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JITNEY Director, Stars Stop THEATER TALK Today

This week on THEATER TALK the guests are director Ruben Santiago-Hudson with actors John Douglas Thompson and Brandon J. Dirden from the powerful ensemble cast of August Wilson's Jitney, now at the Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Jitney was the first of 10 plays written by the late playwright in his decade-by-decade American Century Cycle chronicling the African American experience, but it was the only one of them never to be on Broadway - until now. Hudson's critically acclaimed production of the epic drama, set in the office of a gypsy cab company in Pittsburgh during the 1970s, is playing through March 12.

THEATER TALK's interview, co-hosted by producer Susan Haskins and Michael Riedel of the New York Post, not only provides insights into the talent and personality of August Wilson, but is a fascinating primer about the process of creating theater itself. Santiago-Hudson tells a moving story of his first audition for the playwright and how he and the writer later collaborated on many productions (one of them, Seven Guitars, winning Santiago-Hudson a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play) and became close friends in the process.

Santiago-Hudson also discusses his seven-year desire, and campaign, to get Jitney done on Broadway and how, in a revelatory audition, he and producer Lynne Meadow came to cast Dirden and Thompson in the current production, which The New York Times calls "glorious" with an "impeccably tuned ensemble."

The August Wilson's Jitney edition of THEATER TALK premieres in the New York City metropolitan area today, February 17 (2017) on PBS station Thirteen/WNET at 1:30 AM (early Saturday morning) and repeats there on Sunday 2/19 at 11:30 AM; it re-airs on CUNY TV* Saturday 2/18 at 8:30 PM, Sunday 2/19 at 12:30 PM, and Monday 2/20 at 7:30 AM, 1:30 PM, and 7:30 PM; and also airs on WLIW/21 on Monday 2/20 at 5:30 PM and on NYCLife on Thursday 2/23 at 11 PM.

THEATER TALK is jointly produced by the not-for-profits Theater Talk Productions and CUNY TV. The program is taped in the Himan Brown TV and Radio Studios at The City University of New York (CUNY) TV in Manhattan, and is distributed to 100+ participating public television stations nationwide. THEATER TALK is made possible in part by The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The CUNY TV Foundation, and The Friends of THEATER TALK.

*CUNY TV, the City University of New York television station, is broadcast in the NYC metropolitan area on digital Ch. 25.3 and cablecast in the city's five boroughs on Ch. 75 (Time Warner & Optimum Brooklyn), Ch. 77 (RCN), and Ch. 30 (Verizon FiOS). THEATER TALK episodes are available online anytime at and and via iTunes.

Pictured: Brandon J. Dirden, Ruben Santiago-Hudson & John Douglas Thompson from Jitney (Image courtesy Theater Talk Prod. Inc. & CUNY TV).

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