Hello Junior Theatre Students and Families:
Junior Theatre is proud to celebrate our diversity with Akeelah and the
Akeelah and the Bee is the story of a young African-American girl growing
up in Chicago’s South Side, who overcomes every obstacle and makes it to
the top. Along the way Akeelah is supported by a diverse group of friends,
neighbors, and teachers, of all ages and ethnicities (African-American,
Asian-American, Latin, and Caucasian).
Junior Theatre has been practicing non-traditional casting for 70 years. This means a student will always be considered for any role despite their race, gender or ability. We also celebrate diversity by choosing culturally-specific plays and musicals that put the spotlight on cultural identity, such as Akeelah and the Bee. Every effort will be made to fulfill the vision of the playwright, but adjustments in gender and ethnicity might be necessary depending on our casting pool.
To audition, students must prepare a monologue, poem or story. Do something you are comfortable with. If you’d like to be considered for a specific role, you may prepare one of the brief pieces below. A
memorized piece is preferred, but not necessary.
A .pdf copy of the entire script is available via email upon request ([email protected]).
Break a L-E-G!
Jimmy Saba, Director
AKEELAH ANDERSON – Female, 11-15, African American
GAIL ANDERSON, African American, Akeelah’s mother
REGGIE ANDERSON, about 20, African American, Akeelah’s brother
DR. JOSHUA LARABEE, African American, Akeelah’s spelling bee coach/teacher
GEORGIA, 11-15, Akeelah’s best friend
BATTY RUTH, African American, Akeelah’s first floor neighbor
MR. WILLIE, African American, building superintendent
JT, 21, African American, neighbor
RATCHET RHONDA, female, 11-15, African-American. Akeelah’s nemesis.
DYLAN CHIU, male, 12-15, Asian American
JAVIER MENDEZ, male, 12-15, Latinx
TRISH, female, 12-15, any ethnicity
IZZY, female, 11-15, any ethnicity
MR. or MRS. CHIU, Asian American – This role may be cast by either male or female
PRINCIPAL, Any ethnicity or gender.
OTHER ROLES: There will be an ensemble for this production, playing a variety of roles. Gender and race is open to all. Roles include: DJ Rule, District Judge, TV Announcer, Chucky, Pronouncer, Snorting
Girl/Boy, Crying Girl/Boy, Foxy Fay/Felix, Horse Girl/Boy, Mohawk Girl/Boy.
Hey, you got a pretty nice place here, kinda like a museum. Look at all these books. Reggie, that’s who you just met, he would love all this artwork. He’s an artist too, but I think he should go into fashion like my best friend Georgia. They both always trying to tell me what to wear. (Akeelah notices his degrees on the wall) Man, you went to Yale and UCLA? I heard those some decent schools to graduate from. I think I’d like to live in California, anywhere other than around here.
Second Rate? How you gonna call me second rate when you’re the one that supposedly went to the
National bee? You went but you didn’t win it. You know what, I can memorize any word so who needs a
dictatorial, truculent, supercilious man that thinks you need to dig up roots to spell? I can win any
spelling bee on my own. Okay! And I’m O-U-T. And that’s slang for outta here case you didn’t know!
Yeah, he died right before Thanksgiving. The first hospital wouldn’t even take him ‘cause he had a
gunshot. If they had, maybe my daddy would still be alive. Instead they thought he was in a gang or
something. All he did was go out to get us some dessert, and then some idiot had to rob and shoot him. Dr. Larabee, I really need to ask you something. Do you think when you go to heaven, do you think you still got your gunshot or do you go happy like you was before? ‘cause my daddy was always happy.
So, I gather you been sneaking out there for a while…And if your antics today weren’t enough, look what I got in the mail. (Showing her a letter) It’s from your guidance counselor, saying that you need to go to
summer school because you’ve been half turning in your work. How could you be almost failing English,
Akeelah as much as you like words? I expect this from Reggie but not you. From here on out, you will not
leave this yard except to go to summer school, which means no spelling club or Barrington Hills or any
other kind of foolishness. I don’t even want to hear the word spelling bee. Am I clear?
Naw, I ain’t pulling up my pants and I’m sick of sitting way in the back. So, this last round, so me and the
baby’ll be right here on the front row so everybody know you got family, too. You doing good, Kee, so stop acting all nervous. And you know what daddy would say, put some stank-stank on it.
I hope you realize luck was on your side at the district bee. At the state level, the competition will be
much more advanced. What if, Akeelah, you were so powerful and so courageous that all those who laugh now will one day want to be you? (He hands her the cards.) Guard these with your life. They will help you as you learn how to deconstruct language. Latin, Greek. French. And I want you to read, read, read. Words are pictures. Pictures of ideas. If you can see the picture you can see the word to spell.
This is summer school, remember? And every minute will be dedicated to learning without complaint. I
will not tolerate any foolishness, which means no tardiness, no laziness, no slang and no self-sabotage.
Otherwise, you can find yourself another coach. I’m not here to like you. I’m here to teach you. Please
don’t ever confuse the two. Goodbye.
You don’t get to bully yourself in my presence. Ever! You will stand in your power, which starts by
standing up straight and being focused on the goal at hand. What if, Akeelah, you were so powerful and so courageous that all those who laugh now will one day want to be you?
I didn’t lose at nationals because of a misspelling. I lost because I allowed a white boy to bait me and I
responded with my fists instead of my intellect. I became the stereotype they expected. And, sadly, it all
happened on the final day. Took me years to get over my unfortunate lapse in judgment.
You watch I’m gonna be like that girl who made her own prom dress and put it on Instagram and next
thing you know she designing for the stars. That’s gonna be me one day. Rockin’ that glue stick. It’s on
Twitter I’m the glitter outfitter. You should’ve let me dress you. Now, you made me take the train and two buses, brought me all the way out here.
Who’s going to join me for choir this morning? Bible says make a loud and joyful noise. Come on babies,
let’s start the day singing His praises. (Waits a beat; no one comes) Okay, then, I’ll start us off.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
Got today’s paper in case you want it. Used to love watching you and your daddy read the paper, working
them crossword puzzles together. That man could conversate on any subject. Could’ve been a teacher.
He wanted to be. (Akeelah reacts) Oh, Lord, baby, I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to upset you… I just know what it is to miss…oh forget it, don’t pay me no mind. I don’t know why I thought we could do the crossword together but shoot, I can’t put two words together let alone two letters.
They call me Ratchet Rhonda
I’ll beat you down, that’s my mantra
clap an’ I’ll spell double-entendre!
(Seeing Akeelah) Well, if it ain’t the Brainiac. Hand it over and it better be good today. (Akeelah hands over several mini cookie packs.) That’s all you got? These stupid cookies again? Should still give you a beat down for making us do this stupid spelling bee.
I have a winner mentality which has been fostered by my father. Losers are people who give up too
easily, which is certainly not in my DNA. Au revoir, petite fille. Tu ne gagnerez jamais contre moi!
[Translation: Bye, Bye little girl, you’ll never win against me!]
(Narrating like an announcer) Again you’re at Javier’s birthday spelling extravaganza, and for the last two hours Dylan and Akeelah have ferociously battled at Scrabble. The previous two games were close with Dylan winning both but as they play their third, and hopefully final game. And she’s shuffling her tiles. That great mind of hers working feverishly. The score stands at Dylan with 460 and Akeelah 450. The closest anyone has even gotten to Dylan. What will Dylan do? What will poor Dylan do if he loses?
Did I hear correctly? That you are losing to this girl? That’s it. No more parties. Obviously we need to
intensify your training if you’re still almost in a tie with some untrained girl that doesn’t even have a
coach. I DIDN’T RAISE YOU TO COME IN SECOND TO ANYONE.
Being tied with that girl, how is that trying? “Trying” is being your age and spending every night working
alongside my father steam pressing clothes, cleaning office buildings, landscaping rich people’s yards.
Have you ever had to do any of that? No. Because I made sure your…… your hands never knew the burns
and the dirt and the shame that mine have.
ALL RIGHT WHO WANTS DETENTION? Now the winner today will represent Southside at the District Bee next month, sponsored by the Chicago Tribune! The newspaper. Our school will finally have some much needed press, some good press. Isn’t this all so exciting? (The kids react – no!!!!) So Akeelah… your next word is…Your word is doubtful.
Akeelah Anderson, aged 11, nominated by her principal Milton Welch. Akeelah is on her way to compete
in the state spelling bee sponsored jointly by several Chicago newspapers. If she wins today, she will go
on to the Nationals in DC. So today we celebrate Akeelah Anderson. Southside.