The Greene Space's AMERICAN CENTURY CYCLE Recordings, Featuring Phylicia Rashad & More, Online Now
In the fall of 2013, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC & WQXR undertook a historic undertaking: to record -- for the first time -- all 10 plays from August Wilson's lauded American Century Cycle. Those audio recordings, along with exclusive video excerpts and photographs from the readings, are now being made available for online streaming on a time-limited basis here until August 26, 2015.
For this unprecedented project, The Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR in Lower Manhattan convened close to 100 theater artists from around the globe to record Wilson's magnum opus. Dr. Indira Etwaroo, Executive Producer, in partnership with the August Wilson Estate, led by Wilson's widow Constanza Romero, brought together many longtime Wilson collaborators and interpreters, including Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the project's Artistic and Associate Director and Tony Award-nominee Stephen McKinley Henderson. Directors included Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon; Tony Award-winner Phylicia Rashad; Michele Shay; and Marion McClinton.
The recorded readings feature many actors reprising the roles they performed on stage, 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; Jerome Preston Bates; and Taraji P. Henson in her Wilson debut.
The readings were scored with original music by Grammy-nominated composer Bill Sims, Jr. and other composers who worked with Wilson.
Gem of the Ocean and Joe Turner's Come and Gone are available now. The rest of the series will be released Sundays on a weekly basis.
August Wilson's acclaimed 10-play cycle captures 100 years of African American life during each decade of the 20th century. The cycle begins in the early 1900s, when wounds from slavery and the Civil War were still fresh, and closes in the 1990s, when even a large and increasingly influential black middle class could not escape persistent racial tensions.
Schedule of release dates:
April 26: Gem of the Ocean and Joe Turner's Come and Gone
May 3: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
May 10: The Piano Lesson
May 17: Seven Guitars
May 24: Fences
May 31: Two Trains Running
June 7: Jitney
June 14: King Hedley II
June 21: Radio Golf
The August Wilson American Century Cycle Recording Project was made possible with the leadership support of the Ford Foundation.
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Pictured: Phylicia Rashad as Aunt Ester in GEM OF THE OCEAN, recorded live in The Greene Space in 2013 (Matthew Septimus).