Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson was able to capture 100 years of African American life in his riveting, American Century Cycle. The 10 decade-by-decade plays begin in the early 1900s, right when African-Americans had to deal with the immediate after-effects of slavery, and close in the 1990s, when even an influential Black middle class could not escape persistent racial tension. The series includes plays such as Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, which tells the story of migrants who pass through a Pittsburgh boardinghouse during the Great Migration of the 1910s, to Two Trains Running, set in 1969 and telling the story of a diner owner who fights to stay open as a municipal project encroaches on his establishment. No matter the decade or the story, it is apparent August Wilson’s plays have had a monumental impact on Black life and the theatre world.
In 2013, The Greene Space brought together close to 100 theater artists from across the globe to create audio recordings for the very first time of all 10 plays, including Tony Award-winner Leslie Uggams; Drama Desk and Obie Award-winner Anthony Chisholm; Obie Award-winner Brandon Dirden; Russell Hornsby; Tony Award-winner Roger Robinson; Emmy Award-winner Keith David; Ebony Jo-Ann;John Earl Jelks; Roslyn Ruff; S. Epatha Merkerson; Wendell Pierce; Harry Lennix and Taraji P. Henson.
The series is presented by The Greene Space in partnership with the August Wilson Estate, where Dr. Indira Etwaroo serves as Executive Producer. It is led by Constanza Romero, Wilson’s widow. Together they brought together many longtime Wilson collaborators and interpreters, including Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who served as Artistic Director for the project, and Associate Director and Tony Award-nominee Stephen McKinley Henderson.
I highly recommend you take a moment of your day to listen. It is truly a joy and makes for a nice Sunday afternoon treat. I also strongly suggest you listen to them in chronological order to understand how the African-American experience progressed over time. Audio will only be available through August 26, 2015.
Click here to listen now.