Staged readings of Wilson's award-winning ten-play cycle, which chronicles the African-American experience in the 20th century, will be offered in the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre through April 6. Kenny Leon is the artistic director for the project, with Todd Kreidler as associate artistic director.
The creative team for the mammoth undertaking also includes David Gallo (sets), Reggie Ray (costumes), Allen Lee Hughes (lighting) and Dwight Andrews (music supervision).
March 4 will feature a reading of Gem of the Ocean beginning at 7:30 PM. Leon directs a cast that comprises James A. Williams as Eli, John Erl Jelks as Citizen Barlow, Michele Shay as Aunt Ester, Raynor Scheine as Rutherford Selig, Anthony Chisholm as Solly Two Kings, Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Caesar and Tracie Thoms as Black Mary.
The complete schedule of readings follows:
March 4: Gem of the Ocean at 7:30 PM
March 5: Gem of the Ocean at 7:30 PM
March 6: Joe Turner's Come and Gone at 7:30 PM
March 7: Joe Turner's Come and Gone at 7:30 PM
March 8: Gem of the Ocean at 2 PM and Joe Turner's Come and Gone at 7:30 PM
March 9: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at 2 PM and 7:30 PM
March 11: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at 7:30 PM
March 12: The Piano Lesson at 7:30 PM
March 13: The piano Lesson at 7:30 PM
March 14: Seven Guitars at 7:30 PM
March 15: Seven Guitars at 2 PM and The Piano Lesson at 7:30 PM
March 16: Seven Guitars at 2 PM and Fences at 7:30 PM
March 18: Fences at 7:30 PM
March 19: Fences at 7:30 PM
March 20: Two Trains Running at 7:30 PM
March 21: Two Trains Running at 7:30 PM
March 22: Jitney at 2 and 7:30 PM
March 23: King Hedley at 2 and 7:30 PM
March 25: Two Trains Running at 7:30 PM
March 26: Jitney at 7:30 PM
March 27: King Hedley II at 7:30 PM
March 28: Radio Golf at 7:30 PM
March 29: Radio Golf at 2 and 7:30 PM
March 30: Gem of the Ocean at 2 PM and Joe Turner's Come and Gone at 7:30 PM
April 1: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at 7:30 PM
April 2: The Piano Lesson at 7:30 PM
April 3: Seven Guitars at 7:30 PM
April 4: Fences at 7:30 PM
April 5: Two Trains Running at 2 PM and Jitney at 7:30 PM
April 6: King Hedley II at 2 PM and Radio Golf at 7:30 PM
Casting and directors for each of the readings follow: Directed by Kenny Leon, Gem of the Ocean (set in the 1900s) features James A. Williams as Eli, John Earl Jelks as Citizen Barlow, Michele Shay as Aunt Ester, Raynor Scheine as Rutherford Selig, Anthony Chisholm as Solly Two Kings, Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Caesar and Tracie Thoms as Black Mary.
Directed by Todd Kreidler, Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1910s) features Eugene Lee as Seth Holly, LaTanya Richardson Jackson as Bertha Holly, Keith David as Bynum Walker, Raynor Scheine as Rutherford Selig, Montae Russell as Jeremy Furlow, Russell Hornsby as Herald Loomis, Dominique Ross as Zonia Loomis, Cherise Boothe as Mattie Campbell, Terrance Thomas as Reuben Mercer, Michole Briana White as Molly Cunningham and Rosalyn Coleman as Martha Pentecost.
Lou Bellamy directs Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1920s), which features Raynor Scheine as Sturdyvant, Jerry Whiddon as Irvin, Harry Lennix as Cutler, Roger Robinson as Toledo, James A. Williams as Slow Drag, Anthony Mackie as Levee, Ebony Jo-Ann as Ma Rainey, Jeff Allin as Policeman, Rosalyn Coleman as Dussie Mae and Eric Berryman as Sylvester.
The Piano Lesson (1930s), with direction by Kenny Leon, features Bill Nunn as Doaker, Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Boy Willie, Jason Dirden as Lymon, Heather Alicia Simms as Berniece, Alexandra Brooke Perrin as Maretha, Afemo Omilami as Avery, Stephen McKinley Henderson as Wining Boy and Cherise Boothe as Grace.
The cast of Seven Guitars (1940s), under the direction of Derrick Sanders, includes LaTanya Richardson Jackson as Louise, Russell Hornsby as Canewell, Harry Lennix as Red Carter, Vanessa Bell Calloway as Vera, Afemo Omilami as Hedley, Keith David as Floyd Barton and Crystal Fox as Ruby.
Fences (1950s) stars Louis Gossett, Jr. as Troy Maxson, Bill Nunn as Jim Bono, Tamara Tunie as Rose, Montae Russell as Lyons, Hassan El-Amin as Gabriel, Anthony Mackie as Cory and Autumn Malhotra as Raynell. Kenny Leon directs.
The Israel Hicks-directed Two Trains Running (1960s) features Glynn Turman as Memphis, Russell Hornsby as Wolf, Michole Briana White as Risa, Stephen McKinley Henderson as Holloway, John Earl Jelks as Sterling, Hassan El-Amin as Hambone as Eugene Lee as West.
Jitney (1970s), directed by Gordon Davidson, includes Anthony Mackie as Youngblood, John Beasley as Turnbo, Anthony Chisolm as Fielding, Eugene Lee as Doub, Afemo Omilami as Shealy, Montae Russell as Philmore, Paul Butler as Becker, Roslyn Ruff as Rena and Hassan El-Amin as Booster.
The King Hedley II (1980s) company, directed by Derrick Sanders, features Russell Hornsby as King Hedley II, Lynda Gravátt as Ruby, John Earl Jelks as Mister, Stephen MicKinley Henderson as Elmore, Heather Alicia Simms as Tonya and James A. Williams as Stool Pigeon.
Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the Radio Golf (1990s) company comprises Harry Lennix as Harmond Wilks, Michole Briana White as Mame Wilks, James A. Williams as Roosevelt Hicks, John Earl Jelks as Sterling Johnson and Anthony Chisholm as Elder Joseph Barlow.
August Wilson (April 27, 1945-Oct. 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 African Americans, decade-by-decade, over the course of the 20th century. Wilson's plays have been produced at regional theatres across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. In 2003, Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. Wilson's works garnered many awards, including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987); and for The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain's Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as 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.
For more information visit www.kennedy-center.org.