Jazzy Ducay shares her experiences with the August Wilson Monologue Competition
In 2014, I won 3rd place in the Seattle August Wilson Monologue Competition and went to the National Finals in New York City. New York was beyond amazing. My fellow competitors were incredibly talented, kind, and full of surprises. I performed for a packed house at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway and received a standing ovation.
This year, Seattle Rep brought me on as the Education Youth Ambassador. I helped Rep staff recruit students for the competition, coached participants, and traveled to New York City for the National Finals. I was a peer mentor and documented the entire trip. Our Seattle finalists were Jaron Crawford, Noah Skillman, and Anthony Toney. We called them “the boys.” Here are my top ten moments from the 2015 trip to New York City:
- On our first night in the city I watched Hilda Willis, Education Consultant for True Colors Theatre Company, lead ice-breakers and warm ups with all 24 national finalists. All of the competitors bonded and connected through her skillful teaching.
- Our students had a Q and A with legendary Broadway director and Wilsonian solider Kenny Leon. Kenny told the group about his path to success from growing up in poverty with his grandmother to directing August Wilson’s plays (and more) on Broadway.
- We took the subway from Times Square to Harlem and there was a performer playing bucket drums in the station. Tony jumped in and was dancing to the music. Then we got on the subway and some students performed their monologues for the whole subway car. Many commuters were confused as to what was happening, which was amusing.
- The students got to perform at “Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre”. Tony sang, Jaron performed his monologue, and Noah improvised. They had the opportunity to rub the Tree of Hope, a symbol of luck for many famous performers.
- The boys and I spoke in accents during the majority of the trip. Most of us spoke in a British accent and tried to fool the shopkeepers in Times Square. Trust me, it worked.
- We saw the Broadway show Something Rotten (which was amazing by the way). After the show, I met actor Michael James Scott. I asked him what it was like to be a gay performer on Broadway and he told me “As long as you can act, sexuality doesn’t matter. Don’t be afraid of a certain role. If it fits you, it’s meant to be.”
- The food of NYC! We had Italian, Mexican, pizza, Philly cheesecakes, a diner breakfast, and cheesecake.
- On the night of the performance we held hands in a circle with the whole Seattle team. I led a prayer with the boys right before they took the stage. We acknowledged and appreciated each other’s work and I told them no matter what, they will always be winners.
- National Finals on the August Wilson Theatre stage: Watching them perform—the anticipation was killing me! It was exhilarating. I was nervous for them, but I was even more proud of them.
- I absolutely loved being both a peer and a mentor to the boys. I was showing them the ropes, bonding with them, and asking them about their lives. I pushed them to go outside their comfort zone and meet other competitors. We all became a second family and relied on each other. Even though we didn’t win, we were a team that represented the legacy of August Wilson and our hometown Seattle.
I’d like to thank Seattle Rep for the opportunity to be a mentor and Wilsonian Soldier of this program. Wilson’s characters all struggle but remind us that we should never give up when facing tough times. It’s truly inspiring.
Read more about Seattle Rep’s commitment to the August Wilson Monologue Competition here.