In August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play set in Pittsburgh in 1936, an ancient upright piano carved with African faces dominates the parlour of Doaker Charles. Boy Willie and his partner Lymon have come up from the south to sell watermelons. Boy Willie has just got out of prison and he wants to buy the land his ancestors once worked as slaves but his sister is not about to sell the piano.
Boy Willie...John Earl Jelks
Doaker...Stephen McKinley Henderson
Wining Boy...Anthony Chisholm
Grace...Marsha Stephanie Blake
Creative consultant Ricardo Khan,
Pianist Ernie Scott
Director Claire Grove
Playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah has curated new radio productions of three 20th Century plays for Radio 3's Drama on 3, The Piano Lesson is the first in the series and will be followed by The Plough and the Stars by Sean O'Casey on December 4th and: Skyvers by Barry Reckord on December 11th.
The three broadcasts will be introduced by Kwame Kwei-Armah, who will talk about how each of the writers, and the plays, influenced his own development as an actor and playwright. Kwame is currently based in Baltimore where he is Artistic Director of Center Stage Theater.
"The glow accompanying August Wilson's place in contemporary American theatre is fixed." Toni Morrison .
August Wilson (1945 - 2005) is America's foremost black playwright. This production was recorded at Tony Award winning Crossroads Theatre New Brunswick, New Jersey, with the support of August Wilson's widow, and an outstanding cast which includes actors like Stephen Henderson and Anthony Chisholm who worked extensively with August Wilson. Anthony and Stephen were both in the Olivier award winning production of Jitney which took London by storm ten years ago and Stephen and Chris Chalk were both in the Broadway Tony award winning production of August Wilson's Fences starring Denzel Washington. Stephen Henderson has just finished working on Spike Lee's new film which will be released next year and he is currently working on a new film with Steven Spielberg.
The Piano Lesson is the fourth of August Wilson's cycle of ten plays about the African American experience in the twentieth century. It opened at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1987 and in 1990 on Broadway it won a Pulitzer Prize , a Drama Desk Award and New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. The play was inspired by Romare Bearden's painting of the same name. August Wilson saw its scene of a teacher and student as an allegory for how African Americans must learn to negotiate their history.