Giving Voice Parent Guide
This documentary knocks it out of the park for a specific audience - maybe less so for everyone else.
Parent Movie Review
Opportunities for young African-American actors are pretty thin on the ground in some parts of the country, but the August Wilson Monologue Competition helps to fill the void. Named in honor of the famous American playwright, competitors choose one of Wilson’s monologues to perform in front of audiences and a panel of judges. On the line are cash prizes, opportunities for recognition, and a chance to perform on Broadway in the finals. Along the way, competitors from a variety of background explore their interest in acting and how their lived experience shapes their approach to the material.
As with a lot of documentaries, this probably isn’t a good choice for young viewers. There are a plethora of positive messages and interesting stories, but small children are not famed for their interest in social issues, theatre, or their willingness to sit still for what is functionally an hour and a half of interview footage. Moreover, there are some mature themes and language that come out of these plays – primarily in the form of 3 extreme profanities and half a dozen racial slurs.
Even with adults, there’s a limited audience for this kind of documentary. It’s not thrilling, fast-paced, risqué, or action-packed. Giving Voice has a very specific focus on the effects of August Wilson’s plays on these young people. If you’re not interested in theatre generally, August Wilson specifically, or youth education, there isn’t too much here to keep you going. Apart, of course, from the important questions these works and these youth raise over the course of the film.
Wilson’s work is complex and difficult, and these monologues represent that, hence the profanity. But more importantly, they force people to address social and racial issues that perhaps they find it more comfortable to ignore. What I found particularly impressive was the grace and eloquence with which these teenaged competitors handled the material, and the dignity they brought to it. Although there’s only one winner of the competition, it seems that everyone who competed came away with something – even if that was only renewed determination or a collection of August Wilson’s plays.Directed by James D. Stern and Fernando Villena. Starring Viola Davis, Aaron Guy, and Callie Holley. Running time: 87 minutes. Theatrical release December 11, 2020. Updated February 26, 2021
Watch the trailer for Giving Voice
Rating & Content Info
Why is Giving Voice rated PG-13? Giving Voice is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for strong language and some suggestive references.Violence: There are references to violence in some of the monologues and some of the competitors personal stories. None is seen.
Sexual Content: There is a brief description of sexual assault in one of the monologues.
Profanity: There are three uses of extreme profanity and half a dozen uses of racial slurs, all within monologues.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated February 26, 2021
Giving Voice Parents' Guide
What does this competition mean for the young black actors involved? What do some of the established actors say about it in their interviews? Would you ever want to be involved in a competition like this? What kind of preparation do you think it takes?
Who was August Wilson? Have you ever seen or read one of his plays? What are some of the themes in his work?