Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Cygnet Theatre to Present GEM OF THE OCEAN, Beginning January 24


Cygnet Theatre will continue its 10th Anniversary Season by presenting the San Diego Premiere of August Wilson'sGem of the Ocean. The first play, chronologically, in Wilson's epic Century Cycle, Gem of the Ocean is set to perform January 24ththrough February 24th, 2013, at Cygnet's Old Town Theatre.  Press Opening is scheduled for February 2nd, 2013.

This will be Cygnet's third production from Wilson's Century Cycle. In 2008, Cygnet presented Fences at its original Rolando Theatre location.  The production was listed on many end-of-the-year top ten lists, and was named Outstanding Production by the San Diego Critics Circle. In 2010, Cygnet revisited August Wilson's work with an acclaimed production of The Piano Lesson in its current home at the Old Town Theatre.

Cygnet Artistic Director Sean Murray has tapped fellow North Carolina School of the Arts graduate Victor Mack to direct. Mack is currently appearing in King Hedley II at Portland Playhouse and has performed in severAl Wilson plays including Seven GuitarsMa Rainey's Black Bottom and Gem of the Ocean. Earlier this year, he won a Drammy Award for his direction of The Brother/Sister Plays by Tarrell Alvin McCraney. Victor's impressive and substantial body of work includes New York shows at The Public Theatre and the Manhattan Theatre Club, as well as numerous regional appearances on the west coast at such theatres as Berkley Rep, ACT, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Rep and San Jose Rep. Sean Murray will co-direct.

Set in 1904, when slavery was still a living memory, Gem of the Ocean is the story of drifter Citizen Barlow, who arrives at the home of Aunt Ester in search of spiritual redemption. At 287 years old, Aunt Ester guides Barlow on a soaring, lyrical journey of self-discovery to the mythical City of Bones, on which, Ester tells Barlow, "all this, and everything else you see is built." Once there, Barlow finds absolution and makes a startling discovery of faith that moves him to act beyond the boundaries of his conscience. Gem of the Oceanpremiered at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in the spring of 2003.  It opened on Broadway featuring Phylicia Rashad as Aunt Ester, in 2004.

The Cygnet Theatre cast features returning artists Laurence Brown (FencesThe Piano Lesson) as Citizen Barlow, Antonio TJ Johnson(Fences – SD Critics Circle Award, The MatchmakerThe Piano Lesson) as Solly Two Kings, and Grandison Phelps III (FencesThe Piano Lesson) as Eli, along with Mujahid Abdul-Rashid as Caesar Wilkes, Melva Graham as Black Mary, and Georgina Okon as Aunt Ester.  The role of Rutherford Selig is still to be cast.

The design team includes Andy Hull as Scenic Designer, Shelly Williams as Costume Designer, Chris Rhynne as Lighting Designer,Kevin Anthenill as Sound Designer, Angelica Ynfante as Properties Designer, Peter Herman as Wig and Makeup Designer.  Jennifer Kozumplik will serve as Stage Manager.

Cygnet's production of Gem of the Ocean is supported in part by a generous grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.  In addition, the NEA Art Works grant will provide for outreach events including post show forums and a presentation of Walking in The Shadows of August Wilson by Antonio TJ Johnson.  Dates and times for these events are still to be determined.

August Wilson (Playwright) - The son of a white father and a black mother, August Wilson was born Frederick August Kittel on April 27, 1945, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 10 separate plays, each covering a different decade of the 20th century, August Wilson explored the lives, dreams, triumphs and tragedies of African-American history and culture. August Wilson's series of plays brought him recognition as one of America's most celebrated dramatists and earned him numerous awards, among them the Tony Award (1985), the New York Drama Critics Circle Award (1985) and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1990). The Virginia Theater on Broadway in NYC was renamed the August Wilson Theatre in his honor in 2005, and the African American Cultural Center of Greater Pittsburgh was renamed the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in 2006.

Performances for Gem of the Ocean are January 24th through February 24th, 2013.  Show times are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm. 


Tickets can be purchased by phone at 619-337-1525, online at or by visiting the Box Office at 4040 Twiggs St.  Discounts are available for students, active-duty military, seniors and groups of 10 or more.

Related Articles View More San Diego Stories

BroadwayWorld Store

More Hot Stories For You