Chicago student wins August Wilson Monologue Competition

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Ireon Roach (center) won first place in the August Wilson Monologue Competition on May 2. Here she is surrounded by earlier winners of the Chicago competition Danielle Chmielewski (left) and Tevion Devin Lanier. (Photo courtesy of the competition)

If you happened to see a play called “Milk Like Sugar” this past winter – a remarkable production by The Yard, the theater company comprised of gifted students at Senn High School who work under the direction of Mechelle Moe and Joel Ewing – you will already have seen the work of a young actress by the name of Ireon Roach, a junior at the school.

Roach recently won the 2016 Indy Poet Finals for Louder Than a Bomb. And at the moment she also has a brief cameo appearance in “Dry Land,” the knockout show now at Rivendell Theatre. But now she can add yet another impressive credit to her resume: On May 2 she was awarded first place in the prestigious National August Wilson Monologue Competition, which was held in New York – at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. She performed a monologue spoken by the character of Ruby in Wilson’s play, “King Hedley II.

Roach had already won first place in the Chicago competition, which included a $500 scholarship and expenses paid for the final competition in New York. (The Chicago competition is sponsored by The League of Chicago Theatres, Goodman Theatre, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, with competition organizer Derrick Sanders.)

Competitors in the national competition finals were from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Seattle.  While in New York, these finalists explored popular Manhattan attractions, attended the Broadway productions of “Hamilton” and “The Color Purple,” and worked closely with two of Wilson’s closest collaborators— director Kenny Leon and dramaturg Todd Kreidler.

The top three contestants from that national competition also received monetary awards, with Roach, in first place, winning a $1500 cash prize. (The runner-up received a $1000 cash prize, and the honorable mention a $500 cash prize.) Each of the winners will also become eligible for college scholarship opportunities, and all finalists receive the gift of TCG’s (Theater Communications Group’s) Century Cycle collection of Wilson’s plays.

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