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John Burroughs student to compete in August Wilson Monologue regional finals

John Burroughs student to compete in August Wilson Monologue regional finals
John Burroughs High School senior K.J. Powell will be performing in the regional finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Carla Rhea)

A John Burroughs High School student hopes to wow judges with his emotional performance of a monologue from an August Wilson play.

Senior K.J. Powell will be performing a piece from the famed playwright's play "Seven Guitars" at the August Wilson Monologue Competition's Southern California regional finals on Monday at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

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Powell is one of 12 high school students selected from Los Angeles and Orange counties to perform at the regional finals. The students have been working with members of the Center Theatre Group, the host of the competition, for the last two months to refine their performances for the big night.

The John Burroughs student's monologue is spoken by the character Canewell from "Seven Guitars," a play about a group of friends reminiscing about a recently deceased friend's last week alive.

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The main story, which is told in flashbacks, is about a musician named Floyd Barton, who was trying to win back his girlfriend, Vera, after being released from jail but would be later killed.

Canewell, one of Barton's friends and a bandmate, was also in love with Floyd's girlfriend in the past but had to come to terms with the fact that she loved Barton more than him.

Powell said he chose to portray Canewell for his monologue because he felt a connection and believed he understood what the character was going through.

The high school senior said he had recently gone through a breakup and the emotions Canewell expresses are similar to what the actor had experienced. That helped give his monologue a soul, Powell said.

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"He was trying to play it off, but he really just wants to cry and go off on Vera, but he holds down that emotion," he said.

Powell said he was hesitant to choose that section in "Seven Guitars" to be his monologue, saying he felt embarrassed about using his emotions from his recent breakup.

"I was nervous about how awkward and weird it would feel, but once I started performing, I felt confident and comfortable with what I was doing," he said.

Twitter: @acocarpio

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