Arden Theatre Company Continues Season With August Wilson's RADIO GOLF, March 23- April 16

Kash Goins, who was an actor in the Arden's production of Two Trains Running, returns to direct.

By: Mar. 03, 2023

Arden Theatre Company is bringing audiences back into the world of August Wilson's ten-part series, The American Century Cycle. This time audiences will journey to Pittsburgh in the late 1990s for the final play of the cycle, August Wilson's Radio Golf. This bittersweet drama of assimilation and alienation in nineties America traces the forces of change on a neighborhood and its people caught between history and the twenty-first century. This is the fifth play in the cycle that the Arden has produced. Kash Goins, who was an actor in the Arden's production of Two Trains Running, returns to direct. August Wilson's Radio Golf runs March 23-April 16.

Opening Night is Wednesday, March 29 at 7:00 pm. All performances will be on the F. Otto Haas Stage, which was just refurbished with brand new seats. Tickets start at $28 and are available online at www.ardentheatre.org, by phone at 215.922.1122, or in person at the box office at The Arden Theatre Company at 40 N. 2nd Street.

August Wilson's seminal cycle of 10 plays covers African-American history in the 20th century, with all but one set in Pittsburgh's Hill District, where Wilson grew up. This "Century Cycle" of plays has recurring characters, though the plays were not written in chronological order. "My plays are ultimately about love, honor, duty, betrayal," Wilson said in an interview in 1996. All nine of the plays that performed on Broadway received Tony Award nominations for Best Play and two won Pulitzer Prizes.

"I'm a huge fan of August Wilson and everything that he means to artists like me, and all of the audiences that have been or will be blessed to experience his vast collection of work," said Goins. "I connect with what I see as a consistent Wilson vehicle in exploring the intersection of old and new. These types of conflicts that either force me to consider the other argument or at least challenge my own strong position are the most interesting aspects of drama for me to indulge."

The Arden is excited to return to this expansive work of theatre. The most contemporary of Wilson's work, August Wilson's Radio Golf is set in Pittsburgh in the late 1990s. It's the story of a successful entrepreneur who aspires to become the city's first Black mayor. But when the past begins to catch up with him, secrets get revealed that could be his undoing. This work was completed months before Wilson's death in 2005. Audiences will see connections with August Wilson's Radio Golf and the Arden's Barrymore winning production of Gem of the Ocean. August Wilson's Radio Golf was a 2007 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominee for Best Play. It was the 2007 winner of the New York Drama Critic Circle Award for Best Play.

"We are thrilled to be continuing our commitment to the work of August Wilson with Radio Golf, our fifth production of Wilson's monumental American Century Cycle," said Arden Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen. "Each of these productions was directed by different directors - Timothy Douglas (Fences), Walter Dallas (The Piano Lesson), Raelle Myrick-Hodges (Two Trains Running), and James Ijames (Gem of the Ocean) - and each brought their own unique perspective and brilliance to the work. I'm honored that Radio Golf will be directed by Kash Goins, whose 74 Seconds...To Judgment electrified Philadelphia audiences. Kash is an astonishing theatre artist - a playwright, director, producer, actor - and I am excited to see how this production will be shaped and inspired by his extraordinary artistry and passion."

The cast includes a line-up of Arden and Philadelphia favorites. Harmond Wilks is played by Kes Khemnu. His wife Mame Wilks is played by Zuhairah. Roosevelt Hicks is played by Phillip Brown. Sterling Johnson is played by Brian Anthony Wilson. Elder Joseph Barlow is played by Damien J. Wallace. Phillip Brown makes his Arden debut. The rest of the cast returns to the Arden. All of the cast has performed in Wilson's work before. For Brian Anthony Wilson, this is the 9th play in the cycle he has performed.

"This play asks some questions that I have and am very willing to continue to pose to myself many times again," said Goins. "These are around the merits and demerits of economic development, and gentrification. Also, around navigating opportunities to be the player while also avoiding being the played. It goes without saying that all of Wilson's work is an opportunity for a history lesson. If these lessons are not baked right into the text, the work tends to always inspire me to embark on a discovery journey. That opportunity is very much a part of the Radio Golf DNA"

Goins directs. The set is designed by Barrymore Winner David P. Gordon. Barrymore winner Thom Weaver is the Lighting Designer. LeVonne Lindsay is the Costume Designer. Barrymore Winner Daniel Ison is the Sound Designer. Jason Weixelman is the Stage Manager and Reva Stover is the Assistant Director.

About the Playwright

August Wilson (April 27, 1945 - October 2, 2005) authored 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 the descendants of Africans in North America, decade by decade, over the course of the twentieth century, forming the compilation entitled The American Century Cycle. His plays have been produced on Broadway, at regional theaters across the country and all over the world.

In 2003, Mr. Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned, currently touring and featuring Eugene Lee reprising Mr. Wilson's role. Mr. Wilson's works garnered many awards including: the Pulitzer Prize for Fences (1987) and for The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain's Olivier Award for Jitney; and 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 Mr. Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson.

Mr. Wilson's early works included the one-act plays The Janitor, Recycle, The Coldest Day of the Year, Malcolm X, The Homecoming and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills.

Mr. Wilson received many fellowships and awards, including the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, the Whiting Writers Award and the 2003 Heinz Award. He was awarded a 1999 National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton and received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, as well as the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and on October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theater located at 245 West 52nd Street "The August Wilson Theatre."

Today, his plays continue to be produced and his place in the American Theatre continues to grow. New York Public Radio recorded all ten plays in the The American Century Cycle at the Greene Space, casting many of the actors that worked on the original productions. PBS aired a documentary on Mr. Wilson, entitled The Ground On Which I Stand, as part of the American Masters series.

Mr. Wilson was born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and lived in Seattle, Washington at the time of his death. He is immediately survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero, who is the executor of his estate.

Honorary Producers of this production are Lee and Chris van de Velde & Sid and Ruth Rosenblatt. The Production Sponsor is Fox Chase Bank Charitable Fund.

About The Arden Theatre Company

Celebrating its 35th Anniversary Season, Arden Theatre Company, founded in 1988, is a professional theatre company in Old City, dedicated to bringing to life great stories by great storytellers on the stage, in the classroom, and in the community. To date, the Arden has produced 44 World Premieres.

The Arden has developed four distinct educational programs: Arden for All, our in-school arts education program for elementary level students; Arden Drama School, our on-site, tuition-based theatre classes for pre-K through 12th grade students; Teen Arden, our theatre enrichment program for high school students; and the Arden Professional Apprentice program, a rigorous training program for young theatre professionals.



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