August Wilson Center adds Southers to theater post
Mark Clayton Southers, founder of the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, has been hired as artistic director for theater initiative at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.
Bringing Mr. Southers into the fold furthers the mission of the center, said its CEO, Andre Kimo Stone Guess.
"We're a one of a kind institution with a hybrid position in all art forms ... but most noted is theater because of the name of the institution. One thing we want to do in a meaningful way is tie all the forms together. We have resident companies like the dance ensemble and the jazz orchestra ... and someone like Mark can chart our course of what our theater initiatives will be; not only in planning with [program director Shaunda Miles] and myself, but also help execute that as well."
The salaried staff position does not preclude Mr. Southers from continuing as producing artistic director with Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, he said, "although I'm sure there will be some transition."
Mr. Southers, 48, counts August Wilson as a mentor and has been keen about producing a play from the late playwright's Pittsburgh Cycle annually at the theater.
That connection was among Mr. Southers' calling cards for the job at the August Wilson center, which has a 486-seat performance venue.
The new position marks a milestone for the writer/director/producer, who has quit his job as a mill worker for U.S. Steel after 19 years and will now devote himself to the arts full-time.
"Everything is coming together," said Mr. Southers, a Hill District native who attended Schenley High School. "Mr. Guess is just a dynamic individual, and this is a great opportunity."
He founded the Pittsburgh Playwrights company in Garfield eight years ago to develop and showcase works of local playwrights while supporting racial and cultural diversity in the theater. The company has resided in a 75-seat venue at Penn Avenue, Downtown, since 2005.
"One of our goals is find ways to reach out through the arts from local to regional to national and international and bring that back to Pittsburgh again," Mr. Guess said. "When you mention Mark and his connection to August Wilson, you know that's the right fit."
First Published November 20, 2010 5:24 pm