Cast and Creative Team Announced for August Wilson's SEVEN GUITARS at Arena Stage

7 lives are interconnected when old friend and blues singer Floyd Barton vows to turn his life around after a surprise windfall leaves him hopeful for a second chance.

By: Oct. 20, 2021
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Cast and Creative Team Announced for August Wilson's SEVEN GUITARS at Arena Stage

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater has announced the cast and creative team for Tony Award-nominated August Wilson's Seven Guitars, directed by Tazewell Thompson (Arena's Jubilee). Set in 1940s Pittsburgh, seven lives are interconnected when old friend and blues singer Floyd Barton vows to turn his life around after a surprise windfall leaves him hopeful for a second chance.

Seven Guitars is August Wilson's fifth play in his American Century Cycle. This show runs November 26 - December 26, 2021 in the Fichandler Stage. Press night for Seven Guitars will be held on Thursday, December 2, 2021.

"Having directed August Wilson's Fences and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, both at Arena Stage, I'm happy to return with August Wilson's Seven Guitars," explains Thompson. "Wilson is an extraordinary master storyteller and playwright - spinning yarns of African Americans and their rhythms and cycles of life, love, pain, suffering, ecstasy and joy; painting a big picture of his people's courage and folly; capturing their heartbeat and heartache; using his deep and wide imaginative soulful toolbox of blues and jazzy poetic idioms."

"To create great theater, you need great artists and great writers," shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. "Tazewell Thompson is one of America's best directors, whose beautiful ear for language inspires stellar performances. His elegant approach to 'in the round' work is a perfect complement to August Wilson's plays that address specific American issues in an eloquent and deeply meaningful way. He tells deeply human, complicated stories that resonate with magic and hope."

Returning to Arena Stage are Dane Figueroa Edidi (Choreographer for Arena's Nina Simone: Four Women) as Ruby, Joy Jones (Arena's Jubilee) as Vera, David Emerson Toney (Arena's Two Trains Running) as Hedley and Michael Anthony Williams (Arena's King Hedley II) as Canewell.

Making their Arena Stage debuts are Roderick Lawrence (National Tour, Disney's The Lion King) as Floyd Barton and Roz White (Mosaic Theater Company's Marie and Rosetta) as Louise. Additional casting will be announced at a later time.

In addition to Thompson, the creative team includes Set Designer Donald Eastman, Costume Designer Harry Nadal, Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel, Sound Designer Fabian Obispo, Wig Designer Anne Nesmith, Fight Director Ron Piretti, Stage Manager Marne Anderson and Assistant Stage Manager Emily Ann Mellon.

August Wilson (Playwright)'s plays include Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson (Pulitzer Prize winner), Seven Guitars, Fences (Pulitzer Prize winner, Tony Award winner), Two Trains Running, Jitney (Olivier Award winner), King Hedley II and Radio Golf. In 2003, he made his stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. He received an Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay The Piano Lesson. Other works include The Janitor, Recycle, The Coldest Day of the Year, Malcolm X, The Homecoming and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills. Other awards include eight New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, a Whiting Writers Award, 2003 Heinz Award, 1999 National Humanities Medal and induction into the Theater Hall of Fame.

Tazewell Thompson (Director) is an internationally acclaimed theater and opera director, award-winning playwright, teacher and actor. He has more than 125 directing credits, and many world and American premieres, in major opera houses and theaters: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Africa, Japan, Canada and the USA. He served as associate artistic director under Zelda Fichandler and has directed and/or written over 20 productions at Arena Stage, the most recent, his a cappella musical, Jubilee. His award-winning play, Constant Star, has had 16 productions in major theaters across the country and his play Mary T. & Lizzy K., commissioned by and produced at Arena Stage, is the recipient of The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. His production of Porgy and Bess, broadcast live from Lincoln Center, received Emmy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Production. He holds the record of directing three productions - Appomattox/ Philip Glass, Lost in the Stars/ Kurt Weill and Cato in Utica/ Vivaldi - all in the same season in three different theaters at The Kennedy Center. His opera Blue (librettist) with composer Jeanine Tesori, commissioned by Francesca Zambello, had its world premiere July 2019 at Glimmerglass Festival, followed by productions at Washington National Opera, June 2020 at The Lyric Opera of Chicago and February 2021 at Minnesota Opera.

Post-Show Conversations


Connect with our shows beyond the performance at a post-show conversation on Thursday, December 9, featuring guests Dr. Sandra Shannon, Howard University Professor Emerita and founder and president of the August Wilson Society, and Riley Temple, scholar, theologian and author of Aunt Ester's Children Redeemed: Journeys to Freedom in August Wilson's Ten Plays of Twentieth-Century Black America.

PRODUCTION INFORMATION

August Wilson's Seven Guitars
Directed by Tazewell Thompson
In the Fichandler Stage | November 26 - December 26, 2021

ABOUT: The lives of seven friends are irrevocably changed when their old friend and blues singer Floyd Barton reappears with a chance of a lifetime. Infused with deep and soaring blues rhythms, this "rich and exceptionally vivid" (Variety) play pits the determination for a better future against life's harsh realities, ultimately leading to heartbreaking and inescapable circumstances. Director Tazewell Thompson returns to Arena Stage to direct August Wilson's Seven Guitars - the fifth play in Wilson's American Century Cycle.

CAST:
Ruby: Dane Figueroa Edidi
Vera: Joy Jones
Floyd Barton: Roderick Lawrence
Hedley: David Emerson Toney
Louise: Roz White
Canewell: Michael Anthony Williams
Voice Actor: Edmund Bradley

CREATIVE TEAM:
Written by: August Wilson
Director: Tazewell Thompson
Set Designer: Donald Eastman
Costume Designer: Harry Nadal
Lighting Designer: Robert Wierzel
Sound Designer: Fabian Obispo
Wig Designer: Anne Nesmith
Fight Director: Ron Piretti
Stage Manager: Marne Anderson
Assistant Stage Manager: Emily Ann Mellon

TICKETS: Tickets for Seven Guitars are $40-95, subject to change and based on availability, plus applicable fees. For information on savings programs such as pay-your-age tickets, student discounts, Southwest Nights and hero's discounts, visit arenastage.org/tickets/savings-programs.

Tickets may be purchased online at arenastage.org, by phone at 202-488-3300 or at the Sales Office at 1101 Sixth Street, SW, D.C. The Sales Office is open Tuesday - Sunday, 12:00-8:00 for phone purchases and beginning 90 minutes prior to each performance until curtain for in-person purchases. Please note that proof of vaccination against COVID-19 and photo identification must be shown to enter the building.

Sales Office/Subscriptions: 202-488-3300
Group Sales Hotline for 10+ Tickets: 202-488-4380 TTY for deaf patrons: 202-484-0247
Info for patrons with disabilities: 202-488-3300

PERFORMANCE DATES:
Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday at 7:30 p.m.*

Friday & Saturday at 8 p.m.**

Saturday & Sunday at 2 p.m. (excludes Saturday, November 27 and Sunday, December 19)
Weekday matinees at noon on Wednesday, December 15 and Tuesday, December 21
*Sunday, December 19 at 6 p.m. only

**Friday December 24 at 2 p.m. only

No shows on Saturday, December 25

Open-captioned performance: December 15 at 7:30 p.m. and December 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Audio-described performance: December 11 at 2 p.m.
Southwest Night: December 24 at 8 p.m.

Full Calendar: arenastage.org/tickets/calendar

STAY SAFE: Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 and photo identification must be shown to enter the building. Arena Stage is requiring that patrons, staff and volunteers wear facial masks inside the Mead Center regardless of vaccination status. Enhanced cleaning and sanitization will take place throughout the building. For superior air quality, we have upgraded our ventilation/filtration systems and have implemented a full digital ticketing system that will include contactless ticket scanning and digital programs. These conditions are subject to change. For the latest information, visit arenastage.org/staysafe.

For complete 2021/22 Season details, visit: arenastage.org/tickets/2122-subscriptions



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