By Alec Clayton
Two Timberline High School students were among the top three contestants in the second annual Seattle August Wilson Monologue Competition at Seattle Repertory Theatre. From there the students, Xavier Evans, a senior, and Stacey Ejim, junior, went to New York for the competition finals at the August Wilson Theatre. Neither won the finals, but just getting that far was a major accomplishment and will surely be a boost to their future theatrical careers.
Xavier said, “I did not place but I definitely made a huge impression on the people there. Performing on a Broadway stage was a life-changing experience. I impressed a lot of people, met a lot of directors and producers who gave me their contact information. I actually got accepted into the Circle in The Square acting school in New York that I want to attend this summer. So the trip was everything I hoped for. Winning would have been nice but it was not the big picture.”
Stacey said, “New York was an eye-opening experience. It made me realize that I love acting and that it is something that I will definitely pursue. I got to perform on a Broadway Stage and it was memorable. I appreciated the feedback I received from many people, which was to continue and that I have a real presence on stage. Again New York was amazing and I can’t wait for next year when I can hopefully compete again.
In the Seattle competition, Xavier won first prize and $500. Stacey place third and won $100. This was Xavier’s second year to compete in the August Wilson Monologue Competition and Stacey’s first. Xavier was an alternate last year but didn’t get to go to New York.
Both students have been interested in acting since an early age, and both hope to go into acting professionally. Stacey says she first caught the acting bug from watching the Disney Channel. Xavier caught the bug from watching “Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire.” He says his idols are Denzel Washington and Will Smith.
“I never tried acting but was always told I should,” Xavier said. “Finally I tried it my sophomore year.” In his junior year at Timberline he acted in two plays, “Because Their Hearts Were Pure” and “Waiting for Godot.”
Stacey started acting her freshman year. She was in “Ragtime,” and in her junior year she was Motormouth Maybelle in “Hairspray,” the role played in the movie by her hero, Queen Latifah.
This year both students will be in the Timberline High production of “Chicago.”
Xavier says he has never seen any of August Wilson’s plays but he has watched pieces from some on video, including “Fences,” which is what his monologue came from. He says he has also seen parts of “Ma Rainey” and some of Wilson’s other plays.
Stacey’s monologue for the competition was from “Gem of the Ocean.” She has never before been to New York. Xavier has been there, but when he was very young and he doesn’t remember anything about it.
Judges for the Seattle competition were Suzanne Bouchard, Kim Staunton, Peter Crook, Marya Sea Kaminski and Teagle Bougere, all cast members in Clybourne Park at the Seattle Rep.
August Wilson is a world renowned playwright famous for a series of 10 plays that cover 100 years of the African-American experience. He spent the final 15 years of his life in Seattle. He died in 2005.