American Stage Presents August Wilson's THE PIANO LESSON thru 3/3
August Wilson's THE PIANO LESSON, set circa 1936 in Pittsburgh, was written in 1990. Play of the Year" by the New York Drama Critics' Circle, THE PIANO LESSON earnEd Wilson his 2nd Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as a Drama Desk Award. The Piano Lesson focuses on the disagreement between brother and sister over their family heirloom, an intricately carved piano, with detailed carvings of their ancestors during their days of enslavement.
Mark Clayton Southers, is directing American Stage Theatre's production of THE PIANO LESSON, which will be performed in two acts with one intermission. Mark is the Artistic Director of Theatre Initiatives for the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh, PA. Watch an interview with Mark at the end of the article!
The cast includes Tanesha Gary* (Berniece) Bryant Bentley* (Boy Willie), playing sister and brother. Both Tanesha and Bryant are making their American Stage debuts. Bryant played the role of Boy Willie previously at the CATCO Theater in Columbus, OH for which he won a nomination for "Best Actor".
Alan Bomar Jones* (Doaker Charles) is a resident artist with American Stage Theatre Company. This will be Alan's fifth August Wilson cycle play performed with American Stage Theatre Company. ranney* (Avery Brown) is honored and thrilled to join American Stage in it's production of The Piano Lesson. This is ranney's sixth August Wilson production. The previous five included the role of Boy Willie in the Center Theatre Company's Production of The Piano Lesson in Tampa (Critic's Choice for "Best Actor", Creative Loafing). He was seen most recently in the Jobsite Theater production of David Mamet's Race.
Kim Sullivan* (Wining Boy) returns to American Stage to appear in his fifth production in August Wilson's Century Cycle. Previous credits include Bono in Fences, Stool Pidgeon in King Hedley II, Solly Two Kings in Gem of the Ocean, and Toldeo in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Canewell in Seven Guitars (all at American Stage).
Chicago born Sati Word (Lymon) is also making his American Stage Theatre and August Wilson production debut. Brandy Grant (Grace) returns to American Stage after playing Ruby in Seven Guitars. The character of Berneice's daughter, (Maretha), is played by two young actresses: ten year old Shakenya Clark and Chloe Jackson.
In addition to Director Mark Clayton Southers, the Artistic Staff also includes award-winning Scenic Designer Frank Chavez, with his third scenic design for the August Wilson series here at American Stage. Frank previously designed sets for Seven Guitars and King Hedley II.
Saidah Ben Judah returns as Costume Designer for The Piano Lesson, after designing the costumes for Seven Guitars last season at American Stage. Mike Wood, theatre design and technology instructor at Howard W. Blake School of the Arts in Tampa, is Lighting Designer and Lynne Locher is Sound Designer. Scenic Dresser and Properties Master is Jerid Fox and Technical Director is Timon Brown.
August Wilson was born on April 27, 1945 and grew up in the Hill district of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His childhood experiences in this poor black community would later inform his dramatic writings. Then, in 1984, August Wilson was catapulted to the forefront of the American theatre scene with the success of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, produced at Yale and later in New York in 1984. Wilson continued to work in close collaboration with Lloyd Richards of the Yale School of Drama, and by early 1990's, had established himself as the best-known and most popular African-American playwright.
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