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West Mifflin student takes top prize at August Wilson monologue contest

Dino DiStefano
The fifth annual Pittsburgh August Wilson Monologue competition winners are Thembisile Gxuluwe, first place; Tamiya Martin, second; and Shamari Nevels, third.

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By Alice T. Carter
Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Thembisile Gxuluwe took first place in the fifth annual Pittsburgh August Wilson Monologue Competition. Gxuluwe, a student at West Mifflin High School, portrayed Tanya in a monologue from Wilson's “King Hedley II.”

Tamiya Martin, from Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School, performed a different monologue from “King Hedley II” and took second place. Shamari Nevels, who lives in Highland Park and is home-schooled, won third place with Caesar Wilkes' monologue from “Gem of the Ocean.”

As first-place winner, Gxuluwe received a $500 cash prize and a $10,000 scholarship from Point Park University. Martin won $250 and a $7,000 Point Park University scholarship, and Nevels won $100 and a $5,000 Point Park University scholarship.

Twenty-five students participated in the local competition, sponsored by the Bill Nunn Outreach Project founded by actor Bill Nunn. It is part of a national August Wilson Monologue Competition that was created to connect students to the playwright's 10-play Century Cycle and to encourage schools to incorporate the plays into the high-school curriculum.

All three winners of the Pittsburgh contest will travel to New York City to participate in the national competition May 5 and 6 at the August Wilson Theater on Broadway.

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media.

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