
Discussion at 8 pm
Movie at 9 pm

Alloy Studios
5530 Penn Avenue
Doors open at 8 pm
Discussion at 8:30 pm
Movie at 9 pm

Savoy Restaurant
2623 Penn Ave., Strip District, Pittsburgh
Doors open at 8 pm
Movie at 9 pm

Pine Richland High School*
School Library
700 Warrendale Rd., Gibsonia, PA

Doors open at 6 pm
Discussion and screening begin at 6:30 pm
*Pine Richland will be screening the film on Wednesday, February 25th
This event is free and open to the public

Summit Against Racism

posted: 02/12/2015

By Eseosa Azenabor

On January 24th, members of the Pittsburgh community braced the cold and attended the 17th Annual Summit Against Racism hosted by the Black and White Reunion. Throughout the day, multiple workshops were set up to inform and equip attendees with strategies to combat racism. Members of the local August Wilson Education Project were in attendance to both promote the project and participate in the event.

One of the workshops we attended was called "Acting Out: Creative Problem-Solving to Address Everyday Racism the Everyday Racism", which was facilitated by students from Winchester Thurston School, an August Wilson Education Project partner. In 'What Would You Do' style, facilitators split the over 70 attendees of the session into small groups. They set up scenarios where individuals acted out moments of everyday racism and gave participants the opportunity to switch places with those acting and share how they would approach the situation. Participants could jump in as the victim or even the antagonist in the scenario. By sharing strategies with each other, we were able to learn different ways to effectively respond to racism when we experience or witness it.

Participants gather in the interactive Acting Out Workshop
Workshop attendees gather to learn strategies to combat everyday racism

 

There were two sessions that incorporated August Wilson as part of the day's workshops. In one session, Winchester student, Taylor Thomas, co-led a discussion titled "Then and Now: An Exploration of August Wilson's Works and the Evolution of Local Racism." Each of Wilson's plays dealt with the racial issues of the decade in which it was set. Unfortunately, many of the issues facing Wilson's characters are still experienced today. By reading and discussing excerpts from Wilson's Century Cycle, this workshop was able to highlight the ways race relations have changed or even remained the same in the Pittsburgh area.

The Summit Against Racism was jam-packed with powerful information about ways to combat both institutional and everyday racism in the Pittsburgh area. Feel free to check out the Black and White Reunion's page and their blog about the event. 

SAR Attendees
Attendees of the Summit Against Racism gather together before breaking out into the workshops

Spotlight On: The Chicago Regional August Wilson Monologue Competition

posted: 02/09/2015

By Eseosa Azenabor

The August Wilson Education Project is a national initiative that aims to engage teachers and students while bringing awareness to the life and work of August Wilson. PBS station WYCC Chicago aims to contribute to the Education Project by “providing fun, engaging, informative and educational opportunities” for the local community. They have partnered with IMPACT Family Center- a local organization that seeks to positively affect the lives of at-risk youth in the Greater Chicago area. These organizations have arranged acting classes and workshops to prepare students for the Chicago arm of the August Wilson Monologue Competition.

Check out this highlight video of some of the work students have been doing to hone their acting skills!



"August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand" Premiering Feb. 20 on PBS American Masters

posted: 02/05/2015

Watch the trailer for August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand, then tune in to see the full documentary on PBS's American Masters series on February 20th at 9 PM EST (check your local listings).

Larry Davis, What's Your Favorite August Wilson Play?

posted: 02/03/2015

By Eseosa Azenabor

Long time academic and social justice crusader Larry Davis has spent his career examining the role race and gender play in interpersonal interactions. He strives to contribute to the academic success of youths and focuses his energy on impacting young adults in the collegiate arena. Currently, Davis is the Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the Center on Race and Social Problems. He is a published author of several books and has been featured in publications, including: the Journal of Adolescent Research, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, and Social Work Research. Recently, the August Wilson Education Project spoke with Mr. Davis and asked him about his favorite August Wilson play. Here’s what he had to say:


“My Favorite August Wilson play is Two Trains Running...it has stuck with me the most over time. It was meaningful to me because all these people were somehow fighting for social justice. Everyone was fighting for something. I think everyone should know about August Wilson’s plays. It’s an excellent way for anyone to learn more about social justice and think more sincerely about it.”



To hear more about Davis’ thoughts on August Wilson, watch the video below for the full interview.



Youth Playwrights Study Place in August Wilson's Plays

posted: 01/19/2015

"Imagine what it means to live with a place in your head, and that place having so much meaning that it maps your lifelong work. Arguably, Wilson knew something that's true for us all: where we are born, where we live or have traveled, and where we have good or painful memories never leaves us. These places and experiences inspire the stories we write. The Hill District sets the tone, theme, and sound for nine of Wilson's ten plays. What place has captured your imagination as the Hill captured Wilson?"

With these words, Dr. Tameka Cage Conley, kicked off the first of six free weekly youth playwriting workshops offered by the August Wilson Education Project, this past Saturday.  In the first hour, she led students in writing about place after reading sections from select Wilsonian plays (Gem of the Ocean, Jitney, The Piano Lesson, and Seven Guitars) that demonstrate his awareness of place.  Students then imagined their "place" captured on stage. They explored theatre devices utilized by Wilson to consider the various ways a playwright can capture "place," which has a double meaning: both location and the "place" of the heart.

In the second hour of the workshop, Charlene Foggie Barnett (pictured above) talked with students about her life growing up on The Hill and helped students to claim their stories.  Ms. Barnett is a Hill District native, one of the stars of the celebrated play, Women of the Hill, and the Archive Assistant & Oral History Coordinator for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Teenie Harris Archive.
 
**The Youth Playwriting Workshop is now closed to registrations.**
 

 

Meet Dr. Tameka Cage Conley, Youth Playwriting Workshop Facilitator

posted: 01/14/2015

Meet Dr. Tameka Cage Conley, lead teaching artist for the August Wilson Education Project's 6- Week Youth Playwriting Workshop!  Dr. Conley has created a workshop for Pittsburgh area high school students (9th-12th grades) to learn about voice, place, monologue, and other playwriting elements as they explore the spirit, legacy, and themes of August Wilson's plays. The free workshops will be held on Saturdays from 3-5 PM at WQED, starting January 17th.  Dr. Conley will be joined by other local artists and theater professionals in presenting this unique learning opportunity.  Writing supplies and snacks will be provided each week.

**The Youth Playwriting Workshop is now closed to registrations.*

"The invitation to take part in this project represents a full circle moment for me as a literary artist in the city of Pittsburgh," Dr. Conley says. "In 2010, I received the August Wilson fellowship in literary arts. No one really knew I was an artist until that point, so directing these workshops on the legacy of the great visionary and icon that is August Wilson is a highpoint in my career as a playwright and artist. I am grateful beyond measure and hold this distinguished honor with the same degree of gratitude and appreciation that I hold Wilson's extraordinary ten-play cycle."

About Dr. Tameka Cage Conley...
 
Tameka Cage Conley, PhD, is a literary artist who writes poetry, fiction, and plays. She received the doctoral degree in English in 2006 from Louisiana State University, where she was a recipient of the Huel Perkins Doctoral Fellowship.  In 2010, she received the August Wilson Center Fellowship in literary arts. Her first play, Testimony, was produced at the Center in May 2011. An excerpt of the play is published in the anthology 24 Gun Control Plays and has been performed in Los Angeles and the Darlinghurst Theatre Company in Sydney, Australia.  Her poems are published in Callaloo, The Portable Boog Reader, African American Review, Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature, and a special online feature of the Southeast Review in response to the Ferguson protests that spread across the nation. An excerpt of her novel-in-progress, This Far, By Grace, is also published in Huizache.  She has received writing fellowships from Cave Canem, the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Squaw Valley Writers Conference and Workshops.  In October 2013, she received the Eben Demarest Trust grant, awarded annually to an artist or archaeologist, to support the completion of her novel-in-progress. Last month, her poem "Losing" was chosen by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book as one of four featured poems for the Public Poetry Project in 2015. 
 
photo credit: Mario Epanya

Are YOU the Next August Wilson? The 11th Play Competition is Now Open!

posted: 01/13/2015

The 11th Play Competition is now open! WQED invites 9th-12th grade students in Western Pennsylvania to share their 21st Century story in the form of a one-act play.  Deadline for entries is February 23, 2015.  Downolad the complete competitions rules here and the official entry form here.  

Want to learn more about the art of playwriting?  Join award-winning Pittsburgh playwright Dr. Tameka Cage Conley for a FREE 6-week Youth Playwriting Workshop at WQED on Saturdays from 3-5 PM, starting January 17.  Dr. Conley and guest artists will teach workshop attendees about voice, place, monologue, and other playwriting elements.  Register today!

The Youth Playwriting Program is now closed to registrations.

Teaching August Wilson: Educator Panel Discussion

posted: 11/18/2014

In September 2014, the August Wilson Education Project at WQED convened a panel of educators to discuss the importance of teaching Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson’s work, strategies for bringing August Wilson into the classroom, and ways to empower students to develop their own unique voices while exploring themes prevalent in Wilson’s work, such as community, identity, diversity, activism, self-reliance, and resilience.


The August Wilson Education Project is generously funded by The PNC Foundation and is presented in support of the documentary, August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand, which is co-produced WQED Pittsburgh and the PBS series American Masters. The documentary premeries on PBS on February 20, 2015.

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