All-star readings of August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle of plays will be recorded for broadcast and institutional use
July 3, 2013 7:15 AM
Pittsburgh Public Theater
From left: Anthony Chisholm as Fielding, Stephen McKinley Henderson as Turnbo and Cortez Nance Jr. as Doub in the 1996 production of "Jitney" at Pittsburgh Public Theater.
August Wilson (right) with Anthony Chisholm during rehearsal of Wilson's "Radio Golf" at Yale University in 2005. The actor will participate in recordings of Wilson's 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle.
By Sharon Eberson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
August Wilson's plays chronicling African-American life in the 20th century and specifically in Pittsburgh's Hill District will be performed as readings by all-star casts to make the first recording of all 10 works.
Phylicia Rashad, Leslie Uggams, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Kenny Leon, Anthony Chisholm, S. Epatha Merkerson, Jesse L. Martin, Taraji P. Henson and other actors and directors, most having have previously interpreted Wilson's works, will perform one reading per night, Aug. 26 through Sept. 28, in the order they plays were written. The project at New York Public Radio's Jerome L. Greene Performance Space is a co-production of WNYC and WQXR, in partnership with The August Wilson Estate.
The master recordings will remain at New York Public Radio and certain selections will be played on news/talk WNYC in January 2014 and will be made available to public radio stations around the country.
"Copies of the recordings will be placed in various cultural and educational organizations. We are still finalizing those relationships," said New York Public Radio spokeswoman Jennifer Houlihan Roussel.
Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company this summer achieved the distinction of performing full productions of all 10 plays -- known in some circles as the American Century Cycle or the Pittsburgh Cycle in others -- one each in each of the company's 10 seasons.
The late playwright is a Pittsburgh native who won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama (for "Fences" and "The Piano Lesson"). All but the first play in the cycle, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," take place here.
The schedule: "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," Aug. 26; "Fences," Aug. 28; "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," Sept. 4; "The Piano Lesson," Sept. 9; "Two Trains Running," Sept. 11; "Seven Guitars," Sept. 13; "Jitney," Sept. 16; "King Hedley II," Sept. 21; "Gem of the Ocean," Sept. 24; "Radio Golf," Sept. 28. For more information, visit www.thegreenespace.org.