The April 8, first preview performance of August Wilson's Jitney at Off Broadway's Second Stage Theatre will benefit a cause close to the playwright's heart: the African Grove Institute for the Arts, the African American theatre advocacy organization formed in 1998 by the playwright and Dartmouth College professors Victor Walker and William Cook.
Among the high-profile honorary Chairs for the benefit are film stars Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne and Danny Glover, plus tap master Savion Glover and actors Delroy Lindo and Phylicia Rashad.
AGIA hosts regional and local seminars throughout the United States with the goal of strengthening African-American theatre companies by helping them identify and overcome artistic and financial problems. Theatre summits have been held in New England, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago with a regional conference planned for fall 2000 in the midwest.
Jitney, the first play written by Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wilson, offers a look into 1970s Pittsburgh and the lives of a group of black men scraping out a living in a gypsy cab company (or jitney station). The play's central character (Charles Becker) is the owner of the unlicensed company who must deal with the city's plan to board up his business. He's also thrown by his son's return after 20 years in prison. Other Wilson works include Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars and Fences.
Tickets are $500 and $300. The Second Stage Theatre is located at 681 8th Avenue at 43rd Street. For reservations, call (973) 412-1907. -- By Christine Ehren
and David Lefkowitz