New York Public Radio

The Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR Announces Dates, Directors and Select Cast for First-Ever Recordings of the Entire August Wilson American Century Cycle

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The Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR Announces

Dates, Directors and Select Cast for First-Ever Recordings

of the Entire August Wilson American Century Cycle

 

Historic Recordings Bring Together Many Wilson Players and Longtime Collaborators including

RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON, PHYLICIA RASHAD,

STEPHEN MCKINLEY HENDERSON, S. EPATHA MERKERSON,

KENNY LEON, LESLIE UGGAMS, MARION MCCLINTON,

BRANDON DIRDEN, ANTHONY CHISHOLM, ROSLYN RUFF,

as well as TARAJI P. HENSON and JESSE L. MARTIN in their first Wilson roles

 

Staged Readings of All 10 Plays to Be Recorded

in Front of Live Studio Audiences

Monday, August 26 - Saturday, September 28

 

**Tickets go on sale TODAY**

 

Lincoln Motor Company Joins Project as Signature Sponsor

 

(New York, NY – July 1, 2013) – The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC and WQXR, the state-of-the-art venue of the nation’s most listened-to news/talk and classical public radio stations, will make history this fall when it creates, for the first time, exclusive recordings of all 10 of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle Plays.

 

Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the Artistic Director of the project, and Indira Etwaroo, the Executive Producer today announced that the series will kick off with Wilson’s Tony-nominated MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM on Monday, August 26 and conclude with RADIO GOLF on Saturday, September 28

 

Through the support of Signature Sponsor Lincoln Motor Company and other funders, the plays will be presented in the order they originally premiered at The Greene Space, an intimate performance space and broadcast studio in Downtown Manhattan, in front of live studio audiences

 

TICKETS GO ON SALE TODAY at 9AM AT WWW.THEGREENESPACE.ORG. The full schedule is below.

 

The August Wilson American Century Cycle recording series has assembled theater artists composed almost entirely of “Wilson Warriors,” directors and actors who have worked on an August Wilson production previously -- including some who worked with Wilson personally -- to participate in this unprecedented project.  The recordings will preserve the musicality and style of African American cultural expression that Wilson so eloquently captured.  

 

Some of the foremost Wilson interpreters have signed on to direct, including Tony nominee KENNY LEON, Tony winner PHYLICIA RASHAD, MICHELE SHAY, and MARION MCCLINTON, as well as close Wilson collaborators Tony winner SANTIAGO-HUDSON and Tony nominee STEPHEN MCKINLEY HENDERSON, who also serves as the Associate Artistic Director of the project.

 

The readings will feature many actors reprising the roles they performed on stage, including Tony Award winner LESLIE UGGAMS as Ruby in King Hedley II;  Drama Desk and Obie Award winner ANTHONY CHISHOLM (Oz, Premium Rush) as Fielding in Jitney and Elder Barlow in Radio Golf; BRANDON DIRDEN (The Big C, House of Payne) in his Obie Award-winning role as Boy Willie in The Piano Lesson; RUSSELL HORNSBY (Grimm, Shameless) as King Hedley in King Hedley II; Emmy Award winner KEITH DAVID (Crash, Armageddon) as Seth Holly in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone; EBONY JO-ANN as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON as Canewell in Seven Guitars; JOHN EARL JELKS as Sterling Johnson in Radio Golf; ROSLYN RUFF (Rachel Getting Married, The Help) as Berniece in The Piano Lesson, among others.

 

Other Wilson actors will take on new roles, including Tony Award nominee S. EPATHA MERKERSON (Law & Order, Lincoln) as Bertha in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and WENDELL PIERCE (Treme, The Wire) as Red Carter in Seven Guitars.

 

Academy Award nominee TARAJI P. HENSON (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Person of Interest) and JESSE L. MARTIN (Law & Order, Rent) will make their Wilson debuts as Molly Cunningham in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Lyons in Fences, respectively.

 

The readings will be scored with original music by Grammy-nominated composer Bill Sims, Jr. and other composers who worked with Wilson.  The recordings will be audio produced by award-winning writer, librettist and audio theater director, Arthur Yorinks.

 

The Ford Foundation is the lead philanthropic funder of the August Wilson American Century Cycle Recording Project.

 

“This landmark recording of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle is the kind of project we hoped for when we launched The Greene Space five years ago,” said Laura Walker, CEO and President, New York Public Radio. “It’s an honor that the August Wilson Estate has placed such confidence in us, and we are grateful to the Lincoln Motor Company and the Ford Foundation for their support on this project.”

 

“It has taken years to get to this moment,” said Indira Etwaroo, Executive Producer, who conceptualized this project and worked with Constanza Romero, Executor of the Estate and Wilson’s widow to secure the rights to record all 10 plays. “Wilson’s American Century Cycle captures 100 years of African American life through the searing, poetic, personal stories of everyday people. The significance of it all coming to fruition during the year of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington is not lost on any of us. In recording these works, we are chronicling the history of a whole people, as written by a man who understood that ‘”it must remain for us a history of triumph.’”

 

“It’s an extraordinary responsibility to lead this historic undertaking of documenting and preserving for generations to come not just the words, but the sound of August’s majestic ode to African American life in the 20th Century,” said Santiago-Hudson. “For those of us who had the privilege to work on a Wilson project while he was alive, it was life-changing. Stephen (McKinley Henderson) and I are deeply touched that so many who knew and collaborated with Wilson have stepped forward to join us on this extraordinary tribute to our hero. He was a man, a writer, an artist who forever changed the landscape of American theater.”

  

“Lincoln’s spirit is rooted in individuality and creativity,” said Shawn Thompson, Lincoln Multicultural Marketing Manager. “This partnership allows us to continue in our efforts to celebrate visionaries and create a like-minded community. We recently announced the Lincoln Reimagine Project™ as a way to collaborate with, sponsor and support culturally progressive individuals and their vision for making old new again through a celebration of all things reinvented. Our involvement with The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space on the August Wilson American Century Cycle readings is yet another opportunity for us to continue in our efforts while also introducing our new premium midsize sedan, the 2013 MKZ to this audience.”

 

Cultural partners from around the country include Yale Repertory Theatre (New Haven, CT), The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York, NY), Signature Theatre (New York, NY), Two Rivers Theatre (Red Bank, NJ), True Colors Theatre Company (Atlanta, GA), Seattle Repertory Theater Company (Seattle, WA), and Portland Stage (Portland, ME).

 

New York City Department of Education’s Theater Department will partner with The Greene Space to enable public school students to experience the first recording sessions of these readings. Many will also participate in a pre-show workshop to explore Wilson’s contributions to the American theater canon. 

 

 

*  *  *

 

TICKETS / VIDEO WEBCASTS / RADIO BROADCASTS

Tickets are $40, and may be purchased at www.thegreenespace.org.

 

Viewers across the country and around the world will be able to watch via live video webcasts at www.thegreenespace.org.  Cultural partner Two Rivers Theater in Red Bank, NJ, home to many productions of August Wilson plays, will also offer live video webcasts at www.trtc.org.

 

WNYC 93.9 FM will broadcast select recordings on Sundays, beginning in January 2014. WNYC will also make the recordings plays available for radio broadcast on other public radio stations.

 

 

 

SCHEDULE

 

All readings start at 7pm at The Greene Space, 44 Charlton Street (at Varick Street), Downtown Manhattan.

 

Additional casting, as well as a conversation series featuring Wilson theater artists, historians, scholars and performers, will be announced shortly.

 

Ma Rainey’s Black BottomMonday, August 26

Directed by Ruben Santiago Hudson

 

David Margulies…………………………...Sturdyvant

Tuck Milligan…………………………………….Irvin

Charles Weldon………………………………...Cutler

Clarke Peters…………………………………..Toledo

Harvy Blanks……………………………....Slow Drag

Ebony Jo-Ann…………………………..…Ma Rainey

Joniece Abbott-Pratt………………..…….Dussie Mae

Jonathan Majors………………………..…... Sylvester

 

 

FencesWednesday, August 28

Directed by Kenny Leon

 

Eugene Lee………………………………… Jim Bono

Jesse L. Martin………………………………….Lyons

Ray Anthony Thomas………………………….Gabriel

Jonathan Majors………………………………….Cory

Regina Taylor…………………………………….Rose

 

 

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone– Wednesday, September 4

Directed by Phylicia Rashad

 

Keith David…………………………….…..Seth Holly

Taraji P. Henson……………….… Molly Cunningham

S. Epatha Merkerson……………………. Bertha Holly

Roger Robinson……………………….……… Bynum

Raynor Scheine………………….…...Rutherford Selig

Jason Dirden…………………….……..Jeremy Furlow

John Douglas Thompson……….……..Harold Loomis

January LaVoy………………….……Mattie Campbell

Niles Martells………………….………Reuben Mercer

Alexis Holt…………………….………..Zonia Loomis

 

 

The Piano Lesson– Monday, September 9

Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson

 

Brandon J. Dirden………………………….Boy Willie

Roslyn Ruff…………………………………..Berniece

Jason Dirden…………………………..……….Lymon

Alexis Holt…………………………..………...Maretha

Eric Lenox Abrams………………….……….….Avery

Chuck Cooper……………………….……Wining Boy

Mandi Masden……………………………..…….Grace

 

 

Two Trains Running– Wednesday, September 11

Directed by Michele Shay

 

Ron Cephas Jones……………………………….Wolf

James A. Williams………………………….Holloway

Owiso Odera………………………………….Sterling

Leon Addison Brown……………………….Hambone

Harvy Blanks…………………………………….West

 

 

Seven Guitars– Friday, September 13

Directed by Stephen McKinley Henderson

 

Ruben Santiago-Hudson…………………… Canewell

Wendell Pierce……………………….……Red Carter

Brenda Pressley………………………………...Louise

Lou Ferguson………………………………….Hedley

Harry Lennix……………………………Floyd Barton

Cassandra Freeman……………………………...Ruby

 

 

Jitney– Monday, September 16

Directed by Ruben Santiago Hudson

 

Anthony Chisholm…………………………....Fielding

Amari Cheatom………………………….Youngblood

Stephen M Henderson…………………………Turnbo

Barry Shabaka Henley…………………………..Doub

Harvy Blanks…………………………………..Shealy

Joaquina Kalukango……………………………..Rena

 

 

King Hedley II– Saturday, September 21

Directed by Michele Shay

 

Russell Hornsby………………………King Hedley II

Leslie Uggams…………………………………..Ruby

Kevin Carroll…………………………………...Mister

Stephen M. Henderson………………………..Elmore

Marsha Stephanie Blake………………………..Tonya

Arthur French……………………………Stool Pigeon

 

 

Gem of the Ocean– Tuesday, September 24

Directed by Kenny Leon

 

Eugene Lee…………………………………………Eli

Stephen Tyrone Williams……………..Citizen Barlow

Phylicia Rashad……………………………Aunt Ester

Danai Gurira……………………………...Black Mary

Raynor Scheine……………………...Rutherford Selig

Anthony Chisholm………………….Solly Two Kings

Keith Randolph Smith…………………………Caesar

 

 

Radio Golf– Saturday, September 28 

Directed by Marion McClinton

 

Anthony Chisholm………….. ….Elder Joseph Barlow

John Earl Jelks…………………........Sterling Johnson

Rocky Carroll………………………...Harmond Wilks

Sharon Washington……………………...Mame Wilks

James A. Williams…………………...Roosevelt Hicks

 

 

For further information, please visit www.thegreenespace.org


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