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Major Retrospective is Curated by Resident Director Chuck Smith with Constanza Romero, Ron OJ Parson and Dr. Harvey Young

CHICAGO, IL -  Goodman Theatre, in collaboration with Chicago’s various off-Loop theaters and Northwestern University, unveils partial programming in its spring 2015 citywide “August Wilson Celebration”—an extensive retrospective of the late playwright’s life, artistry and influence on American culture. The seven-week Celebration takes place in March and April 2015 on dual landmark occasions: the 70th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s birth and the 10th anniversary of his death. Resident Director Chuck Smith curates programming in communities throughout Chicago, together with Wilson’s wife and frequent collaborator Constanza Romero; actor/director Ron OJ Parson; and Northwestern University professor and critic Harvey Young. As the first theater in the world to produce every play in Wilson’s 10-play cycle exploring the 20th Century African American experience, the Goodman and partnering organizations pay tribute to and explore the enduring impact of “theater’s poet of Black America” (The New York Times).

“No artistic collaborator of the past 90 years has been more important to the Goodman than playwright August Wilson,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “His work was first seen by Goodman audiences in 1986 with Fences, starring James Earl Jones. Over the next 20 years, the Goodman became a primary artistic home to Wilson and the birthplace of two world-premiere productions, Seven Guitars and Gem of the Ocean. Chuck Smith, who directed our memorable production of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in 1997 and has the distinction of serving as August’s dramaturg on Gem of the Ocean, has assembled a powerhouse line-up that promises to make the Celebration a major American cultural event of 2015.”

The August Wilson Celebration includes the following productions and events (a current calendar follows):

  • A major revival of Two Trains Running at Goodman Theatre, directed by Smith and featuring Alfred Wilson (Holloway); A.C. Smith (West); Nambi E. Kelley (Risa); Ernest Perry Jr. (Hambone); Anthony Irons (Wolf); Chester Gregory (Sterling); and Ron OJ Parson (Memphis). Individual tickets ($25 – $79; subject to change) are on sale now; visit www.GoodmanTheatre.org, call 312.443.3800 or visit the box office (170 N. Dearborn).
  • One-night-only FREE readings of the other nine plays in the 20th Century Cycle at off-Loop theaters and community venues, including MPAACT, Congo Square Theatre Company, Pegasus Theatre Chicago, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, eta Creative Arts Foundation and Court Theatre
  • A series of lectures and discussions that shine a spotlight on the cities where Wilson did his landmark work—Chicago, St. Paul, New Haven and New York—featuring acclaimed artists/scholars associated with him
  • A discussion of the female characters in August Wilson’s work, featuring Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad and hosted by Tony Award nominee Michele Shay
  • A first-time presentation of Wilson’s poetry, in association with the Poetry Foundation of Chicago
  • A major summit of leading African American artists and educators, culminating in a discussion of “The State of Black Theater in America: Past, Present and Future”
  • Seminars for high school teachers, intended to encourage the inclusion of Wilson’s work in high school curricula
  • Actor/playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson performing Wilson’s autobiographical How I Learned What I Learned
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