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A Must See

You Have No Excuse: Don’t Miss August Wilson Cycle Recordings Live Stream

Drew Shade

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We’ve posted about the all of August Wilson’s work being read and recorded by BroadwayBlack’s finest at The Greene Space. we’ve also been raving about how epic this will be via twitter. Well, it seems that nearly all the readings have sold out, and rightfully so. It’s August Wilson!

The readings of all 10 of plays will now be streamed live and you can watch them here!

Join us for an historic series as an extraordinary cast of actors and directors — many who worked directly with Wilson — gather to make the first-ever recording of his celebrated 10-play cycle capturing 100 years of African American life in the 20th century.

The readings will feature many actors reprising the roles they performed on stage, including Tony Award winner LESLIE UGGAMS as Ruby in King Hedley II; Drama Desk and Obie Award winner ANTHONY CHISHOLM (Oz, Premium Rush) as Fielding in Jitney and Elder Barlow in Radio Golf; BRANDON DIRDEN (The Big C, House of Payne) in his Obie Award-winning role as Boy Willie in The Piano Lesson; RUSSELL HORNSBY (Grimm, Shameless) as King Hedley in King Hedley II; Emmy Award winner KEITH DAVID (Crash, Armageddon) as Seth Holly in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone; EBONY JO-ANN as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON as Canewell in Seven Guitars; JOHN EARL JELKS as Sterling Johnson in Radio Golf; ROSLYN RUFF (Rachel Getting Married, The Help) as Berniece in The Piano Lesson, among others.

Other Wilson actors will take on new roles, including Tony Award nominee S. EPATHA MERKERSON (Law & Order, Lincoln) as Bertha in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and WENDELL PIERCE (Treme, The Wire) as Red Carter in Seven Guitars.

Academy Award nominee TARAJI P. HENSON (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Person of Interest) and JESSE L. MARTIN (Law & Order, Rent) will make their Wilson debuts as Molly Cunningham in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Lyons in Fences, respectively.

Check Back here to watch the reading recordings each week.

In the meantime listen to Ruben Santiago Hudson, Phylicia Rashad, and others talk about the legacy of August Wilson, read the cast lists for the recordings, and copy the schedule of the recording series below

SCHEDULE

All readings start at 7pm at The Greene Space, 44 Charlton Street (at Varick Street), Downtown Manhattan.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom– Monday, August 26
Directed by Ruben Santiago Hudson

David Margulies……………………………Sturdyvant
Tuck Milligan…………………………………….Irvin
Charles Weldon…………………………………Cutler
Clarke Peters…………………………………..Toledo
Harvy Blanks……………………………….Slow Drag
Ebony Jo-Ann…………………………..…Ma Rainey
Joniece Abbott-Pratt………………..…….Dussie Mae
Jonathan Majors………………………..…… Sylvester

Fences–Wednesday, August 28
Directed by Kenny Leon

Eugene Lee………………………………… Jim Bono
Jesse L. Martin………………………………….Lyons
Ray Anthony Thomas………………………….Gabriel
Jonathan Majors………………………………….Cory
Regina Taylor…………………………………….Rose

Ruben Santiago-Hudson on Preserving August Wilson’s Legacy

http://www.thegreenespace.org Artistic Director and Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson discusses The Greene Space’s historic reading and recording series, ‘August Wilson’s American Century Cycle,’ presented from August 26, 2013 – September 28, 2013. Santiago-Hudson is among the extraordinary cast of actors and directors – many who worked directly with Wilson – who will gather with us to make the first-ever recording of all ten plays.

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone– Wednesday, September 4
Directed by Phylicia Rashad

Keith David…………………………….…..Seth Holly
Taraji P. Henson……………….… Molly Cunningham
S. Epatha Merkerson……………………. Bertha Holly
Roger Robinson……………………….……… Bynum
Raynor Scheine………………….……Rutherford Selig
Jason Dirden…………………….……..Jeremy Furlow
John Douglas Thompson……….……..Harold Loomis
January LaVoy………………….……Mattie Campbell
Nile Bullock………………….………Reuben Mercer
Alexis Holt…………………….………..Zonia Loomis

The Piano Lesson– Monday, September 9
Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Brandon J. Dirden………………………….Boy Willie
Roslyn Ruff…………………………………..Berniece
Jason Dirden…………………………..……….Lymon
Alexis Holt…………………………..…………Maretha
Eric Lenox Abrams………………….……….….Avery
Chuck Cooper……………………….……Wining Boy
Mandi Masden……………………………..…….Grace

Stephen McKinley Henderson on August Wilson’s Cultural Achievement

http://www.thegreenespace.org Associate Director and Tony Award-nominee Stephen McKinley Henderson discusses The Greene Space’s historic reading and recording series, ‘August Wilson’s American Century Cycle,’ presented from August 26, 2013 – September 28, 2013. He is among the extraordinary cast of actors and directors – many who worked directly with Wilson – who will gather with us to make the first-ever recording of all ten plays.

Two Trains Running– Wednesday, September 11
Directed by Michele Shay

Ron Cephas Jones……………………………….Wolf
James A. Williams………………………….Holloway
Owiso Odera………………………………….Sterling
Leon Addison Brown……………………….Hambone
Harvy Blanks…………………………………….West

Seven Guitars– Friday, September 13
Directed by Stephen McKinley Henderson

Ruben Santiago-Hudson…………………… Canewell
Wendell Pierce……………………….……Red Carter
Brenda Pressley…………………………………Louise
Lou Ferguson………………………………….Hedley
Harry Lennix……………………………Floyd Barton
Cassandra Freeman………………………………Ruby

Jitney– Monday, September 16
Directed by Ruben Santiago Hudson

Anthony Chisholm…………………………….Fielding
Amari Cheatom………………………….Youngblood
Stephen M Henderson…………………………Turnbo
Barry Shabaka Henley…………………………..Doub
Harvy Blanks…………………………………..Shealy
Joaquina Kalukango……………………………..Rena

Phylicia Rashad on August Wilson’s American Century Cycle

http://www.thegreenespace.org Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad discusses The Greene Space’s historic reading and recording series, ‘August Wilson’s American Century Cycle,’ presented from August 26, 2013 – September 28, 2013. Rashad is among the extraordinary cast of actors and directors – many who worked directly with Wilson – who will gather with us to make the first-ever recording of all ten plays.

King Hedley II– Saturday, September 21
Directed by Michele Shay

Russell Hornsby………………………King Hedley II
Leslie Uggams…………………………………..Ruby
Kevin Carroll……………………………………Mister
Stephen M. Henderson………………………..Elmore
Marsha Stephanie Blake………………………..Tonya
Arthur French……………………………Stool Pigeon

Gem of the Ocean– Tuesday, September 24
Directed by Kenny Leon

Eugene Lee…………………………………………Eli
Stephen Tyrone Williams……………..Citizen Barlow
Phylicia Rashad……………………………Aunt Ester
Danai Gurira………………………………Black Mary
Raynor Scheine………………………Rutherford Selig
Anthony Chisholm………………….Solly Two Kings
Keith Randolph Smith…………………………Caesar

Radio Golf– Saturday, September 28
Directed by Marion McClinton

Anthony Chisholm………….. ….Elder Joseph Barlow
John Earl Jelks………………………..Sterling Johnson
Rocky Carroll…………………………Harmond Wilks
Sharon Washington………………………Mame Wilks
James A. Williams……………………Roosevelt Hicks

Michele Shay on the Power of August Wilson’s 10-Play Cycle

http://www.thegreenespace.org Actor and director Michele Shay discusses The Greene Space’s historic reading and recording series, ‘August Wilson’s American Century Cycle,’ presented from August 26, 2013 – September 28, 2013. She is among the extraordinary cast of actors and directors – many who worked directly with Wilson – who will gather with us to make the first-ever recording of all ten plays.

Founder/Editor-In-Chief of BroadwayBlack.com | Actor | Artist | 1/3 of @OffBookPodcast | Theatre connoisseur | All Audra Everything | Caroline over Change | I'm Not Charl Brown | Norm Lewis is my play cousin | Producing an all-black production of Mame starring Jenifer Lewis in my head

A Must See

We Were There: Sojourners & Her Portmanteau

Jerrica White

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Playwright, educator, opera singer, and Queen, Mfoniso Udofia has two plays running at New York Theatre Workshop. *pause* TWO PLAYS. In the SAME season!?!? *ends congratulatory gasp* Sojourners and Her Portmanteau are performed in repertory, as two chapters of Udofia’s sweeping, nine-part saga, The Ufot Cycle.  Admittedly, before researching each show, I didn’t know the definition of either word; and in the spirit of keeping it consistent with the honesty, I didn’t like either play. I loved them.

Sojourners

Minimalism seems to be the name of the game these days.  I sat down to a completely black stage, sans a multimedia display lodged on the ceiling at a 45-degree angle.  Clutching my all white program and bobbing my head to the ‘70s pop rock pre-show music, I prepared my heart for the story of Sojourners, well at least that was the plan.  The stage begins to rotate and we meet Abasiama (Chinasa Ogbuagu) and Ukpong (Hubert Point-Du Jour), Nigerian expatriates sojourning in Houston, Texas with the plan to start a family, earn their degrees, and go back to Nigeria until life happens.

Charming and handsome, Ukpong becomes defined by his leather jacket, shoulder work and shimmy which match the fascination and yearning for freedom that illuminates his eyes every time he talks of peace, protest, and Prince–all shaping his view of 1970s America, and consequently, the American Dream.  But does leather compensate for grit? Is a movement or vibe really a panacea for disappointment, aimlessness, and a need to find yourself?  Abasiama enters the play pregnant, purposed, and outfitted in pieces of Nigerian garb, grounded in duty showing a stark contrast to Ukpong who floats in desire.  What’s lost in your household is found elsewhere, and this is when we start to see, and root for, Abasiama’s transformation from timid to tenacious.

Enter Moxie (Lakisha May), a colorful prostitute turned protector and friend.  There is a mutual respect despite great differences between her and Abasiama, with their love for one another creating moments that make you believe in the beauty of humanity.  Enter Disciple (Chinaza Uche), another warm and determined hearted immigrant who has come to the United States to study, rounding out the timely additions of love, support, and security when Abasiama needed them the most.

Through and through this is Abasiama’s story and she glows.  Her kindness, her sisterhood, her strength, her worthiness, and the realization of her American Dream, guide her decisions—which is the catalyst behind the entire Ufot Cycle.

Her Portmanteau

Her “portmanteau”, or red suitcase, makes a return as 30 years have passed.  Abasiama now has two daughters, one raised in America and the other who has come from Nigeria to reconnect with her family.

This is a good moment to mention that each story is informed by the other, but can certainly stand alone on substance, content, and the amazing direction of Ed Sylvanus Iskandar.  The staging is exciting and deliberate, while minimal, putting the full focus on the tension and growth to be expected of a family reunited after a substantial amount of time and distance.

Chinasa Ogbuagu returns to the stage, this time as the American-born daughter, Adiagha Ufot, Adepero Oduye as Iniabasi Ekpeyoung (Ukpong and Abasiama’s daughter), and Jenny Jules as the mother, Abasiama Ufot.

Seated on a couch in Adiagha’s small New York Apartment, no amount of preparation readies your mind and spirit to form the words to make up for 30 years of life, connection, and memories missed.  We’re taken on a ride of resentment, hurt, love, and forgiveness, as the portmanteau is literally unpacked.  We watch the teeter-tottering between offense and defense as one sister tries to assimilate into American culture, and the other attempts, albeit stubbornly, to fall in formation in honoring a family she shares blood with, but little time or tangible history.

It’s powerful to see a story of history and continuing a legacy despite lost time, faulty promises, and difficult choices explored with an all-woman cast as far too often the idea of legacy is framed in patriarchy.  Jules admirably takes Abasiama through the fire to heal, to feel, and to fix her family.  The narrative allows us to empathize and understand the struggle that comes with upholding family values versus cultivating a space to achieve personal dreams and happiness.

Her Portmanteau (and Sojourners) is written in a way that finds your soul, gently massaging it with humor, while leaving it with very real questions.  I’ve never felt a greater need to binge read nine stories and simultaneously study the story of my own family tree. I left changed. I left wrapped in the strength of my mom and my mom’s- mom’s sacrifice.  I left pensive and with seeds of future forgiveness planted.  I left changed.

For capturing our hearts with wit and with truth.  For putting Black women at the center of a poignant narrative.  For unapologetically telling a story you haven’t seen told and telling it in the way you want it to be told.

We thank you Mfoniso.  We thank you.

Have you seen the #duetplays? Sound off in the comments below![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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A Must See

Our Story in 2 Plays for 1 Price: Mfoniso Udofia’s Sojourners & Her Portmanteau

Jerrica White

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Last winter, we reported on Sojourners by playwright Mfoniso Udofia, a new play about a Nigerian family who has come to America with the goal of earning a college education, starting a family, and returning to Nigeria. But not without the twists and turns that come along with every plan that seems straightforward.

Image result for Sojourners and Her Portmanteau

Thanks to New York Theatre Workshop, we get to relive this moment and continue the dialogue, decades later, with Her Portmanteau. Performed in repertory, these two chapters of Udofia’s sweeping, nine-part saga, The Ufot Cycle, chronicle the triumphs and losses of the tenacious matriarch of a Nigerian family.

Ed Sylvanus Iskandar directs the two-part story in association with The Playwrights Realm, who premiered Sojourners last winter in a limited engagement world premiere production. Her Portmanteau also received the 2016 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award grant.

The cast includes Jenny JulesLakisha Michelle MayAdepero OduyeChinasa OgbuaguHubert Point-Du Jour, and Chinaza Uche.

As if that wasn’t enough to get excited about, we have an exclusive deal for our Broadway Black readers!

Our Story in 2 Plays for 1 Price!

Yes. That’s two shows for one price! The discount code BWYBLACK will take 50% off tickets to ANY performance(s) if purchased by May 15th! 

Go ahead and grab your tickets. We have ours!

Sojourners and Her Portmanteau plays at NYTW until June 4th.

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