Pittsburgh Public Theater to Stage Production of TWO TRAINS RUNNING

The show is set to play from June 1st through June 19th.

By: May. 29, 2022
Pittsburgh Public Theater to Stage Production of TWO TRAINS RUNNING

Local history, legendary language, and blockbuster performances take center stage this June in Pittsburgh Public Theater's highly anticipated production of August Wilson's Two Trains Running at the O'Reilly Theater, June 1-19, 2022. Directed by The Public's Resident Director Justin Emeka, the cast features Melessie Clark, Brian D. Coats, Ananias J. Dixon, Justin Emeka, Wali Jamal, Brenden Peifer, and Brian Starks creating a masterful ensemble. Two Trains Running is presented by Highmark.

"It's an honor to have August Wilson's muscular, poetic words back on The O'Reilly stage in Two Trains Running, especially in the hands of this deft company of artists lead by Justin Emeka and featuring some of the most talented, charismatic, daring performers in the city. We look forward to celebrating them and Mr. Wilson's groundbreaking work with a Juneteenth feast on our stage after the closing performance. We will dance and break bread on the set of the play, exalting the spirit of this work while it is still fresh on our minds and in our hearts."

Director Justin Emeka explains, "August Wilson is one of my biggest inspirations. One of the reasons that I'm in theater is because of his voice and because of his spirit that still continues to resonate. I'm looking forward to bringing his work to Pittsburgh, bringing it back home to old audiences, to new audiences and really setting a tone for a national conversation around what his work means in the 21st century."


By August Wilson
Directed by Justin Emeka

In 1969, as the civil rights movement ignites across America, Memphis faces a battle of his own in Pittsburgh where the city wants to raze his Hill District restaurant for an urban renewal project. As the world faces rapid change, Memphis and his regular customers fight to keep a sense of order and dignity as they each take a leap of faith. Some of them bet on love, or luck, or justice. And some of them only trust the mystical advice of a 349-year-old Aunt Ester in this wise, funny, and achingly beautiful play that's brimming with local history and legendary language.

Starring Melessie Clark as Risa, Brian D. Coats as Memphis, Ananias J. Dixon as Hambone, Justin Emeka as Holloway, Wali Jamal as West, Brenden Peifer as Sterling, Brian Starks as Wolf, and Richard McBride & Mia Sterbini as Production Understudies.

The creative team is comprised of Justin Emeka as Director, Richard Morris, Jr. as Scenic Designer, Alethia Moore-Del Monaco as Costume Designer, Sherrice Mojgani as Lighting Designer, Angela Baughman as Sound Designer, and Ruby Fludzinski as Assistant Director. Thomas Dieter is the Production Stage Manager and Ashley Southers and Taylor Meszaros are the Assistant Production Stage Managers.


Pittsburgh Public Theater will host a series of events to complement to production of Two Trains Running. After the final performance on June 19, the company will host a Juneteeth celebration on the stage.

August Wilson Archives Panel Discussions | Sunday, June 5 | 5:00-5:30pm, following the matinee performance

The University of Pittsburgh Library System recently acquired the archive of native Pittsburgh playwright August Wilson, which will open for research use in January 2023. Staff from Archives & Special Collections will talk about their experience working with the archive and what types of material it contains, especially as it relates to Wilson's play, Two Trains Running. The archive not only documents all ten of his American Century Cycle Plays, but also several unpublished writing projects and poetry. Staff will highlight specific content in the August Wilson Archive, such as his extensive writing notepads. They will also discuss preservation challenges and the many ways that various audiences will be able to engage with the archive.

Actor Talkback | Sunday, June 12 | 5:00-5:30pm, following the matinee performance

Director of Education & Engagement Parag S. Gohel will facilitate an audience-centered discussion with the actors. Fielding questions from the audience, he will engage the actors in a dialogue about their processes, experiences, and insights they gained while preparing for their roles and the discoveries they made that enriched to their performances.

The Meaning of Juneteenth and August Wilson's 100-year journey to Freedom | Friday, June 17 | 2:00pm | Part of TCG National Conference

Two Trains Running Director Justin Emeka and actor Wali Jamal will participate in a panel conversation on what Juneteenth represents and share thoughts about it recently becoming a national holiday. Panel members will then move on to discussing how August Wilson's ten plays represent the long journey and struggle for Black people still searching for freedom in the 20th century and the role art and theater continues to play in achieving personal and collective freedoms.

The panel will include Caroline Jackson-Smith, Oberlin College (moderator); Wali Jamal, Pittsburgh-based Actor; Justin Emeka Pittsburgh Public Theater Resident Director/Oberlin College; Dr. Cristal Chanelle Truscott, Northwestern University; and E.G. Bailey, Minneapolis-based Director/Artist.

Juneteenth Celebration | Sunday, June 19 | 5:00-8:00pm, following the matinee performance

Pittsburgh Public Theater is excited to honor Juneteenth as a true celebration. At the closing of the final performance of Two Trains Running, the audience is invited to feast and break bread with the cast, crew, and company. Catered by Sugar x Butter, the Summer BBQ menu will include Honey Fried Chicken Tenders, Baby Back Ribs, Black Eyed Pea Salad, Mac N Cheese Bowls, Sweet Corn on the Cob, Coconut Cake Slices, Chocolate Chip Cookies, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. More than fantastic food and company, the celebration with feature the incomparable song stylings of Etta Cox and her quartet.


Tuesdays 7:00 pm

Wednesdays 8:00 pm

Thursdays 2:00 pm* & 8:00 pm

Fridays 8:00 pm

Saturdays 2:00 pm* & 8:00 pm

Sundays 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm*

*Select dates.

Complete performance schedule is available at ppt.org/twotrains.


Tickets start at $32 and are available online at ppt.org/twotrains, by phone at 412.316.1600 or by visiting the O'Reilly Theater Box Office. Discounts for groups of 10 or more are available by calling Jacob at 412.315.8821 or emailing groupsales@ppt.org. 26 and younger/full-time students just $16.50 with promo code HOTTIX. (Valid ID required.) Media tickets available for Opening Night, Saturday, June 4 by contacting Roya at rkousari@ppt.org or 412.316.8200 ext.715.


Because of our intimate seating set-up and the in-the-round staging of our productions, masks are required inside the O'Reilly Theater. For those taking additional precautions, the 8:00 performance on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 requires attendees to wear masks and show proof of vaccination.

The most up-to-date COVID-19 health and safety protocols and requirements are available at ppt.org/health.