"Important and defining moments occur in the theatre and in our lives, and this is one of them," stated incoming artistic director David Esbjornson about the change. "August Wilson, one of America's literary treasures and a Seattle resident, is currently facing a significant challenge. An opportunity suddenly arose to work with our colleagues at the Mark Taper Forum to bring to Seattle, and take to other U.S. cities, the Kenny Leon-directed production of Radio Golf. It seems imperative that Seattle Rep respond to the recent events in Mr. Wilson's life and support this beloved artist in any way possible." (As previously reported, the playwright Wilson has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.)
The addition of Radio Golf to the schedule (for a Jan. 19-Feb. 18, 2006 run) will shift the previously announced world premiere of Neil Simon's Rewrites to the 2006-07 season, announced the Washington stage.
With Radio Golf, Wilson ends his ten-play cycle which chronicles the African American experience in the twentieth century decade by decade. The 1990s-set work involves real estate developers who look to tear down the home of recurring Wilson character Aunt Esther.
Radio Golf previously ran at Yale Repertory Theatre under the direction of Timothy Douglas. The work will be seen at the Center Theatre Group's Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles July 31-Sept. 18.
For the L.A. Run, original cast members Anthony Chisolm, John Earl Jelks and James A. Williams will return to reprise their roles for the upcoming Los Angeles run. They are joined by Denise Burse (An American Daughter) and Rocky Carroll (The Piano Lesson). Kenny Leon — who staged Wilson's Gem of the Ocean and the revival of A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway — directs. The other plays in Wilson's grand undertaking (in order of decade which the drama is set) include 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 and King Hedley II.
Seattle Rep has previously produced the complete cycle with the exception of Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wilson also made his acting debut at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in 2003 with The August Wilson Project (working title: How I Learned What I Learned) — a solo work in which the scribe drew upon his life for stories about the struggle of an artist who is "at the crossroads of black and white culture."
Tickets currently held for Rewrites will be honored for Radio Golf according to the company. No exchanges are necessary. Single tickets for Radio Golf are now on sale by phone at (206) 443-2222, in person at 155 Mercer Street (the northwest corner of Seattle Center) in Seattle, WA or online at www.seattlerep.org.
Seattle Rep productions play at the Washington state company's mainstage Bagley Wright Theatre and more intimate The Leo K. Theatre. The current season lineup is as follows (subject to change):
Tuesdays with Morrie by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom (April 8-May 7, 2006) Subscriptions to the new season at Seattle Repertory Theatre, at 155 Mercer Street in Seattle, WA, are on sale now by calling (206) 443-2222, 1-877-900-9285 (toll free) or online at www.seatttlerep.org.