Hillcrest students shine in theater competition

By Kevin Zimmerman

Hillcrest High School actress Benne McCants has conquered the New York stage, and now is on her way to take on the rest of the country.

Benne earned second place in LeAp’s NYC August Wilson Monologue Competition held at the MMAC Theater in Manhattan last week.

She will now represent the city in the national finals slated to take place at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre May 2.

“I did this program last year as a junior, and I didn’t make it to the citywide, but this time, I worked, and I used everything, and I just gave it my all,” Benne said. “It’s such an honor, and it feels amazing.”

Benne performed a monologue from the character Vera in Wilson’s 1995 play “Seven Guitars.”

The play, one of Wilson’s 10 works that make up his Pittsburgh Cycle detailing the African-American experience during the 20th century, is set in the 1940s and revolves around seven characters and a funeral.

Two other students from Hillcrest, senior Raychel Dormon and junior Alleah Edwards, also participated in the competition. Both performed monologues from Wilson’s play “Fences.”

This was the eighth edition of Learning through an Expanded Arts Program’s August Wilson monologue competition.

As part of the year-long program, students examine Wilson’s life, influences and work as part of the process.

“We are so proud of our students who have fully embraced Wilson’s work and are sensitively and beautifully inhabiting his rich characters,” Alice Krieger, director of LeAp’s August Wilson Program, said.

Yancy Perez, from Manhattan’s Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts, earned first place. Sarah Rodriguez, of Brooklyn’s Edward R. Murrow High School, was chosen as an alternate.

“This program has impacted me in ways I couldn’t even imagine,” Benne said. “It never occurred to me how deeply something can hit you, how you can tell someone else’s story. I’ve learned that if I put my mind to it, that I can do anything.”

Reach News Editor Kevin Zimmerman by e-mail at kzimmerman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4541.