When I arrived at The Greene Space, African drummer Kojo Johnson was on stage playing the jdembe drum before Terrence McKnight introduced himself as our host. They were soon joined by the panel: Dwight Andrews, Hollis King, and Josef Sorett. All of these men have deep connections to both the subject matter and August Wilson’s legacy. Dwight Andrews was one of Wilson’s dearest friends and he served as musical director for 5 of Wilson’s plays on Broadway. Later on in the evening, Dwight would tell us how Wilson asked him to officiate his funeral, at which point, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Stephen McKinley Henderson called out from the audience to say that he did an expert job at the funeral. (A touching moment between these 3 giants!) Needless to say, Dwight Andrews is more than adept at the topic of Wilson and his take on religion. Continue reading
This may be a dangerous thing to say so early on, but I think I’ve discovered my new favorite August Wilson play. Friday night’s reading of Seven Guitars blew me away. Not only is the script amazing, but the performances were outstanding. With a star-studded cast that seemed too good to be true, their ensemble performance made me feel like I was really in Louise’s backyard watching all the action takes place.
One resounding point was made abundantly clear at Friday night’s Wilson talk: music and dance are their own characters in August Wilson’s plays. I noticed a piano and guitar sitting off to the side waiting to receive attention, and I knew we were in for something special that night! The audience was more than ready for the arrival of the featured guests. Our host for the evening, Terrance McKnight, started off the night by introducing Bill Sims Jr.(acclaimed blues musician and composer of the original music for Seven Guitars and Jitney), Kathryn Bostic (composer, wrote the score for Gem of the Ocean), Garth Fagan (Tony Award winning choreographer, Lion King), and Ken Roberson (Seven Guitars choreographer, Signature Theater, 2006).
Last night’s talk was an unforgettable, eye-opening experience filled with the insight of those who were right in the thick of it when August Wilson and Lloyd Richards worked together. A small crowd gathered at The Greene Space to witness the discussion of the two iconic figures. The air was electric with excitement Continue reading
Behind every great man, there is an even greater woman, or so the saying goes. For August Wilson, no one could argue with the greatness of his surviving wife Constanza Romero.
Romero and Wilson met in 1987 while Romero was a grad student at Yale Repertory Theater. She was assigned to work on the costumes for The Piano Lesson, and her artistic bond with Wilson soon evolved into love. The two were married in 1994, and they relocated to Seattle together. Together Wilson and Romero had one child, Azula, and they continued to work closely together as artists.
Yesterday’s performance felt like an epic moment in history. Not only did we have black Broadway royalty collaborating to produce Fences, August Wilson’s most famous play, but yesterday marked the 50th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington. Martin Luther King Jr and August Wilson were surely smiling down from heaven on The Greene Space of New York City, applauding everyone’s efforts. The work being done here is important. Fences is August Wilson’s most acclaimed masterpiece, and it is the show that garnered him the title of “Black Shakespeare.” No question, this high work of art is theatre (and black theatre) at it’s finest.
“I once wrote a short story called ‘The Best Blues Singer in the World’ and it went like this: ‘The streets that Balboa walked were his own private ocean, and Balboa was drowning.’ End of story. That says it all. Nothing else to say. I’ve been rewriting that same story over and over again. All my plays are rewriting that same story. I’m not sure what it means, other than life is hard.” -August Wilson, 1945 – 2005
Last night was a blast! The Greene Space was small enough to be intimate, but large enough to not feel cramped. People of all shades sat in the audience in anticipation of the first recording in August Wilson’s Century Cycle-Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.