August Wilson's THE PIANO LESSON Comes to Morgan State University

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In October of 2019, Dr. Shirley Basfield Dunlap directed the Morgan State University (MSU) commemoration of 400 years of African presence in America. This commemoration continues at MSU this February 21st- 23rd and 27th-29th, 2020 as Dr. Dunlap directs August Wilson's The Piano Lesson from Wilson's Century Cycle, which documents the African-American experience, with each of the 10 plays set in a different decade of the 20th century.

The Piano Lesson is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. This modern American classic is about family and its legacy resulting from slavery in America. It is post Great Depression (1936), and Boy Willie Charles arrives in Pittsburgh from the South in a battered truck loaded with watermelons to sell. He has an opportunity to buy some land down home, the land on which his family were slaves, but he must come up with the money in a hurry. Will his sister Berniece allow him to sell the piano, which through its ornate carvings of the Charles family ancestors dating back to slavery and before, is a symbol and reminder of the history that is their family legacy? This dilemma is the real "piano lesson," reminding us that Blacks are often deprived both, of the symbols of their past and of opportunity in the present.

Dr. Shirley Basfield Dunlap, associate professor and coordinator of theatre arts at Morgan State University is an inductee into The National Theatre Conference. She received a nomination for Best Director from the Broadway World Regional Awards for the play Red Velvet, produced by the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Dunlap is a member of The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), and the first and only African American person to direct Ntozake Shange's award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf in the Nordic region. Basfield Dunlap's 2018 dissertation, "The Oral History Project of African American Stage Directors in American Theatre," explores how the making of a play is influenced by the cultural lens of the director. Dr. Dunlap's impactful direction of The Piano Lesson will once again give us a look through her brilliant lens and leave a mark on the American Theatre.

Performances will be held in the Murphy Fine Arts Center (Turpin-Lamb theater), 2201 Argonne Drive, Baltimore MD 21251.

For tickets and information: Call the Murphy Fine Arts Centerbox office: (443)885-3665, or visit

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