AUGUST WILSON'S HOW I LEARNED WHAT I LEARNED (Signature Theater Company)

WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Not sure when this started previews (I think yesterday or the day before), but I saw it tonight and enjoyed it. Ruben Santiago-Hudson plays Wilson and the show chronicles various episodes of his younger life where he (as the title suggests) learned something of significance. There wasn't a story that wasn't entertaining and they all help the 90 minute running-time pass by rather quickly. Santiago-Hudson is excellent; he's a warm presence onstage and he comes off as a master storyteller here. It's a 90 minute monologue and aside for a few stumbles here and there, he was thankfully well-prepared and at ease (in other words, he's not pulling a Bette).

I will say the structure of the piece naturally feels a bit disparate at points (it's basically story/end, story/end, story/end, etc)...there isn't much of a through-line. And because of this, there isn't any real emotional payoff. But that doesn't mean the show isn't interesting, entertaining, and at points, rather profound. If you like August Wilson, I don't see a reason to not see it.

The design is really nice; the stage is an elevated wooden space with dirt and various garbage-like objects underneath. Surrounding the stage is a wall of sheets of paper, each piece suspended by a piece of fishing wire. Each segment of the play is introduced by the "title" of the story being projected on the pieces of paper, along with typewriter sound effects. And the show ends *spoiler?* with each title of Wilson's plays being projected on the wall of paper, one by one. It's a nice touch.

Sorry if any of this is confusing or poorly worded; I'm exhausted. I'd love to hear what the rest of you all think if you see it!

Current Avatar: Tony-winner Idina Menzel, delivering a sucker-punch of an 11:00 number, "Always Starting Over," in IF/THEN.
Updated On: 11/8/13 at 11:42 PM
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
the thing i'm confused about is, did Wilson actually write this piece before he died?
yfs
Chorus Member
joined:11/1/13
He did. And he performed it at Seattle Rep.

PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
ok because the advertising doesn't exactly make that clear
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
Oh interesting. Didn't realize August Wilson actually performed this or even wrote this. I thought it was complied posthumously. I love August Wilson, even if he does make us white folk look pretty terrible.