From sympathetic soliloquies to momentous monologues, on March 24-26, high school students from the southeast region competed in the regional finals for the innovative Next Narrative TM Monologue Competition. 

Hosted by the True Colors Theater company, which is currently celebrating its 20th season, the Next Narrative is a national competition where students have the opportunity to strut their comedic and dramatic skills by reciting monologues from playwrights in front of judges for the opportunity to win an all expense paid trip to the national finals held in May at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York.

Other prizes included scholarships and cash prizes. 

After a long weekend of competition, winners from this year’s competition include:

  • First Place – Jomar Crawford, Utopian Academy
  • Second Place – Eryn Regans, Tri-Cities High School 
  • Third Place – Ronnie McCoy, South Atlanta High School

Hosts for this year’s competition also included seasoned thespians, Brian Jordan Jr, currently found on “Tyler Perry’s: Sista’s” and Jamil Jude, artistic director of True Colors.

“The significance of this type of space for young artists to express themselves through such a powerful medium (theater) is paramount in my opinion — especially after the re-establishing of theater post pandemic, ” Jordan, Jr. said. 

True Colors not only aims to uplift young talent, but veteran and upcoming playwrights as well. The monologues students recited were commissioned from contemporary playwrights. 

During this process, the monologues go through a period of dramaturgical review with a committee of theater professionals. Once the committee delivers their notes, the playwright delivers a final draft that’s ultimately sent to Theatrical Rights worldwide to publish. 

Once it’s in that Compendium, it is then shared with the different regional partners at theaters, schools, and any partner organizations that True Colors may have across the country to share with their students. 

 With guidance from their teachers, the students then choose whichever monologue they want to perform. This year’s monologue themes included:

  • Class 
  • Gender 
  • Ableism/inclusivity 
  • Relationship to technology 
  • Family/Community 
  • Cultural celebration/competency 
  • Global warming/environmental 
  • Immigration/international relationships 
  • Social/emotional/physical health 
  • Abstract/non-thematic

The National Next Narrative Monologue Competition Coordinator, Larsen Kennedy, said True Colors as an organization is “really passionate about supporting Black creatives, specifically Black theater professionals.

“We want to be sure that we are not only uplifting the voices of these contemporary playwrights, but we’re also uplifting the voices of the next generation of Black theater makers in these high school students”, said Larsen. “We’re really lucky to have a partnership with Theatrical Rights worldwide, our publishing partner to create a compendium of work from contemporary Black playwrights, and then with our regional partners, and our school partners, to have the ability to share that work.”

Kennedy also said with hundreds of students across the country, it’s important not only within their strategic vision and mission for the company, but also like a core tenant of the education department within True Colors. 

“To share the great work that contemporary black playwrights are doing with the next generation is our main goal,” he said.