August Wilson's 20th Century: King Hedley II
An ex-con tries to rebuild his life by selling stolen refrigerators and robbing the neighborhood jeweler so he can buy a video store. But grand dreams for his wife and unborn child are threatened by a system that's not about to play by his rules.
- Mar. 23 - Apr. 6, 2008
- Terrace Theater
- Approx 2 hrs, 40 min
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--The New York Times
King Hedley II (1980s)
Directed by Derrick Sanders
An ex-con in the Reagan years of excess tries to rebuild his life by selling stolen refrigerators and robbing the neighborhood jeweler so he can buy a video store. But grand dreams for his wife and unborn child are threatened by a system that's not about to play by his rules.
--Running Time: 2 hours, 55 minutes, with one intermission--
King Hedley II: Russell Hornsby
Ruby: Lynda Gravátt
Mister: Jason Dirden
Elmore: Stephen McKinley Henderson
Tonya: Heather Alicia Simms
Stool Pigeon: James A. Williams
An American icon, August Wilson depicted the human condition like no other playwright of his time. His legacy lives on through his crowning achievement: a cycle of 10 plays chronicling the African American experience, each set in a different decade of the 20th century. Crafted over nearly 25 years, these works garnered Wilson myriad accolades, including a Tony Award and two Pulitzer Prizes. Bringing them together for the first time ever, the Kennedy Center presents staged readings of all 10 of Wilson's masterpieces, frequently dubbed "The Pittsburgh Cycle," as all but one are grounded in the city of his youth.
More than 30 stars of stage and screen join Artistic Director Kenny Leon and six other acclaimed directors for this historic month-long celebration (March 4–April 6, 2008). Complemented with costumes, lighting, and scenery, the plays will be performed in chronological order--collectively revealing Wilson's sweeping vision of the challenge and glory of being black in America.
News and Reviews
August Wilson’s 1900s to Be a Cycle Onstage
The New York Times, February 20, 2008
Watch and Listen
Discovering the Library: Born in an economically-depressed neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA, August Wilson’s young life was changed by a visit to the Carnegie Public Library, where he discovered books relevant to his life and experiences.
The Collaboration Process: A play starts with the playwright’s text, but it is the actors, director, set designer, costumer, and lighting designer and more who bring a production to fruition.
Writing as a Child: August Wilson became fascinated with language and began writing in the second grade.
Growing up as “Youngblood”: August Wilson learned how to survive and become a young adult not only through reading, but also by watching and learning from his elders.
The Writing Process: The blank page is often seen as a formidable stumbling block for young writers, but August Wilson learned to embrace it: the blank page or canvas allowed him to discover the story as he began to write.
The Stronger Political Act: Describing the work of August Wilson, actor James Earl Jones said, “…when he writes he leaves some blood on the page.
The Artist’s Relationship with the Audience: August Wilson approached his art as an aesthetic statement that impacted audience members not only as individuals, but also as a community.
Recurring Themes: Through his plays, August Wilson made important connections to history, heritage and his ancestors, stressing the responsibility of each generation , and the idea that you must know where you come from to know where you’re going.
The Rehearsal Process: August Wilson saw the characters in his plays as undergoing a process of evolution from his written pages to the live theatre stage.