Kennedy Center's Wilson Celebration Extends a Week; New Directors and Design Team Named

News   Kennedy Center's Wilson Celebration Extends a Week; New Directors and Design Team Named
The upcoming celebration of the work of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has been extended by a week.

As previously reported, Wilson's ten-play cycle, which chronicles the African-American experience in the 20th century, will be offered in the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre. August Wilson's 20th Century, which was originally scheduled to play the Terrace March 4-29, 2008, will now run through April 6. One additional performance of each of the playwright's ten plays will be given, allowing Wilson fans the chance to catch entire cycle in only eight days.

Two additional directors have also been added to the six-week-long event, which will feature staged readings with costumes, lighting and scenery. Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Israel Hicks, chairman of the theatre arts program at Rutgers University, are the new directors; Santiago-Hudson will direct Wilson's final play, Radio Golf, while Hicks will stage Two Trains Running.

(Kenny Leon will direct the readings of Gem of the Ocean, Fences and The Piano Lesson. Lou Bellamy, the artistic director of Minneapolis' Penumbra Theatre, will direct Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, while Tony winner Gordon Davidson will direct Jitney. Todd Kreidler, the associate artistic director of Atlanta's True Colors Theater Company, will helm Joe Turner's Come and Gone, and Derrick Sanders — artistic director of Chicago's Congo Square Theatre — will direct Seven Guitars and King Hedley II.)

The creative team for the mammoth undertaking has also been revealed. Designers include David Gallo (sets), Reggie Ray (costumes) and Allen Lee Hughes (lighting).

Complete casting will be announced shortly. Among those already scheduled to appear are Anthony Chisholm, Lynda Gravátt, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Eugene Lee and Phylicia Rashad. 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.

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