Goodman Theatre, in collaboration with Chicago’s various off-Loop theaters and Northwestern University, has unveiled partial programming in its spring 2015 citywide “August Wilson Celebration”—an extensive retrospective of the late playwright’s life, artistry and influence on American culture. The seven-week celebration takes place in March and April 2015 on dual landmark occasions: the 70th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s birth and the 10th anniversary of his death.
Goodman’s resident director, Chuck Smith, curates programming in communities throughout Chicago, together with Wilson’s wife and frequent collaborator Constanza Romero; actor/director Ron OJ Parson; and Northwestern University professor and critic Harvey Young. The first theater in the world to produce every play in Wilson’s 10-play cycle exploring the 20th Century African American experience, the Goodman, with partnering organizations, will pay tribute to and explore the enduring impact of the legendary playwright The New York Times called the “theater’s poet of Black America.”
“No artistic collaborator of the past 90 years has been more important to the Goodman than playwright August Wilson,” said Goodman Theatre’s artistic director, Robert Falls. “His work was first seen by Goodman audiences in 1986 with Fences, starring James Earl Jones. Over the next 20 years, the Goodman became a primary artistic home to Wilson and the birthplace of two world-premiere productions, Seven Guitars and Gem of the Ocean. Chuck Smith, who directed our memorable production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in 1997 and has the distinction of serving as August’s dramaturg on Gem of the Ocean, has assembled a powerhouse line-up that promises to make the celebration a major American cultural event of 2015.”
The August Wilson Celebration will feature: a major revival of Two Trains Running at Goodman Theatre; one-night-only free readings of the other nine plays in the 20th Century Cycle at off-Loop theaters and community venues; a discussion of the female characters in August Wilson’s work, featuring Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad and hosted by Tony Award nominee Michele Shay; actor/playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson performing Wilson’s autobiographical How I Learned What I Learned and much, much more.
For more information about the upcoming August Wilson Celebration, visit GoodmanTheatre.org.
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
Legendary playwright August Wilson