August Wilson's Work Returns to the Goodman; Annual Competition Winners Advance to Finals

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone appears April 13 – May 12.

By: Mar. 22, 2024
August Wilson's Work Returns to the Goodman; Annual Competition Winners Advance to Finals
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Rehearsals for longtime August Wilson interpreter Chuck Smith’s new production of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone are underway with an all-Chicago cast. Smith’s revival of Wilson’s second work in the playwright’s famed American Century Cycle follows Herald Loomis (A.C. Smith), who, in a journey in search of his estranged wife, must first contend with his own sense of heritage and identity in this story of spiritual and emotional resurrection. The cast features Harper Anthony (Reuben Mercer), Anthony Fleming III (Jeremy Furlow), TayLar (Bertha Holly), Gary Houston (Rutherford Selig), Kylah Jones (Zonia), Nambi E. Kelley (Mattie Campbell), Krystel V. McNeil (Molly Cunningham), Tim Rhoze (Bynum Walker), Shariba Rivers (Martha Loomis) and Dexter Zollicoffer (Seth Holly).

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone appears April 13 – May 12 in the 856-seat Albert Theatre (opening night is Wednesday, April 24 at 7pm). Tickets ($25 - $90; subject to change) are available at or by phone at 312.443.3800. Goodman Theatre is grateful for the support of The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust (Lead Funder of IDEAA Programming).


On Monday, March 18, The League of Chicago Theatres in collaboration with Gilded Road Productions presented the 2024 Local Competition of August Wilson New Voices, an annual showcase of the best emerging talent across Chicagoland area high schools at the Goodman. Of over 300+ Chicagoland high school students who entered the 15th annual Monologue and “Designing August” Design Competitions, the top two places from each category will represent Chicago at the National competition held in Pittsburgh on April 26-29.

“The August Wilson New Voices program engenders the kind of community building that can only be done through theater, and our work with young students ensures the future generations of theater artists on and behind stages, as well as theater lovers and supporters,” said Quenna Barrett, the August Wilson New Voices Chicago Program Coordinator.

First and second place for the monologue competition went to Thornton Fractional North High Schoolers, with John McBeth III taking the first-place prize at the Chicago finals for his performance as the character Levee in Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Keniyah Stephenson took home the second-place prize with her performance as Berniece from The Piano Lesson. Samantha Gonzalez (Chicago High School for the Arts) came in third place with a performance as King Hedley from King Hedley II. The “Designing August,” portion of the competition, which focuses on scenic and design elements, returned for its fourth year. Janeci Correa (Chicago High School for the Arts) earned first place for the design competition; second place went to Vallesia Robinson (Aspira College High School) and third place went to Jamaria Stamps (CRW College Prep).

Adjudicators for the 2024 Monologue Competition included Sydney Chatman (former Goodman Maggio Fellow and founding director of The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit); Luther Goins (playwright, director and theater consultant) and Ron OJ Parson (2022 Chicagoan of the Year for Theater and director for the world-premiere of Toni Stone). Adjudicators for the Design Competition included Andrew Boyce (set designer for world premiere of Dana H.); Kotryna Hilko (costume designer for How Blood Go); and Yvonne Miranda (costume designer for Ain’t No Mo). The free annual August Wilson New Voices Competition gives youth an opportunity to explore and share the richness of Wilson’s American Century Cycle through master classes and offering college scholarships. Program participants encountered Wilson’s ten-play cycle and received coaching from teaching artists to prepare their monologues for competition.

Born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August Wilson (1945-2005) authored the American Century Cycle of 10 plays, including Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African Americans, decade by decade, over the course of the 20th century. Goodman Theatre was the first in the country to have produced every play in Wilson’s cycle. In 2003, Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show How I Learned What I Learned. Wilson’s work garnered many awards, including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain’s Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars and Jitney. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award and Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. On October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theater located at 245 West 52nd Street the August Wilson Theatre.